May 22, 2015


Political Briefs

Top stories 

UC regents endorse Brown’s funding plan, but look to lawmakers for more — The UC regents on Thursday embraced Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal, which would significantly boost funding for the 10-campus system, freeze tuition for in-state undergraduates for two years and require the university system to reform its pension plan and increase the number of transfer students it enrolls.  LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Legislature considering a stack of cop-accountability bills — Increasing national attention on issues of use of force, transparency and inequity in the criminal justice system hasn’t been lost on California state legislators, who are pushing dozens of bills aimed at enhancing law enforcement accountability. KQED report


State budget 

Arts funding boosted to $6.1 million in governor’s revised budget — The California Arts Council may be getting a modest bonus this fall, as well as some fiscal security. Governor Jerry Brown’s revised budget, released last week, provides the council with $6.1 million, a significant $5 million increase over what the governor had recommended in his January budget proposal. KQED report


Gov. Brown

Governor to business leaders: Downturn could be looming — The Bay Area economy may be thriving, and the state budget outlook is sunny, but Gov. Jerry Brown preached fiscal restraint to the region’s top business leaders Thursday, warning that the next economic downturn could be looming.  San Francisco Chronicle article 

Jerry Brown almost forgets to endorse San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee — Call it a drive-by endorsement. Gov. Jerry Brown had finished his speech Thursday on the state’s economic outlook to the Bay Area Council in San Francisco, then walked offstage to warm applause while the media packed away their equipment. Then Brown suddenly returned to the microphone. He had forgotten to endorse Mayor Ed Lee for re-election. San Francisco Chronicle article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

The duel of Democrats: California Politics Podcast — On this week’s podcast, we sift through the election returns and political lessons in Tuesday’s tense state Senate special election in the East Bay. We also take an early look at the Kamala Harris-Loretta Sanchez duel in the 2016 race for the U.S. Senate. California Politics Podcast in KQED

Disabled LA man’s desire to vote leads to probe of alleged state violations — Stephen Lopate was just a boy when he first mentioned he wanted to vote someday in a presidential election. It was 2008, and he told his mother he liked Hillary Clinton because she was a smart woman.  LA Times article


Other areas

Shawn Hubler: When lobbying becomes vigilantism — It isn’t clear why the California Chiropractic Association has gone so all-in with the hell-hath-no-fury vaccine resister moms. They may both like alternative health, but vaccines are hardly the chiropractors’ core business. The red-shirted moms, though, have made a career out of smearing the nationally watched bill to tighten opt-outs for school vaccinations, Senate Bill 277.  Hubler column in Sacramento Bee

California lawmakers block effort to make child death records secret – A state Senate budget committee on Thursday blocked an effort to gut key provisions of a groundbreaking 2008 law that requires child protection services to release case records after a child dies from abuse or neglect.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: Glazer’s win a big loss for unions – Presumably, the party and unions will try to unseat Glazer when he seeks a full term next year, counting on a much-higher voter turnout. But it won’t be easy, because Glazer actually fits the district quite well, not unlike the man he replaces, Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, who as a senator often chewed through the party leash. Walters column in Modesto Bee

Labor Democrats already on attack against Steve Glazer – Within minutes after it became clear that Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer — the Democrat best known for his call to outlaw BART strikes — had won a hotly contested East Bay State Senate seat, Democratic Party activists went right back on the attack against him on election night.  San Jose Mercury News article

Judge grants third delay in start of Calderon corruption trial – A federal judge has granted a third delay in the start of the corruption trial of former state Sen. Ronald Calderon, from Aug. 11 to March 1, 2016.  LA Times article

Bill Whalen: Housing costs should be back on state lawmakers’ agenda – The timing is right, given that the state is relatively awash in money and that housing plays in all corners of the Golden State. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

State fines Santa Ana mayor $13,000 for real estate deal – A state commission unanimously agreed to fine the mayor of Santa Ana $13,000 in connection with accusations that he profited from a real estate deal with an auto parts dealer and then voted to make the business owner the city’s exclusive contractor.  LA Times article

Hillary Clinton slips, still choice of California Democrats – California Democrats continue to support Hillary Clinton overwhelmingly for president, but she has slipped in recent months, according to a new Field Poll.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

NSA spying powers on brink of collapse — The National Security Agency’s power to collect Americans’ phone records is on the verge of at least temporarily expiring, as the House of Representatives left Thursday for a 10-day Memorial Day break without an agreement on the controversial issue with a sharply divided Senate. McClatchy Newspapers article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Mandatory usage cuts loom even for those with senior water rights – In the 1976-77 drought, the state ordered growers with some of the oldest water rights in California to stop pumping from many rivers and streams. Now, in a sign of the spreading pain of another punishing drought, regulators are preparing to do the same thing. LA Times article 

Fresno State plan for tougher enrollment requirements approved — Fresno State officials have received the go-ahead from the California State University System Chancellor Timothy White to change the university’s enrollment requirements starting in the 2016-17 school year.  Fresno Bee article; Fresno State news release


Jobs and the Economy

Stanislaus County officials approve funds to assess transit tax support — Leaders agreed Wednesday to spend $50,000 on focus groups and an opinion poll gauging enthusiasm for a transportation tax throughout Stanislaus County. If support is adequate, voters would be asked in November 2016 to increase sales tax a half-percent to support road, rail and other transit projects. A decision is expected by late summer, after poll results are analyzed. Modesto Bee article 

Mayor Swearengin to skeptics: A restored Fresno is coming — Mayor Ashley Swearengin on Thursday gave the City Council a half-hour overview of her “Restore Fresno” initiative. She might well have subtitled it “Enough With The Cynicism.” Fresno Bee article

‘We survived, and Stockton’s future looks bright’ – With bankruptcy over and the city’s economic fortunes seemingly rising, Mayor Anthony Silva said Thursday afternoon that Stockton has been roused from a “pretty bad dream” and that the reawakening brims with promise.  Stockton Record article 

Michael Fitzgerald: Speech shows state of the mayor – Mayor Anthony Silva’s State of the City speech on Thursday mixed good news for the city with a trip down the rabbit hole that is Mayor Anthony Silva. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Residents share enthusiasm for optimistic outlook – Stocktonians looking for an optimistic outlook on the trajectory of Stockton would have found a surplus of it Thursday at a warehouse at the Port of Stockton. Stockton Record article

Cuts to fire service worry Kern supervisors – 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. In Marshall’s best case scenario his department needs an additional $2.8 million from county coffers to maintain service levels. Bakersfield Californian article 

Report: High rents, stagnant wages make apartments unaffordable – The gap between stagnant wages and the increasing cost to rent an apartment is growing. In the Fresno metropolitan area this year, a renter has to earn $16.40 to rent a two-bedroom apartment at the fair market rate of about $853 a month, according to a national report released this week on housing costs. Last year, renters had to make $15.90 to cover the rent at $825. Fresno Bee article

Affordable housing remains short in Merced County, report says – To afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair-market rent in Merced County, renters need to earn $14.60 per hour, according to a report released Wednesday. Merced Sun-Star article

Sacramento home prices rise again – Median prices for all houses and condos sold in Sacramento County last month rose to $270,000, market researcher CoreLogic reported Thursday. That’s a 2 percent increase over March and an 8 percent increase from a year ago. Sacramento Bee article

Job fair offers hope to 2,500 job seekers – As she walked the aisles of Bakersfield’s biggest annual job fair Thursday morning, taking note of several “very promising” prospects, Kelli Gilliam grew increasingly confident her five-month unemployment streak would soon come to an end. At the same time, she was surprised at how many people around her were also looking for work. Bakersfield Californian article 

Fresno food truck scene growing: New trucks, new venues, new foods – Their wheels may roll but food trucks are now a fixture in Fresno’s food scene. Years after Dusty Buns and other trucks paved the way, a slew of new ones are hitting the streets. New venues that host food trucks on a regular basis are popping up and crowds continue to be drawn to the unique style of dining out. Fresno Bee article 

Planning Commission approves northwest Bakersfield retail center – The Bakersfield Planning Commission unanimously approved a controversial shopping center proposed for an upscale northwest neighborhood Thursday evening over the objections of residents who worried traffic, noise and lighting would disrupt their “tranquility.” Bakersfield Californian article 

Tulare County receiving $243,333 in Walmart settlement – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has agreed to pay $820,000 in response to consumer protection actions taken by prosecutors in Tulare and Yolo counties, along with lawyers for the city of San Diego. Visalia Times-Delta article

LA firms see peril in tying minimum wage increases to inflation – A little-debated provision of the Los Angeles minimum wage hike — future increases tied to inflation — may produce its most profound and controversial consequences over the long term. LA Times article

Joel Fox: How will business react to LA minimum wage boost? — The Los Angeles City Council tentatively voted to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. The business community opposed the move. How business will react is unclear but there was much discussion during the debate over the issue about lost jobs and eyeing more friendly business locations.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Supreme Court rejects suit over Sacramento arena — The California Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit this week challenging the Sacramento Kings arena project on environmental grounds.  Sacramento Bee article

$8.6-billion LA budget to fill 350,000 potholes, trim 57,000 trees – Los Angeles lawmakers unanimously voted Thursday for a nearly $8.6-billion budget plan that would boost funding for the fire department, tree trimming and street cleaning and stash more money in reserves. LA Times article

Union blasts Cal Fire chief’s leadership — For more than a year, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott managed to stay above a disturbing scandal that started with a murder and then damaged or ended the careers of 16 department employees. That changed this week with an angry members-only union letter obtained by The Sacramento Bee that contends Pimlott has known more than he’s publicly acknowledged about the scandal.  Sacramento Bee article 

Sacramento judge declines to dismiss $453 million fine against Barclays Bank — A Sacramento federal judge has rejected a bid by Barclays Bank PLC and four of its employees to escape $453 million in fines for allegedly manipulating electricity markets in California and other western states. Sacramento Bee article

Real estate frenzy in Mission Bay dashes dreams of biotech hub — As San Francisco’s real estate market continues to boom, the area that city officials had hoped would grow into one of the nation’s premiere biotech destinations is starting to look like any other neighborhood up for sale. San Francisco Chronicle article



Fresno City Council buys water, passes water-conservation law – The Fresno City Council on Thursday bought some much-needed water and brought some unexpected peace to a dust-control program.  Fresno Bee article 

Cal Water lays out terms of water use allotments – California Water Service Co. residential customers will get monthly water budgets starting with their June bills, and must pay a surcharge starting the next month for using more water than allotted, agency officials said at an informational meeting Thursday night. Bakersfield Californian article 

Drought: Fresno State to fallow 10 percent of its farmland — Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agriculture Sciences and Technology plans to cut its water use by at least 25 percent this year on its 1,000-acre farm. To reach their goal Farm Coordinator Mark Salwasser says the college plans to fallow just over 10 percent of their land.  KVPR report

Tulare adopts Stage 3 water conservation restrictions – Tulare residents will be able to water outdoors only twice a week starting in June, following the Board of Public Utilities action on Thursday. Visalia Times-Delta article

Lemoore to pursue water rate study – As the drought threatens to increase the cost to maintain city wells, the Lemoore City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to begin a study of the city’s water rates.  Hanford Sentinel article

Farmers hear more about water cuts – Hundreds of Delta farmers packed a rural meeting room Thursday to discuss a plan where they could pledge to take 25 percent less water from area waterways in exchange for assurances of no further limit on diversions this year. Stockton Record article

California faces a tough test to tame its unquenchable thirst for water – In the fourth year of the most severe drought in state history, Californians are finally starting to turn away from arcane rules and practices that have allowed them nearly unlimited use of water since the era of the Gold Rush.  Washington Post article 

Stanislaus groundwater lawsuit presses on despite activist’s possible suicide – This week’s death of a principal player in a high-stakes groundwater lawsuit against Stanislaus County will not affect the case, which continues to wind toward an October trial date.  Modesto Bee article

First Look: Columnist Lois Henry reports on water well transparency — Water well information in California is confidential, according to Californian columnist Lois Henry. In fact, new research in her latest article says that homeowners can’t even go down to the Kern County Environmental Health Department, a county-run department residents pay for, and see records of wells permitted around your house.  Bakersfield Californian article 

James McAndrews Jr.: Remembering when Modesto had high hopes of being a water resort On a unseasonably cool July Fourth morning, downtown Modesto was filled with 20,000 local residents who were watching a parade. The festivities featured the governor of California, who was in town to dedicate the new Tuolumne River Bridge and Lake Modesto, also on the Tuolumne River. Lake Modesto and Dennett Dam, construction of which helped create the lake, had an auspicious debut; it was envisioned as the beginning of a future water resort. McAndrews column in Modesto Bee
Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Fresno police to expand body camera program – The Fresno Police Department is moving forward with a plan to purchase 300 new body cameras for officers. The city council approved the $2.5 million purchase Thursday which also includes 400 TASER devices. The cameras are in addition to 100 purchased earlier this year after the city received an anonymous $500,000 donation.  KVPR report

Inmate who won order for sex reassignment surgery recommended for parole – A state prison board Thursday approved parole for an inmate who recently won a federal court order for the state to pay for gender reassignment surgery, according to the state corrections department. LA Times article

Teen dreams big in juvenile hall — He’ll spend his 17th birthday here. It’s not the first time he’s turned the calendar on a new year of life locked up. The 16-year-old is here at Fresno’s Juvenile Justice Campus for the seventh time. He was just 11 his first time around. But even his name, Chance, hints at a sense of aspiration, belief that change is just within reach.  Fresno Bee article

Attorney General recognizes Central Valley law enforcement – California Attorney General Kamala Harris made a stop in Clovis Thursday afternoon to discuss issues facing law enforcement, and to recognize officers throughout the Central Valley who’ve displayed great courage while on duty. Visalia Times-Delta article; Fresno Bee article

Tulare County sheriff’s conduct questioned — Weeks after the May 4 event, a Visalia civil rights law firm has filed a complaint with Tulare County, claiming county Sheriff Mike Boudreaux and his command staff essentially used their offices to support Tony Perkins and specific religious groups. Visalia Times-Delta article



University committee Oks tuition hikes for nonresidents — Undergraduates from outside California and graduate students preparing for careers outside academia will pay more to attend the University of California in the fall under a revised plan approved by members of the 10-campus system’s governing board on Thursday. AP article

UC admission logjam concerns Board of Regents — The University of California Board of Regents is concerned that the budget deal UC President Janet Napolitano hashed out with Gov. Jerry Brown doesn’t address the system’s plummeting in-state admission rates, leaving the crucial logjam for the Legislature to fix.  Contra Costa Times article

Assemblymember Jim Patterson: Victims of Heald closure deserve financial help – The Fresno Republican writes, “Forgiving student loans and providing transcripts will help private college students who were cut loose months away from new careers, but my guess is they’d rather have their degrees.” Patterson op-ed in Fresno Bee 

San Francisco archbishop softens tone on ‘evil’ in teachers’ handbook — San Francisco’s Catholic archbishop has agreed to tone down the morality clauses he introduced in a teachers’ handbook, eliminating references to same-sex marriage, homosexuality and contraception as “gravely evil.”  San Francisco Chronicle article

New California teaching credentials decline for 10th consecutive year – Fueling concerns about a teacher shortage that many educators have been worrying about for years, the number of credentials issued to new teachers trained in California has decreased for the 10th consecutive year, according to the latest figures from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.  EdSource article

UC Regents urged to finish gun industry divestment – Activists preparing to mark Saturday’s anniversary of last year’s murderous rampage in Isla Vista, in which six UC Santa Barbara students were killed and 13 were wounded, urged the UC Board of Regents on Thursday to finish divesting the system from any investments in the firearm industry. Political Blotter

Northern California child prodigy gets college degrees at age 11 — Last year, Tanishq Abraham graduated from high school. Nothing unusual — except that he was 10 years old. On Wednesday, the 11-year-old earned three associate degrees — in math, science and foreign language studies from American River College in Sacramento. He accomplished this by taking college courses while in high school.  LA Times article

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier introduces bill to protect students from concussions — Called the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussion Act, H. R. 2062 would create national concussion safety standards and require all schools that receive federal funding to create concussion management plans to ensure that students are given information about head injuries and the support needed to recover.  Contra Costa Times article



Grand jury probes PG&E’s relationship with state regulators A federal grand jury is probing potentially illegal ties between Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executives and regulators with the California Public Utilities Commission, The Chronicle has learned. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Oil spill cleanup in Santa Barbara County becomes expert-only job — Removing oil from the picturesque coastline here became a job for experts-only Thursday when volunteers who had descended on the beaches to help a day earlier were asked to leave.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; Sacramento Bee editorial

Fish might get help past dams along Tuolumne River — A meeting this week explored how the fish could get to the upper river through structures that the Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts might have to build. They could cost as much as $110 million, based on a recent review of such projects around the West, but the districts might have no choice. Fish passage is a possible condition of new federal licenses for generating hydropower on the Tuolumne. Modesto Bee article

Regulators deny request to idle California nuclear plant – Federal regulators Thursday turned away a request from environmental activists to idle California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant to determine if its reactors can withstand strong shaking from nearby earthquake faults.  AP article 

California backs gas plant to fill void from closed nuke — Utility regulators Thursday opened the way for development of a natural gas-fired power plant on the coast near San Diego, perhaps one of the last of its kind in California as the state pushes toward a green energy future. AP article

Steve Ponder: Geothermal is key to clean energy future – The executive director of the Geothermal Resources Council writes, “Gov. Jerry Brown is pursuing a goal for California to get at least 50 percent of its power from renewable energy sources by the year 2030. While the focus has been on solar and wind, geothermal is our oldest and most proven source of renewable energy, and the only source that can ensure a balanced and stable portfolio.” Ponder op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Thomas O’Rourke: Restore forests to slow climate change – The chairman of the Yurok Tribal Council writes, “The Yurok tribe is greatly concerned that if we don’t change course, the future of our environment will be in peril. The impact of deforestation on accelerating climate change is enormous, accounting for 12 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions.” O’Rourke op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Health/Human Services 

Covered California votes to cap patient costs for high-priced specialty drugs — Covered California board members voted Thursday to become the first state healthcare exchange in the nation to impose price caps on high-cost specialty drugs to treat conditions such as Hepatitis C and HIV. Sacramento Bee article 

Western Dental won’t take new Denti-Cal patients — Western Dental, the state’s largest provider of Denti-Cal services to low-income patients, said it will no longer accept new patients under the program at more than a dozen of its clinics starting June 1.  Sacramento Bee article
VA clinic funding approved by Senate committee – The long-sought VA facility in French Camp went back on track Thursday. Reps. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, and Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, announced today that the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2016 passed the Senate Appropriations Committee. Stockton Record article

Young burn patients benefit from $1 million gift – Officials at the Leon S. Peters Burn Center at Community Regional Medical Center showed off upgrades to the outpatient center Thursday made possible by $1 million from Dave and Anne Bush of Hanford.  Fresno Bee article

New neurosurgery keeps patients close to home — Kaweah Delta Health Care District’s new neurosurgery program is keeping patients with severe head injuries close to home. Visalia Times-Delta article


Other areas 

State chief justice says unpaid traffic fines should get day in court — Weighing in on a troubled system, California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye has called for an emergency rule to prevent courts from requiring drivers to pay traffic tickets before they can go to court to contest them. LA Times article

Kings officials consider need for bigger animal shelter — Among several conclusions in the 2015 Kings County Grand Jury’s report on animal control services, this one stood out like a sore thumb: The shelter just isn’t big enough. Kings County supervisors agreed with that finding in their official response issued Tuesday.  Hanford Sentinel article 

Fresno Chaffee Zoo gets two new elephants for African exhibit — The Fresno Chaffee Zoo opened its arms to a pair of new additions to the family — two African elephants that have traveled from Arkansas to Fresno for the new 13-acre African Adventure exhibit set to open in late October.  Fresno Bee article



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – 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; If employees and retirees have to make more important investment decisions on their own, it’s only fair that their employers actually give them a choice of reputable funds that offer a decent return.

Sacramento Bee – Solutions are elusive for stopping wrong-way drivers; Santa Barbara spill underscores the need to quit oil.