May 17, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Bid to raise California cigarette tax by $2 a pack submits signatures — A well-financed campaign backed by billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, medical groups and organized labor said Monday that it collected more than 1 million signatures for a ballot measure to raise California’s cigarette tax by $2 a pack. AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

Dan Walters: Californians see big housing crisis but don’t agree on solutions — Those in California media and politics understand – finally – that there is a housing crisis. However, there’s no agreement on what precisely it is or how it might be addressed. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State budget

Analyst recommends ‘robust’ rainy-day fund for state budget – As the Legislature begins its deep dive into Gov. Jerry Brown‘s revised budget, its fiscal analysts are urging at least as much caution as Brown is suggesting.  Maybe even more. LA Times article

Governor: We can’t buy our way out of affordable housing problem – Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to address affordable housing , which he unveiled during a Friday press conference on his revised budget, primarily tries to address the problem by lowering regulations for affordable development. Here’s what he said about his approach. LA Times article

Jim Mayer: Staying the course on most of the budget, governor turns aggressive on housing crisis – The president and CEO of California Forward writes, “On most of the major fiscal issues facing California, Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal offered a set of familiar arguments last week—about the growing potential of an economic slowdown, about the need for additional contributions into the new Rainy Day Fund, and about the state’s inability to support major new spending. The governor made only one exception—talking for the first time about the need to respond to California’s growing housing affordability crisis, an issue CA Fwd and its partners in the CA Economic Summit have made a top priority this year. Mayer in California Forward

Gov. Jerry Brown switches course, seeks $10 million in state funding for California quake warning system – In a major reversal, Gov. Jerry Brown is seeking state funds for a fledgling earthquake early warning system for California, which would allow for a limited rollout of alerts by 2018. LA Times article

Gov. Brown 

Joel Fox: ‘No Bye-Bye Jerry’ – The wink that was heard — There was no wink from Gov. Jerry Brown when he said he wouldn’t involve himself in the Proposition 30 tax extension issue at his press conference Friday, but if you listened to the context of what he said you heard an audible equivalent to a wink. He said that Prop 30 was temporary; he wasn’t taking a position on the extension; he’ll let the people decide. Wink. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Valley politics

AD 12: Five make case to succeed Olsen – All five candidates vying to succeed outgoing Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen say they’re passionate about representing the interests of the Valley. Modesto Bee article

AD 21: Republican contender for Merced seat quits — The only challenger for the state Assembly District 21 seat has dropped out of the running. Greg Opinski, 53, a construction company owner and a Merced Union High School District board member, said he will not challenge Adam Gray, D-Merced, in the June 7 race. He submitted paperwork in March to run, but said he has had a change of heart. Merced Sun-Star article

Political novices take on ex-councilman in Fresno District 6 — Three seats on the Fresno City Council are up for election this year, but only one – representing northeast Fresno – is being contested in the June 7 primary. Two-term incumbent Lee Brand is termed out of the District 6 seat and is running for mayor. His departure presented an opportunity for a field of four candidates: former City Council member and psychologist Garry Bredefeld; Jeremy Pearce, a professional Elvis Presley impersonator and businessman; public relations business owner Holly Carter; and Carter Pope II, a student who also manages a pizza restaurant. Fresno Bee article

Couch picking up Republican support for Kern supervisor – Kern County Supervisor David Couch has kept up a steady string of endorsement press releases over the past week, spreading them out for maximum effect. In addition to Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield’s nod, Couch claimed the backing of four other big names in regional Republican politics: Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford; state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford; former Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway of Visalia; and former Assemblyman and 4th District Supervisor Trice Harvey. Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield Californian: Two stand out in crowded mayoral race – Some good, well-meaning people have offered their services, to be sure. A few have used the platform their candidacy has afforded to promote specific causes, such as homelessness, the foster care system and arts education. But few have spoken with the knowledge or broad view of two. The Californian recommends Kyle Carter and Karen Goh. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Candidates few, questions many at Dems-only Bakersfield mayoral forum – The city’s historic 25-candidate mayoral field narrowed momentarily on Monday night at Cal State Bakersfield, to allow the Bakersfield Young Democrats to make a partisan endorsement in a non-partisan race. Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield mayoral candidate profile: Brett Vigil — Brett Vigil, 39, Caltrans heavy equipment operator. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton mayor wants more control of policing, uses Facebook post to swipe at rivals – After a violent weekend in south Stockton, Mayor Anthony Silva has taken to Facebook to argue again that his office needs increased power and to take a swipe at his two prime opponents in the upcoming primary election. Stockton Record article

Merced voter registration increases as deadline approaches — As California’s primary creeps closer and closer, interest in the presidential race grows while Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have all but clinched nominations. And, it appears Merced County residents, as well as Californians, want a say. In one week, about 1,000 Merced County residents registered to vote. On Friday, the latest numbers showed 90,500 residents were registered. Merced Sun-Star article

Tulare County District 1 Supervisor candidate profile: Vincent Salinas — Vincent B. Salinas65, business consultant. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California voters will face dozens of local tax and bond measures — California voters will face just one statewide measure on the June primary ballot, but they will pass judgment on at least 165 local government proposals, according to a compilation by government finance tracker Michael Coleman. Sacramento Bee article

Munger spending money for Sundheim in U.S. Senate race — Republican mega-donor Charles Munger Jr.’s political organization, Spirit of Democracy America, has launched an independent expenditure campaign supporting GOP Senate candidate George “Duf” Sundheim. LA Times article

Debra Saunders: Loretta Sanchez’s math on Muslims — Running to replace Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, is not backing down from comments she made in December about the percentage of Muslims in the world who support jihad.  Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle

Other areas

State Sen. Anthony Cannella: Getting California’s transportation fixes back on track – The Ceres Republican writes, “It has been almost a year since Gov. Jerry Brown called for a special session of the Legislature to deal with these problems and the extreme shortage of transportation funding that has left California’s streets, roads, highways and bridges in poor to dangerous condition. Yet, since that session, no real progress has been made. We’ve had a series of hearings across the state and several bills have been introduced, but there seems to be no political will to negotiate a package that will rebuild California’s crumbling roads. And the longer we wait, the more it costs us.” Cannella op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Court says counties must justify zoning that restricts gun stores – A federal appeals court decided Monday that a zoning requirement restricting the location of gun stores may violate a constitutional right to bear arms. A panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit against Alameda County, ruling 2-1 that the county must justify a ban that prevents new gun stores from locating within 500 feet of a residential neighborhood. LA Times article

Supreme Court clears the way for free birth control for women with religious employers — The Supreme Court on Monday announced a compromise ruling on contraceptives that clears the way for women working for religious organizations to receive the free birth control promised by President Obama‘s healthcare law. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Bernie Sanders returning to rally in Southern California — Bernie Sanders, fresh off of rallying thousands of supporters in Sacramento and Stockton last week, will return to California Tuesday for an Election Night speech. Sacramento Bee article

Joe Altschule: Will the real Donald Trump please stand up – The GOP is faced with the herculean task of repairing the modern day Humpty Dumpty Trump. Humpty Dumpty Trumpty’s great fall comes from his never-ending blunders, ignorant statements and personal embarrassments. In the end, the GOP will need American voters to put Humpty Dumpty Trumpty together again, but it won’t happen. The real Donald has stood up too often. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Tom Fife: Trump would beat even Reagan today — Donald Trump is a larger-than-life, successful individual. Sort of P.T. Barnum meets George Patton? Whatever he is, at this point in history, his message and his tone have been right enough to gain the public’s attention and support. Donald Trump would beat even Ronald Reagantoday. Visalia Times-Delta article

For the first time, some Orange County voters might have to choose between two Democrats for Congress — Orange County, which for decades held a reputation as the bastion of California conservatism, this year could see Republicans shut out of a congressional race for the first time. LA Times article
California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

This inmate started hand-writing a case the Supreme Court ended — From the isolated depths of California State Prison, Corcoran, inmate Antonio A. Hinojosa hand-wrote his way toward the U.S. Supreme Court. On Monday, he lost. In being heard, though, he also made a point. In a 6-2 decision that could affect other state prisoners, the Supreme Court rejected Hinojosa’s challenge to a California law that cost him good-time credits. The lost credits would have helped Hinojosa win earlier release from a 16-year sentence for armed robbery and related crimes. McClatchy Newspapers article

CalPERS speeds up deadline to debate tobacco investments – Despite the toxic politics, CalPERS’ leaders on Monday stuck with a plan that could lead the fund to jump back into tobacco investments. And they sped up the timeline for considering whether to put pension money into the industry again. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

San Joaquin County existing home sales, prices on the rise – San Joaquin County existing home sales rose in April compared to a year ago, running counter to a statewide decline in home sales due to tight housing supplies, the California Association of Realtors reported recently. Stockton Record article

Tesla responds to newspaper’s investigation of imported workers at Fremont factory – Following up on this newspaper’s investigation, Tesla Motors said Monday it will probe reports that imported subcontractors were working for less than $5 per hour at its Fremont factory. San Jose Mercury News articleLA Times article

Modesto weighs billing insurance firms for medical calls – The Modesto Fire Department is considering billing insurance companies when it responds to emergency medical calls, such as when firefighters help someone who has fallen and broken a leg, had a heart attack or a stroke. Modesto Bee article

Backers say LA affordable housing measure headed for November ballot – A coalition of labor unions and housing advocates said Monday it had gathered nearly 100,000 signatures for a ballot measure that would force real estate developers to provide affordable housing when they want to build bigger projects than city rules would otherwise allow. LA Times article

Warren Buffett boosts Apple investment, is said to be a Yahoo bidder – For a guy known as being a bit averse to investing in tech companies, Warren Buffett seems to be breaking out of his shell. On Monday, it became known that Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway holding company bought up $1 billion of Apple shares during the first quarter of the year. San Jose Mercury News article

Oakland hopes to light the way for minority-owned pot businesses – Oakland’s City Council is on the verge of passing what it sees as reparations for a U.S. drug policy that disproportionately punished people of color — but it’s an effort that might quickly backfire. San Francisco Chronicle article

Aerojet Rocketdyne to move its corporate headquarters to El Segundo — Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., the locally based rocket engine maker and the largest publicly traded company in the Sacramento area, confirmed Monday that it will move its corporate headquarters from Rancho Cordova to El Segundo this summer. Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorial

Report says Amazon to expand its store-brand offerings – Amazon is planning to expand the store-brand items it sells to new categories including food and household products, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. The new products could include nuts and spices and other consumer goods such as diapers and laundry detergent. AP article

Gannett’s bid for Tribune Publishing jumps to $15 a share – Gannett Co. raised its all-cash offer to acquire Tribune Publishing Co. to $15 per share, up from $12.25 per share, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Monday. LA Times article

Hanford council to consider raise for Pyle — The Hanford City Council is considering giving City Manager Darrel Pyle a 6.7 percent raise. If the item is approved Tuesday at the council meeting, Pyle will receive a hike from $201,396 to $215,880 in total annual compensation, according to a staff report. Hanford Sentinel article

Merced planners to get look at marijuana ordinance – The ordinance to allow medical marijuana and cultivation in the city of Merced is set to go before city planners this week. Merced Sun-Star article

San Diego reaches three more labor deals — San Diego has reached tentative labor deals with three city employee unions that abide by the Proposition B pension reform measure that voters approved in 2012. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Sacramento Big Day of Giving raises record sum despite technical problems – Sacramento’s Big Day of Giving raised a record $7.1 million for area nonprofits despite a nationwide website failure that crippled online giving for more than 50 such events around the country. Sacramento Bee article

Groups backing stadium launch boycott of hotels — Two pro-stadium Chargers groups announced a boycott Monday against three local hotel companies that they claim are “impeding” efforts to build a stadium-convention center complex downtown. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Water regulations ease, but drought still dominates in California — The past few day have been big for water news. First, Governor Jerry Brown announced plans to ease up on some water restrictions, then Southern California’s Metropolitan Water District saidit’ll end limits on the amount of water local suppliers can purchase. All of this comes as the U.S Drought Monitor reported that Del Norte County and parts of Humboldt and Siskiyou counties are actually drought free. KPCC report

Michael Kiparsky and Holly Doremus: California needs strong, fair and effective groundwater agencies – The officials at the Wheeler Water Institute at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment write, “Many localities are committed to developing excellent groundwater agencies, but even the best intentioned may need help – or a gentle push in the right direction. Damage to groundwater unfolds over decades. By the time management problems come to light, it may be too late to change course. Achieving groundwater sustainability is too important, and too challenging, to leave in the hands of haphazardly designed agencies.” Kiparsky/Doremus op-ed in Fresno Bee

HLB hearing in Sacramento planned for state’s citrus industry — A hearing on the threat huanglongbing poses to California’s commercial and home citrus will be discussed Tuesday in Sacramento during state Senate Committee on Agriculture hearing. Visalia Times-Delta article

A new data initiative is changing water management — The last few years has shown that California is getting serious about policies to combat drought. And now it is getting serious about the role of data in that fight. In 2013 Gov. Jerry Brown mandated that urban water suppliers report monthly average gallons per capita per day to track water conservation. And last week the governor further enshrined that data collection effort in a new executive order. KQED report

‘They have all been struggling for a long time’ – A caravan of HealthCare Conglomerate Associates and Tulare Regional Medical Center volunteers handed out more than just clean drinking water to residents of Matheny Tract on Monday. They delivered hope. Visalia Times-Delta article

15 farmworkers claim they’re owed thousands by labor contractor, farmer — A farm labor contractor from Madera and a Selma farmer are being sued by California Rural Legal Assistance, which claims they failed to pay 15 farmworkers for work they did. Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Merced County seeks state funding to target crime, gangs — The county sheriff’s and district attorney’s offices are working with Assemblymember Adam Gray, D-Merced, to seek $4.5 million in state funding for a program to combat gang violence in Merced County. Merced Sun-Star article

Stemming the tide of violence – “Look around you. Do you see any children playing?” Sheila Aceves asked on a bright, sunny afternoon, in her south Stockton neighborhood that has been plagued by violence in recent days. Stockton Record article

State Supreme Court won’t review Stanislaus deputy’s disability case – The California Supreme Court denied a petition from Stanislaus County that asked the court to review Deputy Dennis Wallace’s disability case. Wallace, who has sought compensation for being placed on unpaid leave for two years, lost his 2013 discrimination case in Stanislaus Superior Court, but a state appeals court overturned the jury’s verdict in February. Modesto Bee article

One inmate shot, three others injuries in Folsom prison fight — Two inmates at California State Prison, Sacramento, have been taken to an outside hospital following a fight at the prison in Folsom. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Disability agency blasts Sonoma County Jail’s treatment of mentally ill — The conditions the DRC report found in Sonoma County’s main jail are a reflection of what mental health experts say is a disturbing reality nationwide: After decades spent “deinstitutionalizing” the mentally ill — removing them from settings like state hospitals in favor of community mental health facilities that have rarely been adequately funded — correctional facilities are now de facto treatment centers for those suffering from acute psychiatric disorders. KQED report

Two LA sheriff’s deputies convicted of beating mentally ill inmate – A Los Angeles federal jury on Monday found two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies guilty of beating an inmate and falsifying reports to cover up the attack, the latest in a series of convictions connected to the county’s jail abuse scandal. LA Times article


Bayer, Wonderful Company establish Fresno State endowments – Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology took in two major endowments totaling $700,000 last week. Global healthy food and beverage leader The Wonderful Company established a $500,000 endowment and international agricultural leader Bayer set up a $200,000 endowment to support entomology research at the facility. The Business Journal article

Vineland loses 13 teachers after superintendent calls staff ‘lazy’ – Just weeks after calling his teachers “lazy” and brushing off threats of mass resignation as a negotiation tactic, Vineland School District Superintendent Matthew Ross is facing the new school year with more than a quarter of his 40 instructors refusing to return next year. Bakersfield Californian article

Brenda Sutton: Vineland school board should be troubled by superintendent – The correctional educator writes, “When the administrators of a school publicly disrespect their teaching staff, that is a huge problem. It creates a hostile work environment for teachers trying to teach in what may be an already difficult setting. This type of behavior can become a cancer that can spread throughout the school. The Vineland School District has several problems. I will list three.” Sutton op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Fresno State program awards grants to community organizations — Fresno State philanthropy students on Monday awarded $15,000 in grants to three Fresno community benefit organizations to help fund programs that will enrich the community. Fresno Bee article

UC Davis had high ratings before contracts to clean up online image — By some important measures, 2012 was a good year for UC Davis. Despite negative publicity from the pepper spraying of students the previous year, the school was experiencing one of its most successful fundraising campaigns in history and was ranked in a major study as one of the top schools in the state. That didn’t stop campus leaders from deciding they needed to spend at least $175,000 on contracts to improve the reputation of the school and of Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi following the November 2011 incident in which students were pepper sprayed by campus police during a peaceful demonstration. Sacramento Bee article

Karin Klein: Gap year is a great year – if students can afford it – A few months ago, I attended a gap year fair at the elite Harvard-Westlake School in San Fernando Valley. The floor of the gym was rimmed with folding tables bearing pennants and thick brochures about the exciting projects in store for students who take a year off between high school and college. Exciting – and costly. Klein in Sacramento Bee

How California protects transgender students – Here is a guide to the policies and rights of transgender students in Los Angeles. LA Times article

In California, lessons on transgender student access to facilities – As schools across the nation work, often for the first time, to ensure a welcoming environment for students who are transgender, California has lessons to share, according to educators, advocates and students. EdSource article

Former Fresno High teacher sentenced to prison for illicit sex with student — Wearing a jail jumpsuit and shackles, former Fresno High School teacher Darren Klassen was sentenced Monday to five years and eight months in prison for having an illicit sexual affair with a student. Fresno Bee article

LA school district reaches $88-million settlement in sex misconduct cases at two campuses — The Los Angeles school district will pay $88 million to settle sexual abuse cases at two elementary schools where complaints about the teachers behavior had surfaced long before their arrest, officials confirmed Monday. LA Times article


Riverbank gets $39.5 million grant for Army ammo plant cleanup – The city announced Monday that the Army is providing $39.5 million for further cleanup of the former ammunition plant on Claus Road. Modesto Bee article

Climate change is making days on earth longer — If you ever feel like there isn’t enough time in the day, here’s some good news. Days on Earth are actually getting slightly longer. Well, it’s probably not good news at all. Because the change is imperceptible in daily life, and the cause — is climate change. KPBS report

Carmen George: ‘Museum without walls’ celebrates 25 years at Shaver Lake — While it includes a more traditional “museum” – a pretty pine building with a sunny, spacious interior filled with exhibits largely focused on the region’s logging history – its prize jewels include free tours of Shaver Lake on a wooden boat, the Osprey II, and interactive treasures sprinkled throughout the museum’s 20-acre property, leased to the society for $1 a year by a major employer to the region, Southern California Edison power company. George in Fresno Bee
Health/Human Services 

California immigrant kids gain state-funded health care — Children and teens brought illegally to the United States gained access to publicly funded health care Monday as California began allowing young people to sign up for the state’s health care program for the poor without regard to their immigration status. AP article

California may allow transplants among those with HIV – California lawmakers are moving to allow organ transplants between donors and recipients if they both have the HIV virus that causes AIDS. AP article

Kelly Mac Millan: State must close gaps in breast cancer treatment – The executive director of Susan B. Komen Foundation’s Sacramento Valley chapter writes, “Studies show that younger women often have more aggressive forms of breast cancer than older women and that their five-year survival rates are lower. For women diagnosed with early breast cancer, most recurrence happens within the first five years after treatment. So why does the state-funded Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program exclude screenings for women under 40, not allow treatment of the same tissue and limit treatment to 18 months?” Mac Millan op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Tulare County supervisors award mental health programs – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved last week nearly $2 million in mental health contracts to two county agencies. Visalia Times-Delta article

Bill would require FDA to evaluate chemicals in cosmetics for first time ever – A bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) would require the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to evaluate the chemicals in personal care products for the first time ever. The FDA would have authority to set exposure limits, require warning labels and even recall products deemed unsafe. KQED report

Brain-dead toddler’s family files appeal to block ventilator removal — Racing against the clock, lawyers for the family of brain-dead toddler Israel Stinson have filed a federal appeal, seeking to prevent Kaiser Permanente’s Roseville hospital from taking the child off a ventilator by Friday’s court-ordered deadline. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Phase IV will bring softball complex to Riverway Sports Park — The next development at Riverway Sports Park in north Visalia will bring four new softball fields and numerous upgrades to the growing park. Visalia Times-Delta article


Want to buy a self-driving car? Trucks may come first – The engineers think that automating trucks rather than passenger vehicles could be more palatable financially and to regulators. Nationally, trucks drive 5.6 percent of all vehicle miles and are responsible for 9.5 percent of highway fatalities, according to Department of Transportation data. New York Times article

Pelandale interchange closed as crews work around the clock — The Highway 99 interchange at Pelandale Avenue and Sisk Road closed Sunday night and is set to reopen early Wednesday as crews work around the clock to finish offramps and repave roadways. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Turnout low, marks high for San Joaquin supervisors’ night meeting – While very few members of the general public attended Thursday evening’s water-centered study session hosted by the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, organizers still deemed it a success. Stockton Record article

Jeff Jardine: Knights Ferry residents make noise, get their post office back – There is a lesson here: Make your voices heard, your feelings known, and you might just get what you want and need. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

City of Merced launches new website – The city of Merced has launched a remodel of its website, modernizing the appearance and streamlining navigation. The upgrade is the first in 10 years and was introduced over the weekend. Merced Sun-Star article

Merced council terminates contract with new city attorney after just two months – Merced’s new city attorney is out after just two months on the job, the Sun-Star has confirmed. The city’s contact with Jennifer McGrath, who was hired in March, was terminated Monday by the Merced City Council, following a closed session discussion, City Manager Steve Carrigan confirmed to the Sun-Star. Merced Sun-Star article

Valley water rescue crews brace for a more dangerous summer — Although the central San Joaquin Valley has enjoyed an average water year in the midst of a five-year drought, sheriff’s deputies in Madera, Fresno and Tulare counties are preparing for one of the downsides to the coming snowmelt: faster, deeper and more dangerous waterways. Fresno Bee article

Fighting to save lives — It was a surreal moment for one of Tulare’s newest firefighters, John McGrew, as he was pinned by the firefighter who took him on his first engine ride. Visalia Times-Delta article