May 21, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California physicians end opposition to aid-in-dying bill – The California Medical Assn. on Wednesday withdrew its opposition to a bill allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs for terminally ill patients who want to hasten their deaths, becoming the first such association in the nation to be neutral on an aid-in-dying bill. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article; San Jose Mercury News article; Sacramento Bee editorial

 George Skelton: Brown follows centrist course with earned income tax credit — It isn’t easy being California’s Democratic governor when you’re casting yourself as a tightwad bent on preserving budget discipline even as tax money overflows the treasury. Skelton column in LA Times

State budget

PPIC blog: Governor’s May Revision continues cautious approach — Despite the projected gains for this year, the current May Revision continues to take a cautious approach to revenue estimates for the coming year. PPIC blog 

Stockton Record: State budget proposal ‘conservatively’ sound — Few people have attached the label “conservative” to Gov. Brown during his decades in elected office. But conservative tendencies are serving him — and the state’s residents — well in regard to this budget.  Stockton Record editorial

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Businessman seeks initiative to overhaul ‘outdated’ California alimony law — For many, divorce is a difficult process fraught with emotional pain and financial battles, including lengthy legal disputes over such things as alimony. With that in mind, Steve Clark, an independent software consultant based in Huntington Beach, has put together a petition drive for an initiative intended to overhaul alimony law in California, Times Community News reported. His website,, is dedicated to the proposal. LA Times article


Other areas


Organized labor comes up short in Democratic state Senate runoff – The win by Steve Glazer, the Orinda mayor and veteran political strategist, over Concord assemblywoman and fellow Democrat Susan Bonilla was an embarrassment to the state’s politically powerful unions, which had poured millions into its effort to defeat Glazer only to see him win by more than 9 percentage points.  LA Times article; AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

 Tony Quinn: How Steve Glazer won – So how did he do it?  Glazer had crossed labor by helping elect Democrats not on their approved list.  He was blackballed as a political consultant, and then when he tried to run himself for the Assembly in 2014, labor unloaded on him and in the process managed to blow a winnable Assembly seat.  And then much to the surprise of the unions, he jumped into the special election for an open Senate seat in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties this spring. Three factors account for Glazer’s upset victory.  Quinn in Fox & Hounds

Feds probing allege voting rights violations involving disabled Californians – Federal authorities are investigating allegations that California and its courts are unlawfully denying voting rights to some intellectually disabled residents, according to documents released Wednesday.  LA Times article

Taking vacation time – on the campaign trail Summer and the Thanksgiving-Christmas holidays – prime time to take vacations and relax. But in the intense, politics-driven culture of the Capitol, by far the most popular period to sign up for vacation or leave surrounds the general election, when the staff members’ bosses may be up for reelection. Then, some two-thirds of the Assembly’s work force put in for at least some amount of vacation time, according to Assembly figures for 2014 reviewed by Capitol Weekly.  Capitol Weekly article

Sacramento lawmakers poised to consider making child death records secret –  The California Department of Social Services has quietly drafted a bill that would gut key portions of the state’s landmark law requiring child protective services agencies to release records when a youth dies of abuse or neglect. A vote is expected as early as Thursday.  LA Times article

California lawmakers propose harsher penalties for animal cruelty – In the wake of an attack on a marine wildlife rehabilitation facility in Laguna Beach, five legislators have authored a bill that was introduced Wednesday to increase the penalties for animal cruelty. LA Times article

Fresno gay-rights activist and her partner prepare for wedding –  Robin McGehee and Karen Johnston are school-girl giddy as they look out at their picturesque foothill property near Millerton Lake and point out the spot where they will exchange vows, the under-construction cocktail bar and the concrete slab dotted with trees where they will dance the night away under twinkling lights. Fresno Bee article

Capitol cops get bathroom training after guns left in toilet — Capitol Police officers are getting training after officers accidentally left their guns in the Capitol’s public bathrooms three times this year. One gun was found by a child.  AP article

Poll: Obama approval steady, improving with economic rebound — California voters continue to view President Barack Obama favorably, corresponding with their more positive outlook on his stewardship of the national economy, according to a new poll.  Sacramento Bee article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

California decision on farmer water cuts to apply broadly — A group of California farmers, in a surprising turnaround, is volunteering to give up a fourth of its available water this year, sharing a resource all but guaranteed to them for more than a century. A senior state official told The Associated Press Wednesday that he would decide whether to accept the offer by Friday.AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Optimism reigns among Stockton leaders – Based on the theme of this year’s State of the City event, Stockton finally is ready to sprint toward a brighter future after recent years staggering behind the pack amid collective gloom, pain and the crippling effects of fiscal destitution.  Stockton Record article

UC financial aid for out-of-state students a surprise to many — In 18 years as a college counselor in Santa Fe, Jennifer Dryfoos has sent many students to the University of California. But for the first time this year, a needy advisee received a financial aid package from the university. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Statewide taxpayer group questions legality of Salida fire assessments proposal – Soon after ballots were mailed this month in the Salida Fire Protection District, some questioned the legality of the district’s proposed special assessments for fire service under California’s Proposition 218. The Modesto Bee learned Wednesday that the Sacramento-based Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association is reviewing the special assessments proposed by the Salida district, though it’s premature to say whether the group will challenge the district. Modesto Bee article

Survey: Minority-owned businesses face loan obstacles – Minority businesses have a harder time getting bank loans than small companies in general, according to a survey released Thursday by Wells Fargo & Co. and the polling company Gallup. AP article

Foreclosures drop sharply in San Joaquin County – San Joaquin County foreclosure activity dropped sharply in April, down 12 percent from March and more than 60 percent below April 2014, RealtyTrac Inc. reported Thursday. Stockton Record article

LA could get 2020 Super Bowl if team, stadium are in place by 2018 – The league is eyeing the nation’s second-largest market as a possible host for Super Bowl LIV at the end of the 2019 season, but only if there is a relocated team (or teams) playing in a new L.A. stadium by the 2018 season.  LA Times article

NFL says clock ticking on Oakland effort to keep Raiders — Oakland continues to lag behind the other two cities hoping to retain their NFL teams and keep them from relocating to Los Angeles, an NFL official said Wednesday. In fact, the drive to keep the Raiders in the East Bay seems to be going in the wrong direction. Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article

San Jose joins list of million-person cities – San Jose, the center of California’s booming Silicon Valley, has joined the elite list of 10 U.S. cities with more than 1 million residents, according to a new Census Bureau estimate. Capitol Alert

Sacramento Bee: As an insider speaks out, chemical industry’s credibility sinks – Politicians know the cover-up can be worse than the crime. Parents tell their children that no matter what bonehead stunt they pull, they’ll make it worse by lying. Perhaps some American Chemistry Council and corporate executives whose companies produce certain types of flame retardants didn’t learn that lesson. Sacramento Bee editorial

Sprouts Farmers Market to open in Clovis — Clovis is getting a Sprouts Farmers Market. The grocery is coming next year to the Trading Post Shopping Center at Clovis and Herndon avenues, along with a Ross Dress for Less and Skechers stores and Pieology Pizzeria. Fresno Bee article


Last drought victims: Q&A on California senior water rights — Farmers and other landowners who staked the earliest claims to California’s water are last to suffer cutbacks at times of drought under the state’s water-rights system. Now the dry spell has become so severe that even some of these 4,000 “senior water rights holders” could be ordered to stop pumping from rivers and streams. A brief primer.  AP article

Stanislaus County officials say they are diligently working on groundwater problem – A group of Oakdale-area residents told Stanislaus County leaders Tuesday that investors still are ripping up grazing land and planting almond orchards that deplete the groundwater. Modesto Bee article

Hanford council explores big water cuts — Hanford residents may soon have to make big changes in their water habits, including less time cooling off at splash pads and making their yards a little browner.  Hanford Sentinel article

Water tracking app raises enough money for development — A new cell phone app that could help Fresnans track their water consumption is headed toward development. The app is the brainchild of a group of five sixth graders. Calling themselves the ‘fab five’, the boys came up with and pitched the idea of an app that taps into data collected by city water meters and supplies daily updates on a person’s water use.  KVPR report; The Business Journal article; Fresno Bee article

Tulare BPU commissioners to consider watering policy – Board of Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Watte said meeting the state-mandated 32 percent water consumption reduction in Tulare would require adopting Stage 4 conservation restrictions. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Millions in federal dollars aim to improve long-term water conservation – California is getting about $33 million in federal money for water recycling, irrigation improvements and other conservation projects in a new round of funding for water and energy efficiency projects in Western states.  LA Times article

Water truck renters suspected of illegal water withdrawal from Sacramento fire hydrant — The drivers of a rental water truck are facing tough questions after officers observed the truck’s hose connected to a south Sacramento fire hydrant. Sacramento Bee article 

Cal Water to hold informational drought meeting — Facing a state mandate to reduce its water usage by 32 percent starting June 1, the California Water Service Co. will hold a public meeting Thursday night to educate its nearly 300,000 Bakersfield customers on conservation and new water regulations.  Bakersfield Californian article

Mark Biddlecomb, Tim Johnson and Bill Mueller: Pacific trade pact is a good deal for rice farmers, waterfowl – Biddlecomb, Western region director for Ducks Unlimited, California Rice Commission president and CEO Johnson and Valley Vision CEO Mueller write, “In the case of our valley’s iconic crop – rice – the Pacific trade agreement will expand markets for the next generation of farmers. Today our best export market for rice is Japan. The TPP promises to expand that trade and improve the bottom line for family farms battered by the drought.” Biddlecomb/Johnson/Mueller op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Parole could end inmate’s effort to have sex change surgery – A California inmate who is seeking sex reassignment surgery at taxpayers’ expense faces a painful irony: If she wins freedom from a parole board, she would no longer be eligible for the prison-funded operation she says is crucial to her emotional health.  AP article

Fresno Bee: Manchester police proposal fits city needs – Taxpayer dollars are best used strategically with a goal of accomplishing multiple objectives. A proposal to anchor the Fresno Police Department’s Violent Crime Impact Team at Manchester Center meets that standard, which is why we recommend that the City Council give it the green light at Thursday’s meeting. Fresno Bee editorial

Police response times down, Bakersfield council learns – Police Chief Greg Williamson, whose departmental budget is nearly $89 million, told the City Council switching to a new patrol system of larger zones last year is one of the reasons why response times are down. Bakersfield Californian article

 Modesto ends one lawsuit against cops, nears end in another – A jury has awarded a man $101,000 after he was shot by a Modesto police officer in 2010, and the city tentatively has agreed to pay $165,000 to settle another lawsuit that accused its officers of assault, battery and false arrest when they responded to a complaint of a loud party in 2009.  Modesto Bee article

 Journalist who sued Oakland cops over jaywalking ticket gets $9,500 — The city of Oakland has agreed to pay $9,500 to an independent journalist known for documenting police misconduct who filed a lawsuit accusing officers of wrongfully detaining him and writing him a jaywalking ticket to deter him from his work.  San Francisco Chronicle article


 Cal State looks for cost savings in academics – California State University officials are studying ways to measure how much is saved from streamlining course offerings and providing more online classes and advising, as well as other academic initiatives, officials said Wednesday.  LA Times article

Community colleges to get extra state funding – Community colleges could receive additional financial support next year, according to the state budget. Governor Jerry Brown called for an additional $619 million to be given to community colleges under his revised budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year, announced on Thursday. The extra money would bring total spending to $1.2 billion.  Hanford Sentinel article

 Budget proposal is mixed for foster students – In the revised May budget, Gov. Jerry Brown proposes funding a program to help foster youth who are attending community college. But he does not call for increasing funds to a service that helps K-12 students be successful in school, as foster youth advocates had hoped. EdSource article

 Unique stories among College of the Sequoias 2015 graduating class – She hasn’t yet graduated from high school, but on Thursday night, 17-year-old Marisa Williams will walk in College of the Sequoia’s commencement ceremony to receive her associate degree. Visalia Times-Delta article

 CSU trustees approve overhaul of Sacramento State campus – California State University trustees Wednesday approved a major plan to overhaul the Sacramento State campus over the next 20 years by building new academic and administrative facilities and expanding student amenities. Sacramento Bee article

 Group demands UC action against anti-Semitism on campuses – More than a dozen Jewish alumni and others citing an escalation of anti-Semitic acts across University of California campuses presented the regents with nearly 700 signatures Wednesday urging them to adopt the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism. San Francisco Chronicle article

 School lets out early after large fight at Modesto’s Davis High School – The school day ended early on Wednesday after a large fight broke out at Davis High School in Modesto. Modesto police oversaw a controlled release of students at about 1 p.m. Modesto Bee article

 Did school wait to call 911 when Delano boy collapsed? — A 13-year-old boy collapses during a physical education class at a school in Delano. The 911 call is inexplicably routed to Canada. The call is then routed back to the Delano Police Department via its public phone line. Only then does it end up where it needs to go — to the Kern County Fire Department’s 911 dispatch center. The boy does not survive. Bakersfield Californian article

 Merced Union superintendent hired in Fullerton — Merced Union High School District Superintendent Scott Scambray has been hired as the superintendent of a Fullerton school district, that district confirmed.  Merced Sun-Star article




Fresno still on bottom of national ranking of city parks — Fresno no longer ranks as the worst city on the Trust for Public Lands’ annual ranking of cities and their park systems. However, the 2015 ParkScore Index still puts Fresno at the bottom, this time in a tie with Charlotte, North Carolina. Fresno Bee article

 Visitors worry about impact of oil spill near Santa Barbara coast – While wildlife and state park officials don’t have an estimate on the environmental impact, some victims were emerging. LA Times article


Oil spill spreads near Santa Barbara; could happen in Bay Area – The San Francisco Bay Area, like Santa Barbara, is home to a vast network of oil pipelines that could easily rupture and cause the same kind of disastrous spill that is blackening the Southern California coast. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Oil spill cleanup an eerie sight – There wasn’t a surfer, swimmer or camper in sight Wednesday. Instead, there were emergency vehicles, industrial-sized black dumpsters, supply trucks, a makeshift command post, ranks of port-a-potties and wash stations, and crews of white-helmeted workers clad in white, head-to-toe protective gear.  LA Times article

 Pipeline operator in oil spoil has high rate of safety infractions — Plains Pipeline, the large Texas-based company responsible for the pipe that ruptured in Santa Barbara County, has accumulated 175 safety and maintenance infractions since 2006, according to federal records.  LA Times article

 South Valley dairy farmer halts harvest to save imperiled tricolored blackbird — A Tipton farmer is being praised as a role model for saving the lives of thousands of imperiled tricolored blackbirds by holding off on harvesting his fields until the baby birds can fly. Fresno Bee article


Health/Human Services

 California drops to 29th in U.S. senior health rankings – California’s seniors are drinking more, moving less and experiencing more mental health issues than in the past, according to the 2015 America’s Health Rankings Senior Report, released Wednesday. Sacramento Bee article

 Covered California considers capping patients’ drug costs – Today the board will vote on a proposal that would cap the monthly out-of-pocket costs for specialty drugs. Under most plans, people will only have to pay $150 or $250 per prescription, per month. KQED report

 Mosquitoes in Tulare County found with West Nile virus – Mosquitoes in Visalia, Dinuba and Orosi have tested positive for West Nile virus, health officials in Tulare County said Wednesday. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

 Cold weather is much deadlier than extreme heat, study says – Extreme heat waves like the one that killed more than 70,000 Europeans in 2003 may be the most visible examples of deadly weather, but cold days actually cause more deaths than hot ones, a new study says. LA Times article


Anthem Blue Cross in California plans to reinstate out-of-state coverage in 2016 – People on the California side of the Sierra say they have a long-standing practice of going across the Nevada state line for health care. Many told Capital Public Radio – as part of a series on health insurance problems in Northern California – that driving to Reno is often closer or more convenient than seeking care in California, especially in bad weather. Capital Public Radio report

 Severe mental illness found to drop in young, defying perceptions – The rate of severe mental illness among children and adolescents has dropped substantially in the past generation, researchers reported Wednesday, in an analysis that defies public perceptions of trends in youngsters’ mental health. New York Times article

 Calming dementia patients – without powerful drugs — Diane Schoenfeld is a weekly visitor at the Chaparral House nursing home in Berkeley. She comes every Friday to spend time with her aunt, Lillie Manger. KQED report

 Land Use/Housing

 Claudia Newcorn: The ‘McMansions’ are coming — In the old College area of Modesto, I’ve spotted an unsettling trend – the sprouting of what folks in the Bay Area call ‘McMansions.’”Newcorn column in Modesto Bee


 Bay Bridge tower rod is fractured, Caltrans says — One of the steel rods that anchors the Bay Bridge eastern span’s tower to its foundation fractured after stewing for more than a year in water, Caltrans officials said Wednesday.  San Francisco Chronicle article


New bus route from Fresno to Yosemite starts Saturday – A two-year pilot program for the Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS) service along Highway 41 begins Saturday. The new route means there is now a YARTS bus line that runs through each of the park’s gateway communities, including those along Highway 120 — both east and west — and Highway 140. Fresno Bee article

 Leap Transit shut down by state for operating illegally — The state has forced Leap Transit to halt operations for running its luxury bus line without a permit. San Francisco Chronicle article


Other areas

 Helmet camera captured Dean Potter’s deadly Yosemite cliff jump — A camera on the helmet of cliff jumper Dean Potter, who died in Yosemite National Park, shows that he may have tried to avoid his friend who slammed into a ridge and then hit the rocks himself a split second later, a park official said. It’s not clear what went wrong, but authorities are using the video captured by Potter’s GoPro and other images to reveal how he and Graham Hunt — both wearing wingsuits — died in the illegal stunt. AP article

 Lawsuit will explore Fresno’s bygone era of outlaw bikers — In the old days, Robert Williams used to drink and fight, talk back to cops, race around the Valley on a Harley chopper and cause all sorts of trouble. It was a badge of honor to be known as a tough guy in the 5 Diamonds outlaw biker gang, he says. Williams’ renegade image took a blow in 2014. He contends in a Fresno County Superior Court lawsuit that he was falsely accused of exposing himself to a 5-year-old girl at the Riverbend Mobile Home Park in Sanger so a manager could illegally evict him and his wife. Fresno Bee article

 Turlock fire chief retires for almond job – Tim Lohman is retiring from his position as Turlock Fire Department chief this summer to pursue a career in the almond industry, the fire department announced Wednesday. Modesto Bee article

 Robert H. Oliver: Reflections of an Honor Flight volunteer – The retired Fresno County Superior Court judge writes, “Yes, this was an Honor Flight — to honor our Valley veterans. But in a very real and moving way, for the sons, daughters, grandchildren and volunteers who were able to accompany these men and women of the greatest generation; for the children who stepped aside and applauded, the adults who stopped and commented, the honor and privilege to be among them was ours.” Oliver op-ed in Fresno Bee

 Museum at Edwards AFB looks to its future – outside the gate — Museum organizers have a plan to build a new museum outside the west gate of the Air Force base, on the Rosamond side. They also raised a million dollars, although they’ll need a total of $6.7 million before their plan can come to fruition.  Bakersfield Californian article

 Caltrain, local authorities work to stop suicide on tracks — Caltrain, the commuter rail service that runs between Santa Clara County and San Francisco, doesn’t lead the nation or even the state for suicides on its tracks, but the numbers are troubling enough. There have been 10 suicides already this year. The average for an entire year is typically 10. KQED report


 Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno 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; Taxpayer dollars are best used strategically with a goal of accomplishing multiple objectives. A proposal to anchor the Fresno Police Department’s Violent Crime Impact Team at Manchester Center meets that standard, which is why we recommend that the City Council give it the green light at Thursday’s meeting.

 Sacramento Bee – As an insider speaks out, chemical industry’s credibility sinks; With California’s leading association of physicians ending its opposition to the legislation, chances are greater that terminally ill Californians will gain the right to die on their own terms.


Stockton Record – Few people have attached the label “conservative” to Gov. Brown during his decades in elected office. But conservative tendencies are serving him — and the state’s residents — well in regard to this budget.




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.

 Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!


The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.


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