May 21, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Gov. Brown turns in signatures on parole ballot measure — Gov. Jerry Brown, still awaiting word on the legality of his plan to revamp the state’s parole laws, nonetheless submitted petition signatures on Friday to earn the measure a spot on the Nov. 8 ballot. LA Times articleSacramento Bee articleAP article

Analyst rejects California governor’s deficit projection — California’s nonpartisan legislative analyst said Friday that he expects budget surpluses in each of the next four fiscal years, rejecting Gov. Jerry Brown’s projection of a budget deficit if voters don’t renew temporary tax increases on the rich. AP article

Gov. Brown 

Tim Ward: Gov. Brown respects inmates more than their victims – Tulare County’s district attorney writes, “The transformative experience I want this administration to understand is one where victims’ voices matter, one where victims and their families are treated with respect and compassion. Where the victims, not just the criminal who held a knife to their throats, is afforded value, justice and safety.” Ward op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Valley politics

Darius Assemi: Next Fresno mayor must address these critical needs – The Fresno builder, farmer and philanthropist writes, “This year, whether it be in the June 7 primary or the Nov. 8 general election, we will choose a new mayor who must collaborate with neighboring cities, mayors and agencies to make us a regional powerhouse. In Fresno, the major issues include public safety, high poverty, lack of prosperity and limited education opportunities.” Assemi op-ed in Fresno Bee

Perea against falsely claims Mims backing in slate mailer – For the second time in three days, a political mail piece touting Henry Perea for Fresno mayor includes the false claim of an endorsement by Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims. Fresno Bee article

Kings officials seek fix for Measure K snafu – If you are a Kings County registered voter, you may not have been aware that something was missing in your sample ballot for the June 7 presidential primary – an argument in favor of Measure K. Hanford Sentinel article

Modesto Bee: Registration soars in advance of primaries – Our guess is the high-visibility presidential primaries are driving registration. That’s a good thing. If people want to participate – for or against specific candidates – they must register. Modesto Bee editorial

Jim Reeves: Cox, Shuklian at candidate forum — Now, going into this forum, I had already decided that I was going to vote for Amy Shuklian. Nothing I heard Thursday would dissuade me from that intention. I will say I was more impressed with Phil Cox than I thought I would be, and I was a bit disappointed with Amy Shuklian. Reeves in Visalia Times-Delta

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Voter registration spike linked to Facebook — A hefty chunk of the new voter registrations for California’s June 7 presidential primary election occurred during a 48-hour period this week, stemming from a Facebook effort urging people to sign up, according to the state’s elections officer. Capitol Weekly article

Social justice organizations work to rally low-propensity voters — Social justice advocates plan on Saturday to fan out across Fresno voting precincts where voter participation is low, where they will encourage residents to vote in the June 7 primary election and show them the advantages of participating in the political process. Fresno Bee article

California Politics Podcast: And then there were two – This week: John Chiang takes the 2018 gubernatorial plunge. Plus, we examine the political path ahead for gun control in California and then dig deep into a week’s worth of Golden State political potpourri. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear Project. California Politics Podcast

Healthcare union submits signatures for ballot battle over hospital CEO salaries — One of California’s most vocal unions representing healthcare workers appears poised to make good on a long-standing threat: to ask voters to rein in the salaries of hospital executives. LA Times article

John Taylor: Hospital billing, exec comp: These fixes are bogus – The former Fresno Bee reporter/editor and owner/operator of The JT Communications Co. LLC writes, “Hospital CEO salaries are not a significant factor in health costs – the big money goes to total employee wages and benefits, and pharmaceuticals and new technologies. The California Hospital Association estimates that average total compensation for a hospital CEO is less than one-tenth of one percent of a hospital’s budget. Both the finance and compensation choke points are usually carefully targeted so as to affect nonprofit hospitals that are not already solidly in the hold of organized labor.” Taylor op-ed in Fresno Bee

Wealthy climate activist spends heavily in California race — Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyerreported Friday that he has made a $500,000 contribution to help an incumbent Democratic state senator who backed a 2015 proposal to cut petroleum use by half within 15 years in the state. Steyer disclosed the contribution to aid Sen. Jim Beall in his south San Francisco Bay Area primary race against Assemblywoman Nora Campos, a San Jose Democrat who has received support from oil companies. AP article

Other areas

Trump, Sanders, Clinton storm into California – Presidential candidates Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will crisscross California in coming days, with the state’s crucial primary election closing in. AP article

Bill Clinton to campaign for Hillary at Fresno State on Monday – Former President Bill Clinton will speak Monday at Satellite Student Union at Fresno State on behalf of his wife Hillary’s presidential campaign. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Bill Clinton to appear at Scottish Rite Masonic Center with Huerta – Former President Bill Clinton will speak Monday afternoon at the Scottish Rite Masonic Center in Stockton, officials for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign announced Friday. And union activist Dolores Huerta is scheduled to join him here, local organizers confirmed. Stockton Record article

Bill Clinton: I ‘felt bad’ for Kevin McCarthy — Bill Clinton wants House Majority Kevin McCarthy to know that he feels his pain. Campaigning for his wife in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Friday, the former president listed off the various ways in which the former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady is the most qualified candidate for the job, in part because she has been willing to work with everyone, taking implicit shots at Republicans and particularly presumptive nominee Donald Trump. Politico article

Valley conservatives gather for Liberty Summit — Valley conservatives will gather in Fresno Saturday for the 2016 Liberty Summit, headlined by national radio talk show host Mark Levine. Among the other speakers will be Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare; New York Times best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza; Matt Kibbe, a senior adviser to Concerned American Voters, a political action committee; Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims; and Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer. Fresno Bee article

News Stories

Top Stories

National Park Service loses early round in Yosemite’s trademarks fight — The National Park Service has lost an early round of legal maneuvering over Yosemite National Park’s trademarked names, as a multi-front fight narrows to the court venue preferred by the aggrieved former concessionaire.  McClatchy Newspapers article

California unemployment falls amid strong job growth — A week after Gov. Jerry Brown warned of a possible slowdown in California’s economy, state officials reported Friday that unemployment continued falling in April as job growth perked up. The unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, down a tenth of a point from the month before, the Employment Development Department said. It was the lowest statewide unemployment rate since June 2007. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Unemployment rates drop throughout Valley – Unemployment rates fell throughout the eight-county San Joaquin Valley region in April, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department. Here are April’s unemployment numbers, followed in parentheses by the March 2016 and April 2015 rates:

  • Fresno– 9.7 percent (10.6, 10.4)
  • Kern– 10.6 percent (11.6, 10.6)
  • Kings–10 percent (11.3, 10.8)
  • Madera– 9.7 percent (10.5, 10.9)
  • Merced– 11.2 percent (12.4, 11.9)
  • San Joaquin– 8.1 percent (8.8, 8.9)
  • Stanislaus – 9 percent (9.5, 9.9)
  • Tulare– 10.8 percent (12.4, 11.4)

Farm hiring helps boost employment in Fresno County — Typical spring farm hiring helped boost the number of jobs in Fresno County in April by 6,400 and lowered the unemployment rate to 9.7 percent, according to figures released Friday by the state Employment Development Department. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Kern’s jobless rate falls a full point to 10.6 in April – Kern’s jobless rate dropped a full percentage point in April as local farming created 10,000 new positions, bringing unemployment in the county to a seasonally unadjusted 10.6 percent, the same rate as one year before. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced sees 10 straight months of manufacturing job growth – Merced County’s unemployment rate fell slightly in April compared to last year, with manufacturing jobs leading the way for growth, labor market analysts reported Friday. The April jobless rate was 11.2 percent, improving from 11.9 one year ago, according to the Economic Development Department. Merced Sun-Star article

San Joaquin County seeks strong employment gains – San Joaquin County’s unemployment rate dropped sharply in April to 8.1 percent, from a revised 8.8 percent in March, due mostly to a seasonal surge in farm and construction jobs, as well as gains in trade, transportation and utilities. Stockton Record article

Stanislaus job rate improving, but still behind state – In Stanislaus County, the unemployment rate in April stood at 9 percent, down from a revised 9.5 percent in March and nearly a percentage point less than the April 2015 rate of 9.9. The biggest gains came in the areas of trade, transportation and utilities, and leisure and hospitality, numbers from the EDD showed. Modesto Bee article

Kern supervisors to consider raising fees, rates – There are a couple of pocketbook items on the agenda for Tuesday’s Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting that it might pay you to know about. Three Kern County ambulance services are asking the county to grant them an increase in the rates they charge for ground and, in one case, air services. And Kern County Environmental Health is asking for increases to the fees it charges businesses for its services. Bakersfield Californian article

Group tries to break away from Fresno County’s largest union, again – Will the fourth time be the charm for a breakaway group in Fresno County’s largest union to represent themselves? Voting got under way this week for Fresno County correctional officers and other bargaining units in their attempt to part ways with the Service Employees International UnionFresno Bee article

Managers, business leaders respond to new overtime rule – Inez Calderon looks forward to a new rule about overtime pay. Calderon, manager at Rally’s Hamburgers Inc. in Hanford, says the new rule will help her as a salaried employee. She often has to work more than 50 hours per week, but doesn’t get paid for those hours. She has worked as a manager for six years and “manages 20-25 people. Hanford Sentinel article

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento is fertile ground for fixing homelessness – Homelessness won’t be solved in megacities. Their problems are too big. Not so for Sacramento. With the right level of investment, the right strategy, the right dedication, the right people and the right collaboration, this city and county have a shot at succeeding where others fail. Seriously. Sacramento Bee editorial

How one veteran got housing after 25 years of homelessness – At one time, military veterans like George made up as much as half the homeless population in some American cities. But in recent years there’s been surprising progress and the number of vets living in shelters and on the streets has dropped by as much as 50 percent. Are there clues here for solving our broader homeless crisis? Maybe. But one thing is clear to me. The push to help vets is radically changing the lives of people like George Arthur. KQED report

Dick Hagerty: What’s next for Yosemite? Camp Chicken Curry, Badger Balm Ski Park, Cascade Clean Creek? – Our National Park Service (NPS) never fails to come up with new ways to demonstrate how incapable it is of properly running our 411 national parks within the system. Let’s start with the thoroughly inept legal department, which was totally asleep on the job leading the loss of control over many of the treasured names within our parks. Need more evidence? Now the NPS proposal to commercialize much of the “wilderness experience” that they have been tasked to protect. Hagerty column in Modesto Bee

Theme parks welcome more sponsors, but going overboard can turn guests off – Sponsorships at theme parks are on the rise partly because park attendance has been growing in the U.S., with Disney and Universal Studios all reporting record attendance in the past year. Theme parks are also popular with sponsors because they represent a good place to reach the growing number of young parents — consumers with a healthy disposable income. LA Times article

Merced adds new firefighters – Merced City Fire brought on five new members for its crew on Friday, a move city leaders hope will alleviate staffing issues. Merced Sun-Star article

Start-ups once showered with cash now have to work for it – Instead of venture capitalists begging to be allowed to invest, entrepreneurs are coming to them begging for cash. Investors are exerting their newfound power by asking more questions about a start-up’s prospects and taking more time to invest. Some are pushing for management changes or for financing terms that would help cushion any losses they might face. New York Times article

Business roundup: Hospital workers vote to unionize, local office market improves – Workers at three Bakersfield hospitals voted this week to join the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West labor union. Also, vacancies in Bakersfield’s overall office market became a bit more rare during the first three months of this year, even as some of the city’s best work spaces suffered a declining occupancy rate, according to a new report. Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento’s iconic Tower Theatre sold to endowment fund — Sacramento’s Tower Theatre, an art deco treasure and the city’s go-to spot for foreign and independent films, has been sold to an endowment fund that apparently plans to upgrade the property and keep it operating indefinitely as a movie house. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento landlord offers free rent to promising companies — In what is likely a regional first, one of the area’s largest property owners is offering free rent to promising small businesses as a way to stimulate local job growth. Sacramento Bee article

Sports Authority court filing sets store closings in motion — Sports Authority, the Colorado-based sporting goods chain, apparently failed to find an 11th-hour buyer for the bulk of its operations and is proceeding to close all of its more than 450 stores, about a dozen of those in the Sacramento region. Sacramento Bee article

Bay Area tech companies are reportedly hiring $25,000/hour ‘Millennial’ experts — Bay Area tech companies believe they have a Millennial communication problem, and they’re willing to go to great lengths to solve it.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Domestic workers speak out to make overtime requirement permanent — California already has a Domestic Worker Bill of Rights to ensure overtime pay, but that law has a sunset provision and will expire next year. Now, domestic workers organizations are campaigning for the approval of SB1015, which would make the Bill of Rights permanent. San Francisco Chronicle article


Recharge basin in Fresno County made to renew groundwater supplies — A 52-acre earthen pool in south Fresno County could become a key part of replenishing depleted groundwater supplies in the drought-stricken region. Unveiled Friday, the Laguna Irrigation District groundwater recharge project will direct flood water from the nearby Kings River and deposit approximately 2,600 acre-feet, or nearly 850 million gallons of water, a year to the aquifer. Fresno Bee article

Judge upholds major provisions of complex Delta management plan – A judge has upheld major provisions of a state plan that lays out a long-term strategy for managing the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, rejecting most complaints included in a cluster of long-standing lawsuits. Sacramento Bee article

John Lindt: Tulare signs Matheny agreement — Tulare City attorney Martin Koczanowicz says all papers have been signed now to settle the Matheny Tract lawsuits. Some 1,500 Matheny residents have been waiting five years after the city of Tulare agreed to supply them with clean drinking water. The 300 residents in the community just outside Tulare city limits is currently served by Pratt Mutual, whose well system has high levels of arsenic. Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta

Lake Mead drops to lowest level in history — The nation’s largest reservoir has broken a record, declining to the lowest level since it was filled in the 1930s. Lake Mead reached the all-time low Wednesday night, slipping below a previous record set in June 2015. USA Today article

A year after a violent and costly strike, Baja farm laborers see uneven gains — What started as a door-to-door campaign by poor indigenous people ended up disrupting produce markets across North America and forcing the Mexican government and powerful agribusinesses to the negotiating table. But the accord has played out unevenly across the 50-mile San Quintin Valley, with conditions often varying from field to field, grower to grower. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno police get a ‘free pass’ to shoot people, attorney says — A prominent civil rights attorney is again taking aim at the Fresno Police Department, accusing Chief Jerry Dyer of allowing his officers to shoot people without fear of punishment. Fresno Bee article

Homeless man sues after police shooting left him paralyzed – Adding to a long string of lawsuits being filed against local law enforcement, a 19-year-old man paralyzed from the waist down after being shot last year by a Bakersfield police officer who found him sleeping in his car is suing the officers involved and the City of Bakersfield. Bakersfield Californian article

Reports: Delano counselor attempted to set up others with underage girls — A Delano High School security guard asked Juan Brito, a student affairs specialist on campus who was arrested in connection with a sexual misconduct case this year, to set him up with a female student, court filings released this week show. Bakersfield Californian article

New San Francisco police chief inherits city divided by race – The new chief inherits the daunting task of turning around a troubled department in a city deeply divided by race — and doing it fast. AP article

San Francisco Acting Police Chief Toney Chaplin vows ‘top to bottom’ review – On his first full day as San Francisco’s Acting Police Chief, Toney Chaplinvowed a “top to bottom” review of the department and to push forward with use-of-force reforms started by his predecessor, Greg Suhr, who resigned a day earlier after an officer shot and killed a woman. San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleKQED report

Stopping cops from firing on cars a priority before woman’s death – Long before Thursday’s shooting, many police leaders and watchdogs in San Francisco and across the country have sought to stop cops from firing on vehicles and drivers except in very limited circumstances, such as when a driver is also using a gun. San Francisco Chronicle article

Once-sedate LA Police Commission meetings upended by protestors set on disrupting business as usual — The flare-up was the latest in a series of verbal clashes that have boiled over in recent months and turned the once-mundane meetings into raucous weekly spectacles that some commissioners say hurt the board’s ability to have meaningful public debate about how to improve the LAPD. LA Times article

Groups reach out to help heal trauma after south Stockton violence — After a streak of violent incidents in south Stockton recently, several community organizations have come together to create a solution and offer hope to the traumatized. Stockton Record article


State Center chancellor recommends candidate for Clovis college presidency — State Center Community College District Chancellor Paul Parnell has chosen a Southern California educator to be the next president of Clovis Community College. Lori A. Bennett, currently the vice president of student learning at Moorpark College, would assume the post in July if the district’s Board of Trustees approve her at its June 14 meeting. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Modesto Christian students await word on their Space Station project – Students and staff at Modesto Christian School have been on pins and needles for the return of a plant science experiment they sent to the International Space Station last month. Modesto Bee article

Practicing for the real thing — Local high school seniors participated in mock job interviews on Wednesday to prepare them for employment after high school. Hanford Sentinel article

Andrew Fiala: To the university, ignorance is no virtue – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “Education feeds off of curiosity. It questions everything and stimulates further inquiry. A good education arouses our mental energies. A great education leaves us with burning questions. Laziness, cowardice and self-interest occasionally get in the way. It is easy to rest comfortably in our misconceptions. No one is completely wise or perfectly moral. Dark spots of ignorance remain within each of us. But the solution is obvious: more enlightenment and less stupidity.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmon’s advice to Stockton kids: ‘You can be anything’ — Entrepreneur, activist and hip-hop producer Russell Simmons was led into a gymnasium at Fremont/Lopez Elementary School and was met with a flood of screams. Most of the third- through fifth-graders had never seen a celebrity in person before. Instead of standing directly on stage, Simmons, dressed in jeans, a sweatshirt and gray baseball cap, sat down to be eye level with the young minds of the future. Stockton Record article


Air quality lawsuit adds to oil refinery’s woes — Residents of Bakersfield breathe some of the most polluted air in the nation, thanks to a confluence of vehicle exhaust, industrial operations, and stagnant valley air. In an effort to combat pollution, air quality advocates are now targeting a potential source of emissions that,at the moment, is not even operating. KVPR report

Health/Human Services 

FDA finishes food labels for how we eat now – Major changes to nutrition labels on food packagesbecame final on Friday, with calorie counts now shown in large type and portion sizes that reflect how much Americans actually eat. New York Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Opioid prescriptions drop for first time in two decades – After years of relentless growth, the number of opioid prescriptions in the United States is finally falling, the first sustained drop since OxyContin hit the market in 1996. New York Times article

A first: Stem cell agency okays ‘great idea’ grants — The $3 billion California stem cell agency this week welcomed the first members of its “Great Ideas” club and gave them a total of nearly $4 million to pursue the scientific gleams in their eyes. Capitol Weekly article

Kings board of supervisors to discuss Kettleman City survey – The Kings County Board of Supervisors will consider authorizing the chairman to sign an agreement Tuesday for a community health survey in Kettleman City. Hanford Sentinel article

Vacaville family granted more time on life support for brain-dead toddler — Attorneys for Israel Stinson, the brain-dead toddler on life support at Kaiser Roseville hospital, got a weekend reprieve in their legal fight now before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Sacramento Bee article

Number of pregnant women with Zika in U.S. spikes with new counting method — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is changing the way they count Zika cases – a move that triples the reported number of pregnant women with possible infections from the virus. LA Times article


Alaska, Southwest fight for California with new flights – Both Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines this week announced they will add new routes from California airports. This is likely just the beginning of a battle for the hearts and wallets of California’s frequent flyers as Alaska absorbs Virgin America and takes on Southwest for dominance in the Golden State. San Francisco Chronicle article

Light rail Green Line may shut in Sacramento to save money — Sacramento Regional Transit opened its $44 million Green Line four years ago with celebratory fireworks and speeches hailing it as the first step toward bringing light-rail service to North Natomas and the Sacramento International Airport. Now, struggling with persistent money woes, RT officials have recommended closing the Green Line indefinitely as part of the agency’s third round of cuts in the last decade. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Merced County joins suit against gambling software provider – Merced County has joined a lawsuit filed by the state of California against a Canadian firm that supplies gambling software to so-called “sweepstakes cafes” that have been found to be illegal, authorities announced Friday. Merced Sun-Star article

Sacramento Superior Court judge admonished for conduct in cases — Sacramento Superior Court Judge Jaime Román has been admonished by state judicial commissioners who concluded Román’s conduct on the bench was “improper at a minimum,” for abusing his authority and violating due process rights in several cases he handled between 2010 and 2012. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno judge dismisses United Hmong Council’s lawsuit — A judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit that was at the center of a four-year battle between rival Hmong organizations in Fresno competing to host the annual Hmong International New Year celebration. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star  Registration soars in advance of primaries.

Modesto Bee – Registration soars in advance of primaries.

Sacramento Bee – Homelessness won’t be solved in megacities. Their problems are too big. Not so for Sacramento. With the right level of investment, the right strategy, the right dedication, the right people and the right collaboration, this city and county have a shot at succeeding where others fail. Seriously.