May 23, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Dan Walters: California housing shortage sets up battle over land-use control — This month, Brown proposed that “in-fill” housing projects meeting certain criteria, including density, closeness to transit and serving low- and moderate-income families, be exempted from local control. The Legislature’s budget analyst says the need is highest in coastal areas, and the exemption should be widened to include more kinds of housing and be tightened to prevent cities from circumventing the exemption. City officials, already angered by past incursions, are unlikely to accept a major new dilution of their land-use powers without a fight. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

George Skelton: Bullets are flying in gun battle between Democrats – A Wild West gunfight is bloodying the state Capitol — a sort of fast-draw face-off between leading Democrats. They’ve all agreed that California needs even stricter gun controls. Too many current restrictions have been shot full of loopholes. What they’re fighting over is who should enact the new laws: The Legislature and governor? Or the voters through a ballot initiative? Skelton column in LA Times

State budget

Lizzie Buchen: Reject more jail expansion and invest in prevention, re-entry – The co-coordinator of Californians United for a Responsible Budget writes, “California has a critical opportunity to significantly and sustainably shrink its jail system and reduce the number of people caged within. Model alternatives to incarceration are finding success across the state and nation, including pretrial release, diversion programs and highly effective community-based mental health and substance use treatment programs.” Buchen op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Tulare supervisor candidate’s profile: John Elliott — John Elliott, 65, own and publish a newspaper, The Kaweah Commonwealth, the weekly newspaper of Three Rivers for 21 years. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

More Latinos registering to vote — Today is the last day to register to vote. Among the groups seeing a rise in registration rates are Latinos. Among the groups helping register voters is El Concilio, a nonprofit group that has been around since 1968. It exists to improve the lives of Latinos in underserved communities in the Central Valley and specifically serves San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. Stockton Record article

California Senate primary likely to weed out Republicans — Losing U.S. Senate races in California is old hat for the GOP. The party has lost every one since 1988. But getting wiped out in the June primary to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer would be a new low for a party drifting toward irrelevance in the Golden State — one that even many Democratic leaders don’t want to see happen. San Jose Mercury News article

Sanchez no-show at UFW convention is missed opportunity for California’s U.S. Senate race – Loretta Sanchez, after campaign events in Fontana and Pico Rivera early Saturday, canceled her Saturday evening appearance, citing a “family matter.” Her absence gave Harris a greater chance to make inroads among Latinos and in the Central Valley,both critical bases for SanchezLA Times article
Other areas

Election about walls or bridges, Bill Clinton tells UFW convention – The likely choice in the November general election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton leaves voters with just two options, building bridges or building walls, her husband and former President Bill Clinton said Sunday in a speech that closed Bakersfield’s four-day United Farm Workers convention. Bakersfield Californian article

In Delano, it’s Bill Clinton for Hillary on trip through Central Valley – After delivering the closing address to the United Farm Workers 20th Constitutional Convention in Bakersfield, former President Bill Clinton headed 30 miles north to Delano on Sunday evening to tell more than 200 residents why his wife Hillary Clinton should be president. Bakersfield Californian article

Bill Clinton tours downtown Visalia — Former president of the Unites States, Bill Clinton, made a stop Sunday night in downtown Visalia. Clinton stopped in downtown on his way to Fresno., where he will speak Monday at a campaign rally atFresno State. Visalia Times-Delta article

Bill Clinton on stump for Hillary — In what is becoming a regular happening, Stockton will host a significant political event today, this time with former President Bill Clinton stopping by on behalf of his wife, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. Stockton Record article

Clinton, Sanders take different paths to California primary — California and its 548 convention delegates may be the biggest prize of the Democratic primary season, but the party’s two presidential hopefuls are taking very different routes to a potential June 7 victory. San Francisco Chronicle article

Cathleen Decker: Two white-haired politicians – Bill Clinton and Bernie Sanders – call a California truce – As both men coursed across Southern California over the weekend, something new was evident, something that seemed, perhaps temporarily, like detente. Gone were some of Sanders’ harshest condemnations of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, and Bill Clinton’s tenure in the White House. Gone too was Bill Clinton’s occasional belittling of the Vermont senator’s policy proposals. Decker in LA Times

Cathleen Decker: Bernie Sanders softens criticism of Hillary Clinton, but argues that he’d be the strongest Democratic nominee — Sen. Bernie Sanders is seeking a win in California’s June 7 presidential primary, and he’s tinkering with the path toward it. Decker in LA Times

Bernie Sanders faithful look for victories in likely defeat — Sanders trails Clinton by any meaningful measure in the Democratic Party’s nominating contest: In pledged delegates, superdelegates and in the popular vote. Even a Clinton loss in California is unlikely to prevent her nomination. Yet as a message bearer, Sanders appears to have left a mark on the probable nominee. Sacramento Bee article

John Diaz: California legislators’ ethical blind spot — California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon likes to point out that five of the nine cities in his Los Angeles County district have a former city council member in prison, as if that compels his commitment to good government. However, in modern politics, the legal shenanigans can be almost as corrosive to democracy as the criminal code’s definition of bribery. Diaz in San Francisco Chronicle

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

San Joaquin County infrastructure a boon and a worry – A major portion of San Joaquin County’s workforce, nearly 15 percent, helps design, build and operate key infrastructure assets, such as its highways, state water projects and distribution centers, a new report says. And while there are benefits — infrastructure-related jobs generally pay higher wages than jobs overall — there is a looming “workforce gap,” brought on by the graying of the baby boom generation. Stockton Record article

More California teens stuck it out, got diplomas in 2015 – As graduation gowns were being pulled from their wrappings this week, California unveiled the numbers receiving diplomas last year. For this region, where raising high school graduation rates has become a clarion call, the news is good. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto seeks unpaid taxes from motel — The Modesto City Council is expected to affirm Tuesday that the Budgetel Inns & Suites owes the city tens of thousands of dollars in delinquent taxes and penalties and demand payment within 72 hours. Modesto Bee article

Cities watch as Portland allows homeless to sleep on sidewalks, camp in public spaces – Launched by Hales in February as a six-month experiment, Portland’s “safe sleep policy” allows the homeless to bunk down on city sidewalks in groups of up to six, starting at 9 p.m. daily and packing up and leaving by 7 the next morning. LA Times article

Firefighter pensions get boost from extended ‘DROP’ time — Eleven firefighters received pension payments exceeding $500,000 last year, and all of them did so by taking part in a little-known loophole in one of San Diego’s most controversial employee benefit programs.  San Diego Union-Tribune article

Unions seek school pension ‘death benefit’ hike — Annual rates paid by employers to CalPERS and CalSTRS are going up, pension funding levels haven’t recovered from a big drop during the recession, and Gov. Brown’s pension reform put a lid on pension increases. But there is still pressure for one type of retirement benefit increase: a lump-sum payment from pension funds received by survivors for funeral expenses when members die, often in addition to monthly payments for the spouse and dependents. Calpensions article


Ask TBC: Will local water restrictions continue this year? — Californians used 24 percent less water cumulatively during the past 10 months, according to the State Water Resources Control Board, and while El Niño was a bit of a bust, the state had a better winter last year than it’s had since 2011. This means for now, Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory 25 percent statewide reduction in water use is no longer in effect — though officials warn it could return if next winter is a dry one. Instead, last week the state water board approved new plans based on yet another executive order from Brown. Bakersfield Californian article

Jose Gaspar: United Farm Workers going global — Fifty-four years after first organizing farm workers in the fields of Kern County for better wages and working conditions, the United Farm Workers union is going global. That was one of the major revelations at the UFW’s 20th Constitutional Convention, held over the last four days at the Rabobank Convention Center. Gaspar column in Bakersfield Californian

Don Curlee: Power product awaits harvest — Some California farm land fallowed by the recent drought is moving toward harvest of a powerful crop of electricity created by solar generation. A few growers have yet to decide whether to produce food or energy, or both. Curlee in Visalia Times-Delta

Criminal Justice/Prisons

San Francisco may keep officers from investigating each other in shootings – A U.S. Justice Department team dispatched to San Francisco after a fatal shooting in December is questioning whether the city force has too free a hand to police itself. District Attorney George Gascón, meanwhile, is seeking funding to create a special unit in his office that would take the lead in investigating officer-involved shootings, from start to finish. San Francisco Chronicle article

Untold damage: America’s overlooked gun violence — Most shootings with four deaths or injuries are invisible outside their communities.  And most of the lives they scar are black. New York Times article

Parlier High girls basketball coach jailed in student sex case — Parlier High School’s boys basketball coach Francisco Pena was arrested Saturday night on charges of having sex with a minor, the school district confirmed. He is the second Parlier High boys basketball coach since 2014 to face sex-crime charges. Fresno Bee article

Armed with data, Chicago police try to predict who may shoot or get shot — In this city’s urgent push to rein in gun and gang violence, the Police Department is keeping a list. Derived from a computer algorithm that assigns scores based on arrests, shootings, affiliations with gang members and other variables, the list aims to predict who is most likely soon to be shot or to shoot someone. Shaquon Thomas was on it. New York Times article


Fresno Bee: Valley schools get a ‘smiley face’ report card — No one knows better than the Valley’s schools that there is a long way to go, but it is important to take a moment to celebrate our progress before we put a twist on the popular posters: “Keep calm and graduate!” Fresno Bee editorial

Charter school advocates flood Sacramento education races with $300,000 — Charter school advocates have spent nearly $300,000 backing candidates for three seats on the board of the Sacramento County Office of Education, positions that once were considered sleepy political outposts. Sacramento Bee article

As kindergarten readiness bill evolves, some remain concerned about its effect on learning – It seemed a straightforward enough goal: define what it means for a child to be ready for kindergarten. But when a bill to establish a kindergarten readiness standard was introduced in the Legislature in February, several child development and early education experts objected, suggesting it could push preschools to become overly and inappropriately academic. EdSource article

Districts receiving student test results faster than last year, officials say — As millions of California students take tests aligned with the Common Core standards for the second year, many districts and schools are getting results back more quickly than they did the first time around. EdSource article

12-year-old California student ready to start university — A 12-year-old Sacramento student who already has three community college degrees and has been accepted to two University of California campuses says he plans on studying biomedical engineering and becoming a doctor and medical researcher by the time he turns 18. AP article

Folsom students confirmed to have bacterial meningitis — A student at Vista del Lago High School in Folsom was confirmed Saturday to have been infected with bacterial meningitis and is being treated at an undisclosed hospital, according to the Sacramento County Health and Human Services department. Sacramento Bee article


Southern California Gas Co. ordered to stop cleaning Porter Ranch-area homes – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health ordered Southern California Gas Co. late Sunday to stop cleaning the homes of Porter Ranch-area residents affected by the gas leak at the company’s Aliso Canyon facility, concluding that the utility’s contractor was not properly trained or equipped to carry out the cleanup. LA Times article

Whales feeding in record numbers off San Francisco coast — Record numbers of humpack and blue whales are feeding off the coast of San Francisco in a display of gluttony virtually unprecedented for this time of year, marine scientists fresh off a weeklong study near the Farallon Islands confirmed Sunday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Land Use/Housing

Riverbank’s huge growth plan up for vote — Riverbank’s grand growth vision, including doubling the city’s population in 20 years or so, could hinge on a hearing Wednesday before a growth-guiding panel. Modesto Bee article


Horse owners in San Fernando Valley feel trod on by bullet train – Among the myriad complaints about the mammoth $64-billion bullet train project — taxpayers angry over the cost, farmers fuming over land grabs and other complaints  — the furor from horse owners has come at bureaucrats out of left field. LA Times article

Sacramento patches … then re-patches city streets — Which city has the roughest roads locally? We think Sacramento, where crews are digging up streets to replace water pipes, then tossing down an asphalt patch that leaves streets bumpy as a rock river bottom. It could take years for the city to do a full resurfacing of those streets. The city budget for resurfacing streets is miniscule and the need is huge, “to put it lightly,” city engineer Ryan Moore said. Sacramento Bee articl

Other areas

Old Merced County Library empty for decades, no revival in sight — Over the years, a committee for the renovation project formed and met regularly, exploring grant funding and seeking private donations for upgrades. Some upgrades were made: Work was done to clear asbestos from the building, the roof was upgraded and the entire building was mothballed. But work eventually stalled. Merced Sun-Star article

Navy accepts ship named for Tulare native — After a couple of decades of development, construction and testing, the first of a next-generation class of warships named after Tulare native Adm. Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, Jr. was delivered Friday to the Navy. Visalia Times-Delta article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – No one knows better than the Valley’s schools that there is a long way to go, but it is important to take a moment to celebrate our progress before we put a twist on the popular posters: “Keep calm and graduate!”

Sacramento Bee – Only better supervisors will stop El Dorado County growth.