May 20, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

California Senate approves broad new gun restrictions — The California Senate on Thursday passed 11 bills aimed at strengthening the state’s firearms regulations, already some of the strictest in the nation, and giving the Legislature leverage to negotiate with backers of a proposed gun-safety ballot initiative. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Jose Mercury News articleKQED reportSan Francisco Chronicle article

Signatures submitted for pro-death penalty ballot measure – A campaign for a ballot initiative to speed executions for inmates on death row in California submitted signatures Thursday to appear on an increasingly crowded ballot that is expected to include an opposing measure to repeal capital punishment. AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Gov. Brown

Fresno Bee: A hollow offer to open abuse records — Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is missing an opportunity to provide the public with important information about the little-seen and the often tragic world of child welfare. Fresno Bee editorial

Valley politics

Gay pride question sparks Bakersfield mayoral candidates debate – Bakersfield’s 25 mayoral candidates have been largely respectful to one another at several forum-style events this election season, but some took their gloves off Thursday night during a looser, debate-style gathering at Cal State Bakersfield. Bakersfield Californian article

Political scramble: Valadao mum on Trump; sign police out in force – Rep. David Valadao isn’t supporting Donald Trump. But he isn’t opposing him either. At least that’s the best understanding a reader could take from his campaign’s response to a straight yes-or-no-question: “Is (Valadao) going to support Trump?” We didn’t get a yes or no answer. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced Sun-Star: Formidable legislators Gray and Galgiani deserve our votes – Technically, state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani and Assemblyman Adam Gray have opponents for their seats. Technically, they could lose their elections. Practically speaking, there isn’t a ghost of a chance that will happen. Why? Because both are doing what they were elected to do – making careful and considered votes on difficult issues, representing their constituents and playing by the rules. Merced Sun-Star editorial

Bakersfield mayoral candidate profile: Scott Monroe — Scott Monroe, 57, general contractor, Scotty’s Construction. Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare County supervisor candidate questionnaire: Ted Macaulay — Ted Macaulay, 59, insurance Agent and Registered Representative. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Fresno sheriff, DA back death penalty initiative — Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims and District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp Thursday hailed the submission of 593,000 signatures that will likely ensure that the Death Penalty Reform and Savings initiative appears on the ballot in November. Fresno Bee article

Dan Walters: New California laws threaten rights of politically incorrect – Those who, by word and deed, are out of sync with California’s deeply blue political ethos risk social ostracism. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

California sees flood of new voters spurred by presidential race – The nation’s hard-fought presidential primary contests have brought more than 850,000 new voters onto California’s registration rolls, dwarfing numbers seen in 2008 and 2012, according to figures from the state’s 58 counties. Sacramento Bee article

Alex Padilla: Other states try to limit voting, but not California – California’s secretary of state writes, “California Democrats and Republicans are working together to expand access to voting. There’s no excuse for the partisan divide in our country around voting rights. But the Supreme Court’s decision to gut the Voting Rights Act has given free rein to those who want to try to cling to power by suppressing voter turnout.” Padilla op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Bill Whalen: Top-two primary hinders Republicans in bid for U.S. Senate seat – The new rules – the top two finishers advance, regardless of party affiliation – are in effect for a third election cycle. For the first time, it could have a dramatic impact: two Democrats moving on to the general election. Which is sad, but not for reasons you might assume. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Thousands have left California’s American Independent Party in the last month – A new analysis finds nearly 32,000 voters in California’s American Independent Party changed their official registration and left the party in the two weeks after a Los Angeles Times investigation identified widespread confusion among the party’s members. LA Times article

Plastic bag industry submits second California ballot measure – The battle over whether California should ban single-use plastic bags is already headed to voters this fall. Now, it looks like they’ll also be asked where proceeds from bag fees charged to consumers should be spent. Capital Public Radio report

Tom Steyer wades into intraparty election battle — With the oil industry funneling millions into campaigns for moderate candidates in Democrat-on-Democrat battles in three districts, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is stepping up to boost a more liberal incumbent. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

California Assembly Oks proposed notice to police in videos – California lawmakers on Thursday advanced a bill intended to protect police officers from harm by giving them time to decide whether to keep video footage secret. AP article

Thomas Holyoke: ‘Dark money’ political speech should be in the public square – The Fresno State political science professor and author of “The Ethical Lobbyist” writes, “Speech is fundamentally a public act. It occurs in the public sphere. When we hear, and thus behold, a speaker, we can listen, argue, agree and even ignore that speaker. More importantly, we can respond to that speaker and call him or her out when we believe they are wrong. That is called accountability. We should try it sometime with dark-money donors.” Holyoke op-ed in Fresno Bee

Robin Abcarian: Why insurers oppose a fantastic proposal to let California women have a year’s supply of birth control – On Monday, the California Senate is expected to approve a bill that would allow women to pick up a year’s worth of birth control pills at a time, instead of forcing them, as their health insurance companies so often do, to return to the pharmacy every month or every three months for refills. Abcarian in LA Times

Big challenge for Sanders to get California independents to vote — For Bernie Sanders to defeat Hillary Clinton in California’s June 7th Democratic presidential primary, he’ll likely need strong support from independents. But new data suggest the Sanders campaign faces a big hurdle. KPCC report

Strickland admits guilt, agrees to $40,000 fine — Former Republican lawmaker Tony Strickland will pay a $40,000 fine under a settlement with campaign-finance regulators approved Thursday, with the former lawmaker admitting that he arranged for supporters to bypass voter-approved contribution limits during his 2010 race for state controller. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Kevin Carlin: AB 2316 is insider deal that soaks taxpayers – The San Diego attorney who represents taxpayers and public-interest organizations through California, including Fresno contractor Stephen Davis, writes, “Legislation to prevent more shady leaseback school construction contracts is required, but AB 2316’s proposed ‘fix’ will make things worse and reward the biggest offenders. The false savings and integrity proponents of AB 2316 are touting are smoke and mirrors that human nature and profit-seeking contractors can easily defeat at the expense of schools and taxpayers.” Carlin op-ed in Fresno Bee

Victor Davis Hanson: Lack of American commitment makes this a dangerous time — All the saber-rattling of 2016 is beginning to sound a lot like the boasts and bullying of fascist Italy, imperial Japan and Nazi Germany of the 1930s. But why so much tough talk – and why now? After the abject pullout from Iraq in 2011 and the subsequent collapse of the country eroded U.S. credibility, after the fake Syrian red lines, the failed reset with Russia, the Benghazi fiasco and the slashing of the military, America has lost its old deterrence. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Many California cities predict no conservation requirements under new water rules – On Thursday, several California water agencies told The Sacramento Bee that, based on the new rules, they expect their assessments to show they have plenty of water, and to largely back away from requiring customers to reduce water use tied to a specific target. Sacramento Bee article

New law allows tenants to be penalized for blight – The Fresno City Council voted unanimously Thursday to adopt an ordinance that adds occupants of a property, and others, to the list of who can be penalized for chronic nuisances or blight in rental housing. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Merced’s proposed budget would add police officers, improve equipment – The city of Merced is planning to hire new officers and upgrade their equipment in the next fiscal year, according to the first draft of the city’s budget. Merced Sun-Star article

Mayor Silva: Progress has been made – In what may or may not have been his final “State of the City” address as mayor, Anthony Silva touted Stockton’s progress during his 31Ž2 years in office, a period marked by the city’s emergence from bankruptcy and a slow, ongoing effort to recover. Stockton Record article

State of the City: Optimism is the word of the day – Many in attendance at the 2016 State of the City Address on Thursday agreed with Mayor Anthony Silva that Stockton is an up-and-coming city once again. During his fourth address, Silva said Stockton now is a much better place to live and raise a family. Many who attended the event at the Port of Stockton echoed similar sentiments. Stockton Record article

Sports Authority to close all of its stores, including dozens in California – Sports Authority will close all of its 450-plus stores across the United States after it was unable to secure a buyer, according to a new court filing. The liquidation includes dozens of stores in California. As of last month, the retailer had 76 stores in the state, according to its website. LA Times article

Joel Fox: Raising wages — The Department of Labor’s new overtime rules come at a jarring time for California businesses which have seen recent changes in California laws to increase both the minimum wage and mandated leave. Small business employers can’t catch a breath before a new mandate comes down affecting their employees and ultimately their bottom line. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Octavio Barajas: Vote yes on Measure F – The southeast library branch patron writes, “The passage of Measure F can rekindle productivity for the entire Kern County Library system. Measure F would increase days of operation by improving library hours by 60 percent and would increase programming and materials such as new books and technology by 25 percent. So this coming June 7 help reinvigorate one of the few remaining public family orientated services to an acceptable standard by voting Yes for Measure F.” Barajas op-ed in Bakersfield California

Tom Pavich: Vote no on Measure F – The Bakersfield Tea Party member writes, “The Bakersfield Tea Party strongly urges a no vote on Measure F. It is time for our government to innovate, think outside the box and implement more efficient systems. Our County needs to explore all options available before reaching further into the taxpayer’s pockets.” Pavich op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Hustler Hollywood says it plans to meet Fresno’s zoning rules – The city of Fresno may have jumped the gun in objecting to a planned Hustler Hollywood store on Shaw Avenue. Fresno Bee article

Merced medical pot ordinance gains planners’ recommendation – Merced city planners have recommended that a revised medical cannabis ordinance be approved in light of changes that more strictly regulate cultivation. Merced Sun-Star article

AMR Ambulance pulling out of Tulare County – American Medical Response ambulance service will close its doors in Tulare County on Aug. 31, affecting 71 employees. AMR and its predecessors have been in Tulare County since 1981, but low Medi-Cal reimbursements rates don’t cover operation costs, said company spokesman Jason Sorrick. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Tour of California rolls through Lodi – again – Hundreds stood along the tree-lined streets of downtown Lodi, and hundreds more gathered in small groups along the route as the Amgen Tour of California started the grueling fifth stage of the eight-stage bicycle race. Stockton Record article

Jeffrey Scott Agency moving to historic downtown Fresno building – Local developer Reza Assemi is near completion on renovation of the old PG&E Building at 1544 Fulton St. in Downtown Fresno. Assemi expects to finish renovation work by the end of this month and already has a tenant for the 9,280-square-foot building, the Jeffrey Scott Agency, which will be moving from its current location at 670 P St. The Business Journal article

LA City Council approves surge in homelessness spending in $8.76-billion budget – The Los Angeles City Council on Thursday voted unanimously to adopt Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed $8.76-billion budget for the coming fiscal year, signing off on a plan that includes dramatic increases to spending on housing and services for the city’s growing homeless population. LA Times article

San Jose housing prices: County’s median hits $1 million for first time – The median price of a single-family home in Santa Clara County hit seven figures for the first time last month: $1 million on the button. Prices grew even dizzier in San Mateo County, where the $1.2 million average matched the previous record, set in May 2015. San Jose Mercury News article

Realtor organizations in Fresno, Tulare merging – Realtor associations in the central San Joaquin Valley are merging to provide members and clients with better services while meeting new national operating standards. Fresno Bee article

Sacramento soccer stadium would seat 19,621 for starters – Sacramento’s proposed Major League Soccer stadium would seat 19,621 fans at first, but could be expanded to as many as 25,000, according to plans filed this week. Sacramento Bee article

ACLU: Asset seizures hit minority communities harder — A new report from American Civil Liberties Union says the federal government’s civil asset-forfeiture program disproportionately affects minorities and poor people. San Diego Union-Tribune article


Judge finds fault with ‘Delta Plan’ – A plan that was supposed to serve as a comprehensive roadmap for the Delta through the year 2100 now must be partially rewritten, after a judge this week ruled on complaints stemming from no fewer than seven lawsuits. Stockton Record article

Delta land deal clears legal hurdle – A San Joaquin County Superior Court judge on Thursday cleared the way for a Southern California water district to complete its purchase of 20,000 acres of land in the Delta, ruling that it was too soon to say how the property would be used. Stockton Record articleAP article

Report: Tulare County residents suffer from drought’s effects — Tulare County residents say four years of drought have taken a toll on their physical and mental health. That’s according to the results of a survey released recently by the California Department of Public Health. About 400 people responded to the survey, which was administered last October in East Porterville and Cutler-Orosi. Fresno Bee article

Tulare County to discuss groundwater sustainability agencies — Communities and water systems across California have until June of next year to form groundwater sustainability agencies to develop strategies to preserve groundwater, and on Monday the progress of those efforts will be discussed. Visalia Times-Delta article

Richard Harriman: Don’t build wastewater plants until they’re needed – The environmental and land-use attorney writes, “The current paradigm of building hugely expensive, large-scale centralized wastewater treatment facilities should be re-examined in the light of currently available wastewater treatment technology and financing options.” Harriman op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno City Council agrees to revise gang ordinance – The Fresno City Council voted 7-0 Thursday to adopt an ordinance aimed at punishing gang members for harassing or recruiting school children, but some on the council – as well as Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer – want to see some of it reworded before final approval. Fresno Bee article

Gary Condit’s sex life goes to court in hearing on Chandra Levy’s murder — Defense attorneys for the man convicted of killing Chandra Levy lit up former California Congressman Gary Condit and his personal life Thursday, with explicit allegations that the onetime lawmaker is a “main suspect” in Levy’s 2001 death. McClatchy Newspapers article

San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr resigns after killing of woman — San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr resigned Thursday, hours after a city officer killed a woman at the edge of the Bayview neighborhood and after he was asked to step down by Mayor Ed Lee. San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleNew York Times article

LAPD union sues Chief Charlie Beck over ‘corrupting influence’ in discipline process — Tensions between Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and the union representing LAPD officers boiled over into a federal lawsuit Thursday, with the Los Angeles Police Protective League claiming the chief has a “corrupting influence” on the disciplinary process and calling for major changes in the way the department reviews serious misconduct cases. LA Times article

Wash your weed, says Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department – Wash your weed. That’s the message coming from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department after it removed 20,000 marijuana plants from a grow near the San Joaquin River earlier this week. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento County sheriff wants department to move forward after retaliation verdict – Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said he is committed to moving his department forward after this week’s multimillion-dollar judgment awarded to four female sheriff’s deputies who said they were retaliated against by superior officers under his watch, even as county attorneys plan to appeal the jurors’ verdict. Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorial

Sex charges filed against Los Banos police officer, ex-teacher – Formal felony charges of sexual penetration and oral copulation were filed Thursday against a former high school teacher from Los Banos, who is now a city police officer. Merced Sun-Star article

Local NAACP president pleads no contest to spousal abuse charge — Bakersfield NAACP President Patrick Jackson pleaded no contest Thursday to a misdemeanor spousal abuse charge. Bakersfield Californian article


California’s foreign student population explodes over decade – The trend comes as learning abroad at a prestigious American university becomes more popular among foreign students, and as California public colleges increasingly count on the revenue generated by the higher tuition international students pay. Sacramento Bee article

Lemons into lemonade: Students, mentors team up for lessons in business and life – Two local women leaders with one common concept have initiated a unique public-private partnership and are literally turning lemons into lemonade. Stockton Record article

Fresno State to honor U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera – U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera will receive an honorary doctorate during Fresno State’s 105th commencement on Saturday, May 21, at the Save Mart Center. Fresno Bee article

Lincoln seniors hope project helps the homeless – Lincoln High School seniors Norris Palmer and Austin Ortega lifted a tarp away from a triangular pod, with the hopes that it would become a new resource for those who cannot find housing in any of the local shelters. Stockton Record article

Advocates: More transparency, accountability needed for new education funds – Education advocates are criticizing Governor Jerry Brown’s recent revised budget proposal as a lost an opportunity to make sure tax-funded education increases are getting to the kids who need it the most. KPCC report

Gov. Brown’s push for more undergraduates to get teaching credentials – A small item in Gov. Jerry Brown’s May revision of California’s $122 billion budget for the coming fiscal year touches at the core of how the state prepares most of its teachers. EdSource article

Sacramento City Council could retreat from after-school care in 2017 – Sacramento councilwoman and mayoral candidate Angelique Ashby said this week the city should consider eliminating two school-based child care programs running in the red, arguing that other providers can fill the gap starting in summer 2017. Sacramento Bee article

UC Berkeley law student nominated to serve on board of regents — UC Berkeley law student Paul Monge has been nominated to serve as the 2017-18 student representative on the UC Board of Regents, an appointment the board is scheduled to consider in July, the university announced Wednesday. San Jose Mercury News article

Los Banos school board trustees clash over Creekside audit — An external financial investigation into the building history of Creekside Junior High School has led to more questions on the Los Banos Unified School District’s fiduciary responsibility. Los Banos Enterprise article


What are the odds of dying in an earthquake? – It’s easy to be anxious about an earthquake. A leading seismic expert recently warned that Southern California’s section of the San Andreas fault is “locked, loaded and ready to roll.” But experts also say it’s important to keep perspective: The chances of dying in a large temblor are actually quite small. LA Times article

Failures that led to Santa Barbara oil spill were ‘completely unacceptable,’ investigators say —  The operator of a pipeline that spilled 123,000 gallons of crude oil in Santa Barbara last year “failed on multiple levels to prevent, detect and respond to the incident,” a federal pipeline administrator said Thursday. LA Times articleAP article

California dairy turns cow waste into power — Forty-five percent of California’s methane emissions come from dairies, the largest source of the potent greenhouse gas in the state. The 700 cows on Cace Van Steyn’s dairy farm in Elk Grove excrete about 98,000 pounds of manure and urine every day. All that waste produces methane. Capital Public Radio report

Health/Human Services 

Law allows women to obtain birth control without prescription, but few pharmacies offer service — Now, legally, women can simply walk into their local pharmacy and pick up contraceptive pills, the patch, or the ring — much like getting a flu shot or buying over-the-counter medication. But good luck finding a pharmacy that will actually do it. KQED report

Americans could prevent roughly half of all cancer deaths by doing these four things – Roughly half of cancer deaths in the United States could be prevented or forestalled if all Americans quit smoking, cut back on drinking, maintained a healthful weight and got at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. LA Times article

Modesto physician building a local specialty care empire — Gurpreet Singh, a Modesto physician and investor in long-term care facilities, has not rested since revamping the former City Hospital on 17th Street to create Central Valley Specialty Hospital three years ago. Modesto Bee article

Sutter Health ranked in top five large health care systems — Sacramento’s Sutter Health and its Valley Area division have been named among the top-performing health systems in the country by Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Truven Health Analytics. Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing

South Valley homebuilder plans 144 homes in Visalia – Local homebuilder San Joaquin Valley Homes announced it has purchased 37 acres of open land in Visalia with plans to build 144 single-family homes. The Business Journal article

Fresno City Council Oks parks facelift planning – The Fresno City Council voted 7-0 Thursday to hire a consultant firm to give the city’s parks master plan a major facelift. The contract is for up to $450,000. Fresno Bee article

Dozens turn out to share ideas on Awesome Spot playground in Modesto — Modesto parents Katharine and Mike Reynolds would love to be able to see their daughter and son share the fun of a playground. That’s what brought them to a community meeting in downtown Modesto on Wednesday night for The Awesome Spot playground planned for Beyer Community Park in north Modesto. Modesto Bee article


State planners cut $754 million in transportation projects – The California Transportation Commission has adopted more than $754 million in cuts to planned highway, transit and other projects because of falling tax revenues tied to gas prices. AP article

Busy schedule interferes with board member’s GET duties — Gregory S. Bielli, the newest board member at Bakersfield’s municipal bus company, attended his first full board meeting Tuesday. That’s news why? Because the Kern County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed him to the Golden Empire Transit District board more than two and a half months ago, on March 1. Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Oakdale Irrigation District board member should be booted for illegal vote, lawsuit says – A judge should throw Gary Osmundson off the Oakdale Irrigation District board because he voted for a money-for-fallowing program in hopes of putting $119,700 in his own pocket, says a lawsuit amended this week to personally name him as a defendant. Modesto Bee article

Maria L. Gutierrez led Univision’s Valley station to high ratings – Maria L. Gutiérrez, Univision’s former senior vice president and regional director of local media for KFTV (Channel 21.1), died Thursday. She had been battling cancer since late 2015. Fresno Bee article

Racist attacks on LA council president prompt arrest, outrage – Racial slurs. Anti-gay epithets. The N-word. The F-bomb. Over the last three years, the language used by members of the public at Los Angeles City Council meetings has grown increasingly graphic, moving from the vulgar and the sexually explicit into the hateful and, some say, frightening.

San Francisco pays woman who fell at Palace of Fine Arts $2.25 million — The steps at the rotunda of the Palace of Fine Arts are a picturesque tourist attraction and a place where newlyweds pose for photos. They have also cost the city $2.25 million and a woman the ability to walk. San Francisco Chronicle article

San Francisco gets ‘fix-it’ team to address quality-of-life concerns — Responding to complaints that San Francisco’s streets and sidewalks are dirty, too many of its street lights are broken and potholes are tearing up cars, Mayor Ed Lee is creating a new position, a “fix-it director” who will report directly to him. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is missing an opportunity to provide the public with important information about the little-seen and the often tragic world of child welfare.

Merced Sun-Star  Technically, state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani and Assemblyman Adam Gray have opponents for their seats. Technically, they could lose their elections. Practically speaking, there isn’t a ghost of a chance that will happen. Why? Because both are doing what they were elected to do – making careful and considered votes on difficult issues, representing their constituents and playing by the rules.

Modesto Bee – Technically, state Sen. Cathleen Galgiani and Assemblyman Adam Gray have opponents for their seats. Technically, they could lose their elections. Practically speaking, there isn’t a ghost of a chance that will happen. Why? Because both are doing what they were elected to do – making careful and considered votes on difficult issues, representing their constituents and playing by the rules.

Sacramento Bee –The cost of Scott Jones’ “good old boy” management; Sometimes, certain Republicans don’t get the memo. So it happened Thursday on Capitol Hill when Democrats sought to add an amendment barring federal contractors from getting government work if they discriminate against gay, bisexual or transgender people.

Stockton Record – The concept, which sounds so simple, is frustratingly difficult for many parents to follow. Kids need to go to school.