May 20, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Analyst predicts California revenue will exceed revised budget estimate by $3 billion — The Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst has issued a far more optimistic view of California’s tax revenue picture than Gov. Jerry Brown, predicting the state next year will take in $3.1 billion more than the $113.3 billion the Brown administration estimated in its revised budget proposal last week. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Details hidden on legislative lawyers drafting bills for influential groups – The work of the Office of Legislative Counsel is the ultimate seal of approval in Sacramento, an indispensable step for any proposal that becomes law in California — and perhaps why lobbyists and interest groups often privately ask legislators to have the taxpayer funded lawyers draft bills for them, too. KQED report

Tulare County Supervisor Ishida running for governor — Allen Ishida plans to run for governor. The Tulare County Supervisor made the announcement Friday during an interview on K-TIP radio. He confirmed his intentions Tuesday.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Valley politics

Stockton Record: Probe needed into uncounted ballots — A thorough investigation must be done into an inexcusable faux pas that happened during the June 2014 Primary Election in San Joaquin County. Stockton Record editorial


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Poll: Harris, Sanchez hold early top positions in U.S. Senate race – With a four month head start, Democrat Kamala Harris is an unsurprising early favorite to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, though few voters have yet to tune into the race, according to a new poll. Sacramento Bee article

‘War whoop’ aside, Sanchez’s media scamper could prove costly — Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, stumbled onto the national airwaves this weekend with her mocking cliché of American Indians. Sanchez apologized at her state party’s annual convention Sunday after fellow Democrat and Senate candidate Kamala Harris called the gesture “shocking.” But for all the attention on that, Sanchez’s mad scramble to evade a TV reporter may prove more politically damaging in the long run.  Sacramento Bee article


Immigration advocates in Fresno call for support on deferred action – Immigration reform advocates in Fresno are denouncing a federal lawsuit that blocked the enactment of programs aimed at providing work permits for undocumented immigrants.  Fresno Bee article

Activists call for action, vigilance on immigration – Immigrant-rights activists demonstrating in Bakersfield Tuesday criticized Republican politicians for challenging President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and called for vigilance against wrongful detainment of undocumented workers. Bakersfield Californian article

Immigrants rally for reprieve blocked by lawsuit – Immigrants and advocates rallied on Tuesday in cities across the country to push for a reprieve from deportation that has been blocked by a lawsuit. The demonstrations aimed to mark the day when immigrants in the country illegally who are parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents would have been able to start applying for work permits and deportation protection. AP article

Deportees with families in U.S. try to start over in Tijuana — Crossing has become too difficult. Smugglers are more expensive and unreliable. Border agents are more numerous. Drug traffickers make the desert more dangerous, and some of the deportees fear being imprisoned in the U.S. because of repeat immigration violations. So they’ve chosen to stay and work in Tijuana, to be as close as possible to their families across the border in the U.S.  KQED report

Other areas


‘Stalking’ of pro-vaccine lobbyists prompts warning from doctors’ group – The California Medical Association has sent a letter warning a California Chiropractic Association official who they say encouraged opponents of a mandatory vaccination bill to stalk lobbyists advocating for the legislation.  Sacramento Bee article

Concern about legal marijuana and minors aired in California – Members of a commission led by California’s lieutenant governor said Tuesday that legalizing the recreational use of marijuana could generate enough tax revenue to fund drug education and counseling centers at every high school in the state, a potential upside that should be seriously considered as activists work to put a pot-legalization initiative before voters next year.  AP article

White House looks to farmers to help close trade deal – President Barack Obama and top administration officials are counting on the nation’s farmers to make noise on Capitol Hill, hoping it will win some votes in Congress for the president’s embattled trade proposal. McClatchy Newspapers article

Glazer wins easy victory over Bonilla in state Senate runoff – Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer won a surprisingly easy victory over fellow Democrat Concord Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla on Tuesday night in what had been a nasty, hard-fought contest for an East Bay state Senate seat.  San Francisco Chronicle article; Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Medical group drops opposition to aid-in-dying bill – The California Medical Association has become the first state medical association in the nation to drop opposition to what has long been known as “physician-assisted suicide,” it said, acknowledging a shift in doctor and patient attitudes about end-of-life and aid-in-dying options. San Francisco Chronicle article

Calderon corruption trial pushed back more than six months – Former state Sen. Ron Calderon’s corruption trial has been postponed for a third time. It is now scheduled to begin on March 1, 2016, a delay of nearly seven months.  Capitol Alert

Michael Hiltzik: State tax board members disingenuously defend a power grab – George Runner and Fiona Ma, two members of the state Board of Equalization, say I “unfairly” criticized a plan in the state legislature to give the board the power to assess commercial aircraft. Hiltzik in LA Times

Richard Mountjoy, GOP legislator, dies at 83 — Richard Mountjoy, who was one of the Legislature’s most colorful and outspoken members – particularly in defense of gun owners – for more than two decades, died Monday night at his home in Monrovia. He was 83. Capitol Alert


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Fresno’s dilemma: Save water or pollute the air? Clean air or drinking water — the Fresno City Council must choose one. Both, to the despair of Fresno’s politicians, isn’t an option. The council on Thursday will consider an emergency water-conservation law that, among other things, would give City Hall authority to suspend its hydrant-meter program.  Fresno Bee article

California farms added workers in 2014, even amid drought — Despite the drought, the number of workers employed in California’s agricultural industry rose to its highest level in at least 24 years, as many farmers shifted toward labor-intensive, permanent crops, according to the latest state and federal statistics. Sacramento Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

Cuts to fire service worry Kern supervisors, whose hands may be tied – Kern County got more bad budget news Tuesday. Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall warned supervisors that his ability to fight fires this summer faces a serious challenge from the downturn in oil prices and rising pension costs. Bakersfield Californian article

Voter survey considered for 2016 transportation tax in Stanislaus County – Next step toward a transportation tax in Stanislaus County: a public survey. Transportation leaders on Wednesday will consider setting aside money to poll people, asking what they think about the sales tax going up a half-cent to support road and transit projects. Poll results would help the Stanislaus Council of Governments decide whether to pursue asking voters to approve such a transportation tax in November 2016. Modesto Bee article

Food processing has generated nearly 15,000 jobs in San Joaquin County – Food and beverage processing is an important part of the San Joaquin County economy, generating $1.34 billion in total value-added activity and nearly 14,900 jobs, or 9 percent of total employment, in 2012, according to a recent University of California report. Stockton Record article

Vito Chiesa: Bipartisan property tax solution closer to reality – The Stanislaus County supervisor writes, “Gov. Jerry Brown’s May budget revision includes a recommendation to fix the ‘negative bailout’ problem going forward. This is a landmark moment in the history of finding a solution.” Chiesa op-ed in Modesto Bee

LA City Council approves increase in city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020 – The Los Angeles City Council tentatively agreed Tuesday to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour, joining a trend sweeping cities across the country as elected leaders seek to address stagnating pay for workers on the lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder.  LA Times article; ‘How would LA’s minimum wage law compare with other big cities?’ in LA Times; AP article; New York Times article

Sacramento leaders have money to spend on parks, but worry about increasing staff As the City Council decides how much money to spend on revitalizing and improving the city’s parks, the promise and limitations of a recent hike in sales tax hangs over officials. On Tuesday, during a specially scheduled afternoon meeting, council members agreed that Sacramento should use funds raised by Measure U, a sales tax increase voters approved in 2012, to pay for repairs and park improvements. But deciding where that money should go and how exactly it should be spent proved to be much more divisive. Sacramento Bee article

Mike Prandini: Affordable housing good for California – The president and CEO of the Building Industry Association of Fresno/Madera counties writes, “California has a tremendous opportunity to create tens of thousands of jobs if state leaders can deliver on legislation to revive construction on affordable homes. These are jobs that can’t be stolen by Florida or Texas, two states whose governors have made it their business to poach California companies. Embarking on a statewide plan to build new affordable homes will spark continued economic growth and make it easier for families to find affordable places to live.”  Prandini op-ed in Fresno Bee

Fresno County home prices up in April – Home prices are up in the central San Joaquin Valley and other areas statewide as the spring buying season gets off to a strong start despite falling inventory, according to the California Association of RealtorsFresno Bee article

Surge in home construction is lifting hopes for U.S. economy – The U.S. housing market has given a sudden jolt to what appeared to be a slumping economy. Builders broke ground on homes last month at the fastest pace in more than seven years. The stepped-up construction is helping boost sales at stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s and improving the likelihood that the U.S. economy will accelerate after likely shrinking early this year. AP article

Paid sick leave emerging as next front in low-wage workers’ fight – Paid sick leave is the next frontier in the fight for the country’s lowest earners. Some of the same workers’ rights groups that grabbed headlines recently by pushing companies for wage hikes are steering the conversation toward paid sick leave. The debate has caught the attention of governments and companies alike.  AP article

San Francisco voters to decide on city employee parental leave this fall – New parents who work for the city would have access to more paid time off under a Charter amendment introduced Tuesday by Supervisor Katy Tang. The amendment, which will go before voters on the November ballot, would make San Francisco’s already landmark paid parental leave benefits even more expansive. San Francisco Chronicle article

LSSI representative says she was ‘bumped’ and heckled at anti-privatization event – The issue of the Kern County library’s privatization — or outsourcing — is proceeding through a clear public process. But conflict is heating up between county unions and the company that wants to take over operation of the county library system. Bakersfield Californian article

Raley’s CEO Michael Teel to assume majority ownership of West Sacramento firm — Michael Teel, president and CEO of West Sacramento-based Raley’s and grandson of founder Tom Raley, will become majority owner of the company under a transfer deal announced by his parents. Sacramento Bee article

Land deal finalized for proposed Carson NFL stadium — The complex land deal for the proposed stadium shared by the Chargers and Raiders in Carson closed Tuesday morning after months of closed-door negotiations. LA Times article; U-T San Diego article; AP article

Raiders owner Mark Davis still considers Oakland top option – Davis would like to build near the current, rundown Oakland Coliseum that the Raiders share with baseball’s Oakland Athletics. He said he had a three-hour dinner last week with Oakland’s City council president. Still, Davis doesn’t know where he stands with the city. AP article

Southern California housing market has some spring in its step — The Irvine-based data firm reported a median home price in the six-county Southland of $429,000, up 6.2% from April 2014 and the highest median since November 2007. The volume of sales climbed as well for the second straight month, up 8.5%. LA Times article

Bakersfield council to hear of proposed trash, sewer fee hikes – Sewer and garbage fee hikes for commercial and residential customers, part of the nearly $576 million proposed city budget, will get some attention Wednesday night when department heads make presentations about the new fiscal year to the Bakersfield City Council. Bakersfield Californian article

Tinkered-with Artisan Square plans up for commission review – The developer of a controversial shopping center proposed for the northwest has submitted slightly modified plans to the city that will be considered by the Bakersfield Planning Commission Thursday. And city staff is recommending the project’s approval.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stevinson Ranch Golf Club to close in July – Stevinson Ranch Golf Club, golf’s award-winning “Jewel of the Valley” since its opening in 1995, will close in July. Owner George Kelley, who co-designed the acclaimed Merced County course with John Harbottle III on family-owned wetlands property, said the downturn in rounds played in recent years, coupled with serious water concerns, forced Stevinson Ranch’s closure effective July 18. Merced Sun-Star article

Sacramento Ballet cancels performances, lays off dancers for final three weeks of season — The Sacramento Ballet has laid off all of its dancers for the remainder of the 2014-15 season and has canceled its popular Beer and Ballet series slated to run later this month. However, members of the ballet have formed their own company called the Capital Dance Project and have scheduled a performance for May 30 at the Crest Theatre.  Sacramento Bee article

State worker salary database — This database allows you to search the salaries of California’s 300,000-plus state workers and view up to eight years of their pay history. Sacramento Bee article

6 Chinese citizens charged with stealing Silicon Valley trade secrets — Three Chinese professors were among six people charged in federal court with stealing trade secrets from two U.S. companies, including one based in San Jose, and sharing them with a university in China to obtain contracts.  LA Times article; AP article



New guidelines approved for emergency drought relief funding – Communities suffering from years of extremely dry conditions could receive their share of $19 million in funding to pay for bottled water supplies and drought-related projects under a new set of guidelines. LA Times article

California farmers propose voluntary cuts – Farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are proposing voluntarily cutting their water use to avoid even harsher restrictions later this summer as the state’s record drought continues.  AP article; Stockton Record article

Cutting water use by 36 percent? We’re far from there – City water consumers — now officially required by the state to use 36 percent less water — actually used more of the precious substance in April than March, sparking expressions of deep concern from water board members Tuesday.  Bakersfield Californian article

Kern will work on its own residential water restriction plan – The plan could limit the days when property owners can water their landscaping and other rules designed to save water in California’s severe four-year drought. But supervisors will take the process slowly, working to develop the rules in cooperation with more than 30 water districts with county franchise agreements. Bakersfield Californian article

Stanislaus County properties limited to watering twice a week – The urgency action limits outdoor watering to two times a week in the county jurisdiction, with the rules taking affect immediately in unincorporated pockets of Modesto, towns such as Salida, Empire and Denair and the outskirts of Riverbank, Oakdale and other cities, where affluent people build their dream homes. Modesto Bee article

Kern supervisors enact water protection plan over opposition – Kern County supervisors approved a plan Tuesday that is designed to protect water supplies in the desert around Ridgecrest. They acted in the face of heated opposition from those that believe the move is a violation of private property rights. Bakersfield Californian article

Water fee approved by San Joaquin County supervisors – A new fee on all county residents will take effect in July that is geared toward helping fund critical water conservation efforts in San Joaquin County. Stockton Record article

Latino group, Kern supervisors ask Gov. Brown for more water – Hey, Gov. Jerry Brown! Cut environmental water use by 25 percent. That was the message the California Latino Water Coalition sent in a two-page letter to the governor.  Hanford Sentinel article

Dan Walters: UFW dealt big setback by judges – Last week, the 5th District Court of Appeal handed Gerawan and its loyalists a major victory, declaring that the ALRB erred by refusing to consider whether the UFW had given up representational rights. Even more importantly, it ruled that the mandatory mediation law is unconstitutional because it “violates equal protection principles and constitutes an improper delegation of legislative authority.” If upheld by the state Supreme Court, the unanimous appellate court decision is an immense blow to the UFW, which has failed to achieve the industrywide unionization envisioned in 1975 when Jerry Brown signed the Agricultural Labor Relations Act.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Modesto Bee: Overwatering? Better to fix it than get a ticket — The only way Modesto, or any other Valley city, is going to reach the state’s water-reduction goals is by getting tough. It’s a sad fact, but without enforcement many people and entities will ignore the rules for watering lawns and landscaping. Modesto Bee editorial

Michael Fitzgerald: Goodbye grass, hello money — Remind me: why do we have lawns? Is it aesthetic? Something about affecting the wealth of an English estate? Or do we have lawns because we have lawns, though arguably they are outmoded and unimportant? Whatever the reason, cities up and down the state now offer popular “cash for grass” programs, paying residents to rip out thirsty lawns. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record


California drought: People support water conservation, in theory — Californians widely support Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for mandatory water cuts amid the deepening drought, according to a new poll of state residents — but many don’t know if they can pitch in.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Golf courses slice water use to cope with ongoing drought — Golf courses across the central San Joaquin Valley — like courses and country clubs throughout the state — are throttling back on irrigation and reducing the acreage of grass that they must water as they cope with California’s drought.  Fresno Bee article

Oakdale Irrigation District delays decision on Trinitas water flap – A dispute over longtime irrigators being forced to share water with recently annexed almond barons was not resolved Tuesday because protesters had not submitted their petition. Modesto Bee article

Lois Henry: Bill aims to open up secret well information – There is absolutely no good reason water well information should be secret. But it is. That’s right. You can’t go down to the Kern County Environmental Health Department and see well completion records. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

California drought: Silicon Valley faces sweeping water cuts – Nearly 1 million Silicon Valley residents will face strict water quotas — and pricey premiums for going over — under what will soon be the Bay Area’s most far-reaching rationing plan in four years of drought.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Water conservation leads to unexpected outcomes – Cities across the valley are working to cut their water use under new regulations as the state struggles through its fourth year of drought. However, the reductions are having different effects in different towns, in some cases having unexpected repercussions. KVPR report

Lake Mission Viejo may soon be filled with purified recycled water — The group that operates a private lake in Orange County has proposed building a $5-million purification facility so it can begin using recycled water instead of the potable supplies it has relied on for decades. LA Times article

S&W Seed Co. record quarterly revenue up 276 percent — Fresno-based S&W Seed Co. — publicly traded on Nasdaq under the symbol SANW — announced record quarterly revenue of $30.5 million, up 276 percent from last year. The Business Journal article

Hilmar Cheese wins national sustainability award — Hilmar Cheese Co. has won a national award for sustainable dairy production, just a year after nearby Joseph Gallo Farms did the same. Modesto Bee article

Report: Honeybees continue to suffer colony collapse — A new report indicates that honey bees — critical to the almond industry — are continuing to decline from a combination of parasites and arguably pesticide use. Visalia Times-Delta article

Owens Valley ranchers and environmentalists brought together by drought — The drought has worked a miracle in the Owens Valley, as environmental activists and ranchers have buried decades of enmity to forge a plan to save ranch land — at the expense of hard-fought environmental protections.  LA Times article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sacramento Bee: Gov. Jerry Brown can savor an accomplishment as crime fals, along with prison population – Gov. Brown is entitled to a feeling of accomplishment for his criminal justice realignment, as are the county officials who are making it work.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Study finds lingering spike in car theft after prison change – A new study says California continues to see a spike in auto thefts since a change in prison policy four years ago forced many local jails to release more inmates early. AP article; LA Times article

Most crime down in Stockton, according to April crime report – Burglaries are down 13.6 percent over the first four months of 2015 compared with the same time last year, according to statistics released by the Stockton Police Department. Stockton Record article

Sacramento police chief wants body cameras for officers – Sacramento Police officers may soon be armed with a new tool that city officials hope will help restore community trust in law enforcement: body cameras. Sacramento Bee article


Privacy often trumps transparency with police shooting videos – Across the country, law enforcement agencies are equipping police and patrol cars with cameras to capture interactions between officers and the public. But many of those police forces, like Gardena’s, do not release the recordings to the public, citing concerns about violating the privacy of officers and others shown in the recordings and the possibility of interfering with investigations. LA Times article


Danny Morrison: Ten actions that could put an end to senseless murders in our city – The Bakersfield resident writes, “This is my list. It’s a little outside the box. Some ideas are abstract concepts. Others are straight and to the point.”  Morrison op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Sacramento County law enforcement leaders ask supervisors for more money – After responding to years of budget cuts, Sacramento County law enforcement leaders said Tuesday they want more money to improve their crime-fighting efforts. Sacramento Bee article

Stockton seeks anti-violence czar – As the first full fiscal year under the city’s public-safety sales tax nears its June 30 conclusion, police hiring continues steadily but the Measure A-supported Office of Violence Prevention’s evolution remains plodding. Stockton Record article

Contra Costa ending solitary confinement at juvenile hall — Contra Costa County officials will no longer punish youths by placing them in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, as part of preliminary legal settlements announced Tuesday that advocates say are the first of their kind in the nation.  San Francisco Chronicle article



Cal State budget not enough to boost graduation speed, officials say – California State University is standing in a budget hole of nearly half a billion dollars compared with pre-recession funding, threatening the system’s long-term goals of hiring hundreds more faculty and substantially improving students’ time to graduation, officials said Tuesday. LA Times article

Merced schools trying to weigh play space and water conservation – For Merced area schools, it’s a balancing act to try to conserve water while maintaining the recreation fields at campuses around the city. To that end, the Merced Union High School District is continually tweaking a plan it started a couple of years ago, while the Merced City School District prepares a formal plan this summer. Merced Sun-Star article

School districts struggling to get reserves cap repealed – Advocates for school districts are still hoping they can persuade legislative leaders and the governor to repeal the limit on how much money districts can annually keep in reserve. So far, though, they’ve struck out.  EdSource article

Modesto youngsters take a spin at coding a robot’s run — On Star Trek, robots think for themselves. But the rolling gadgets at Freedom Elementary were not so bright. Step-by-step thinking got a workout in a pilot programming class for youngsters run by tech instructors. Modesto Bee article

New middle school boundaries adopted by Visalia Unified — New attendance boundaries that dictate which middle schools students will attend beginning Aug. 2016 were adopted by Visalia Unified board members on May 12. The boundaries will impact 842 students, which include the 728 who are to attend the new middle school in northwest Visalia that will open its doors for instruction August 2016. Visalia Times-Delta article


California joins other states, provinces in climate change agreement — Gov. Jerry Brown signed an agreement Tuesday with leaders from 11 other states and countries pledging cooperation to battle climate change.  LA Times article; San Jose Mercury News article; San Francisco Chronicle article; Sacramento Bee article

Gravel mine near Sanger clears final hurdle — Fresno County supervisors dismissed an appeal of a proposed gravel mine east of Sanger when the man who appealed the issue didn’t show up after sending an email saying he was dropping his appeal. Fresno Bee article

4.0 earthquake reported in Merced County — magnitude 4.0 earthquake shook a rural area of Merced County Tuesday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The quake was reported around 11:36 a.m., about 25 miles southwest of South Dos Palos, the USGS reported. Merced Sun-Star article

About 21,000 gallons of oil leaked off Santa Barbara County beaches — Emergency officials were responding Tuesday afternoon to a ruptured pipeline that was estimated to have leaked 21,000 gallons of oil into the ocean off the Santa Barbara County coast, authorities said. LA Times article

California oil regulators could lose power over aquifer mess – Under fire for letting petroleum companies pump wastewater into aquifers, California oil-field regulators could see some of their responsibilities taken away — and handed to other agencies. San Francisco Chronicle article

Stockton Record: Long-awaited gate for Smith Canal – Smith Canal is an odd little waterway that on maps looks like a finger poking Stockton. Residents along the canal got some good news last week. Stockton Record editorial

Government releases fire plan to protect struggling bird — A federal wildfire strategy released Tuesday aims to protect the West’s sagebrush country that is home to a struggling bird species whose potential listing as a threatened or endangered species already has delayed energy projects and oil and gas deals. AP article

Health/Human Services

State program promotes health – Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget renews a plan to cut the state’s employee medical costs with a cheaper, lower-benefit plan and shifting more costs to workers. The unions aren’t thrilled. But about a five-minute walk east of the Capitol, a 3-year-old collaboration between the administration and the state’s biggest labor organization is testing another method to chip away at the state’s employee medical costs. Sacramento Bee article

Medicare data show contrast in generic, brand prescribing – The most-used medicines in Medicare’s prescription drug program are generics, but the program spends the most on brand-name drugs, led by the heartburn treatment Nexium, according to an unprecedented release of government data Thursday.  AP article

Mom writes about young daughter’s transformation: 76 pounds lost in 14 months — Breanna Bond swims lap after lap for the Clovis Swim Club, and the longer the distance, the better the seventh-grader performs. Watching her swim, it’s impossible to picture this Fresno 13-year-old as anything other than a fit and trim teen. But she hasn’t always been. Fresno Bee article

Bill to expand role of nurse practitioners moving through Legislature — Nurse practitioners have years of training and clinical experience, but they’re not allowed to work in California without a doctor’s supervision. A measure to change that is moving through the California Legislature. Senate Bill 323 has been approved by the Senate and is now in the Assembly.  KPBS report


State nears carpool lane decal limit for Volt, other plug-in hybrids — Buyers of plug-in hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt and the Toyota Prius are about to lose an important perk – a carpool lane permit. California has capped the number of the Green Clean Air Vehicle decals that allow such cars into the lanes at 70,000. As of Monday, it had granted 66,255, leaving fewer than 4,000 left. LA Times article

Video chatting while driving? Yes, it’s apparently a thing – Beware of the video chatters: Ten percent of drivers surveyed in a poll commissioned by AT&T said they used their smartphones to video chat while driving, the company said Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Steve Hansen: Is streetcar line worth the money? – The Sacramento City Council member writes, “Streetcars are the key to reducing traffic and improving parking, which are already a challenge in many midtown and downtown neighborhoods. As midtown becomes a more popular destination for dining and nightlife and as downtown adds more housing, we need a better and affordable means of public transportation. Streetcars are the answer.”  Hansen op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Dennis Neufeld: Sacramento’s costly streetcar project provides few benefits – The research director of Eye on Sacramento writes, “The streetcar project is an illusion of imagined progress, another expensive grasp by Sacramento’s developers and politicians to attain an indefinable “world-class status” for a city that needs no such embellishment to its reputation.”  Neufeld op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Stockton mayor’s salary to be cut – Mayor Anthony Silva will, indeed, endure a 30-percent pay cut. But so will his colleagues on the City Council. The 30-percent pay cut means Silva’s salary will drop from $104,970 to $72,384 on July 1. Council salaries will drop from nearly $24,000 to less than $17,000.  Stockton Record article

Kern eases ‘excess’ pot cultivation penalties — Kern County will be more careful about how its local authorities punish medical marijuana patients who grow too much of their drug. Supervisors, on Tuesday, approved changes to the penalty section of an ordinance that limits the number of marijuana plants a patient can grow on a parcel of unincorporated county land to 12.  Bakersfield Californian article

Hanford fireworks show on track for July 4 — With the Fourth of July fast approaching, the Hanford Chamber of Commerce has raised about 60 percent of the funds needed for the city’s annual fireworks show. Hanford Sentinel article

Lois Henry: Author’s donation saves Kern animals — The next Wings of Rescue flight taking animals out of locally overcrowded shelters will be dedicated to the person who made it happen — best-selling author Fern Michaels, according to Wings co-founder Yehuda Netenal. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Tighter security at Oakland council meeting called excessive — A call for tighter security at Oakland City Council meetings may have gone too far Tuesday, causing city officials to openly question whether they had violated a state law. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We applaud the formation of the Valley Caucus, an alignment of lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate from eight counties in the heart of our state.

Modesto Bee – The only way Modesto, or any other Valley city, is going to reach the state’s water-reduction goals is by getting tough. It’s a sad fact, but without enforcement many people and entities will ignore the rules for watering lawns and landscaping.

Sacramento Bee – Gov. Brown is entitled to a feeling of accomplishment for his criminal justice realignment, as are the county officials who are making it work; A welcome victory for

Stockton Record – A thorough investigation must be done into an inexcusable faux pas that happened during the June 2014 Primary Election in San Joaquin County; Smith Canal is an odd little waterway that on maps looks like a finger poking Stockton. Residents along the canal got some good news last week.

Upcoming Events


  • Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler will speak to the League of Women Voters of Tulare County at the Lamp Liter Inn in Visalia on Tuesday, May 19, at noon.  His topic: “State Politics, Valley Implications.” RSVP by May 14.  More information:  (559) 732-1251 or


Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge

Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.

Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

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