May 24, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

California water bill has three possible paths for passage — House Republicans this week are adding a controversial California water bill to an unrelated Senate energy package, opening a new front in a fight that’s already put Democrats on the defensive. The unexpected energy bill maneuver gives San Joaquin Valley lawmakers a third vehicle they might propel all the way to the White House. At the least, it builds up steam for the GOP drive to boost California water storage and divert more irrigation deliveries to Valley farms. McClatchy Newspapers article

Cathleen Decker: California’s seeing a surge in voter registration – but the impact on June election isn’t clear — California, the state with a well-earned reputation for disinterest in things political, has been overrun by a vast and historic burst of new voters. And those voters will storm the polling places, rescuing the state from its usual self-flagellation over poor turnout and determining the winner of the contested June 7 presidential primary. Or it hasn’t. And they won’t. Decker in LA Times

State budget

Sacramento Bee: California is way behind on child care and it’s time to ante up – Though state lawmakers still talk a great game when it comes to caring about families, child care funding lags prerecession levels by more than $800 million. And though the legislative women’s caucus has asked for that money to be put back, the response so far has been pathetic. Sacramento Bee editorial

Gov. Brown

Former foes Jerry Brown, Bill Clinton meet in Sacramento — Former President Bill Clinton and California Gov. Jerry Brown, who feuded bitterly in the 1992 presidential race and maintained a sometimes-frayed relationship in following years, met for about 90 minutes in Sacramento on Monday. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Valley politics

Stanislaus election officials witness registration tsunami – A strong wave of voter registration activity continued until Monday’s deadline before the June 7 primary. From time to time, the line stretched out the door of the Stanislaus County registrar of voters office on I Street in Modesto, while people registered online or signed cards at registration tables outside storefronts. Modesto Bee article

AD 32: Salas may have a primary opponent after all — Manuel Ramirez may be able to vote himself onto the November ballot for the 32nd Assembly. The 22-year-old Republican, who works as a gang violence prevention specialist at Ebony Counseling Center, turned in 57 signatures to the Kern County Elections Department just before closing Monday afternoon in the hopes of becoming a certified write-in candidate for the 32nd Assembly. Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare County supervisor candidate’s questionnaire: Angel Galvez — Angel Galvez, 38, administrative specialist. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Jerry Brown’s ‘nonviolent’ parole measure would apply to violent crimes – Gov. Jerry Brown’s ballot measure to overhaul criminal sentencing says those convicted of a “nonviolent felony offense” would be potentially eligible for parole. However, it doesn’t define the term, and that makes figuring out which felons could qualify for parole difficult – perhaps by design, to minimize adverse voter reaction. Sacramento Bee article
Gov. Jerry Brown endorses Kamala Harris’ U.S. Senate bid – Democrat Kamala Harris, a candidate for U.S. Senate, has bolstered her frontrunner status with endorsements from the California Democratic Party, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and labor and environmental heavyweights. On Monday, Harris, the state attorney general, snagged the support of Gov. Jerry Brown, who despite being one of the state’s best-known politicians, seldom wades into contested intraparty primaries. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Proposition 50: Should Legislature be able to suspend lawmakers without pay? — California’s November ballot will be jammed with statewide propositions, but there’s just one measure in the June primary. Prop 50, which stems from scandals that hit the state Senate, would allow the state Legislature to suspend lawmakers without pay. Capitol Weekly article
Other areas

Clinton campaign declines invitation to California debate – Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Monday declined an invitation from Fox News to participate in a debate with rival Bernie Sanders in California before that state’s June 7 primary. AP article

Latino vote in California targeted by Clinton, Sanders – Both campaigns have been drilling into voter data to find potential supporters in Hispanic neighborhoods, and lacing their speeches with touchstone issues for Hispanics, including education, immigration and wages. AP article

At Fresno stop, Bill Clinton asks California to repeat 1992 push — Former President Bill Clinton on Monday stood in front of a raucous, appreciative, standing-room-only crowd at Fresno State’s Satellite Student Union and immediately did a little reminiscing, looking back to 1992 and his own quest for the nation’s highest office. Fresno Bee articleKVPR reportFresno Bee article: Bill Clinton campaigns for Hillary at Fresno State: ‘It’s been an unusual election year’Visalia Times-Delta article

Bill Clinton in Stockton: Hillary’s ideas, experience will win out – With the California primary two weeks away and the general election more than five months in the future, former President Bill Clinton had some advice Monday afternoon for a Stockton audience gathered to hear him speak. Stockton Record article‘Clinton crowd sparser but spirited’ in Stockton Record

Donald Trump has done the unthinkable: Unite Silicon Valley – In a place normally preoccupied with drafting code and dazzling investors, suddenly everyone in Silicon Valley has an opinion about the presidential election. And it tends to be the same opinion. The innovation economy has a serious distaste for Donald TrumpLA Times article

Erika D. Smith: Bernie Sanders is no victim of a ‘rigged’ system – Real victims wouldn’t dare compare Clinton to Trump. They know that there’s a big difference between a candidate who wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico and ban all Muslims, and someone who wants to increase pay for women and, however pragmatically, reform the criminal justice system. Let’s not lose track of who the real victims are here. Even petty politics isn’t an excuse for that. Smith column in Sacramento Bee

Bernie Sanders gets help from California nurses’ union super PAC – A super PAC backed by unionized nurses, some of the most committed supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, reported Monday spending $268,000 to help Sanders in California ahead of the state’s June 7 primary. Sacramento Bee article

Supreme Court rules that prosecutors intentionally kept blacks off jury – The Supreme Court rebuked Georgia prosecutors and judges Monday for having excluded black citizens from the murder trial of a black defendant, and then denying his claims of racial bias even after stark new evidence was revealed. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Sacramento Bee: California bill seeks more tools to help mentally ill inmates – No doubt, AB 2262 needs work. But it’s a start. The notion of reducing crime, limiting recidivism and helping care for mentally ill people is worthy of legislators and a governor hoping to leave an impact for the good. Sacramento Bee editorial

California Senate rejects school credit for religious instruction – After a lengthy debate, the California Senate on Monday rejected a bill that would have allowed students unlimited time off from school and up to two elective credits toward graduation for private religious and moral instruction. Sacramento Bee article
California Senate votes to ban private talks at coastal board — Lingering frustration over potentially cozy relationships between California’s coastal protection agency and developers prompted the state Senate on Monday to advance legislation prohibiting board members from engaging in private, off-the-record conversations with the parties in permit decisions and other matters. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Free hot dogs! California bill would allow it — As the founder of, a website devoted to guarding against dogs overheating in cars, Lesniak was accustomed to explaining the law against endangering animals by leaving them in hot vehicles. She knew she could call the authorities. But a new bill would give her another option, allowing Californians to smash car windows and break imperiled animals out of vehicles that are too hot or cold without facing a civil lawsuit. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento City Council to discuss independent redistricting commission — Sacramento’s City Council will consider a draft ballot measure Tuesday that would take the power to draw political boundaries out of the hands of sitting council members. Sacramento Bee article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Medical-pot dispensaries could go to Stockton voters — Proponents of a measure that would allow for a maximum of four medical-marijuana dispensaries within Stockton’s limits submitted a petition to City Hall late Monday afternoon bearing thousands of signatures from supporters. Stockton Record article

Gap between high, low incomes in California twice as big as in 1980 – The gap between high-income Californians and those with low incomes is twice as large as it was in 1980, according to a report released by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC). PPIC news release

Jobs and the Economy

Report: Surge in area tourism boosting Valley economy – What do the Golden Gate Bridge, Disneyland, Hearst Castle and Fresno’s Chaffee Zoo have in common? According to a recent report, all are among California’s most popular tourist attractions. In fact, of the 29 Golden State counties covered in a new report from Visit California, Fresno County ranked fifth-highest in tourist spending, with visitors pumping a whopping $1.41 billion dollars into the local economy, an increase of 1.8 percent from 2014. The Business Journal article

Stockton council will discuss tax to fund libraries, recreation – Residents may get the chance in November to vote on a quarter-cent restricted sales tax measure intended to provide 16 years of funding for enhanced library, recreational and educational services to benefit Stockton’s youth. Stockton Record article

Golden 1 Center cost rises to $534.6 million as expensive features multiply – The cost of building Golden 1 Center has jumped an additional $16 million, bringing the current price tag to $534.6 million for the Sacramento Kings’ new downtown arena. Sacramento Bee article

Census Bureau turns to elementary school kids to help create a more accurate count — One of the methods the bureau is testing is greater outreach to schools, in hopes of helping students – who might eventually translate or vouch for census workers to their parents – understand the goals of the count. KPCC report

Profitability earns Visalia bank national ranking – Visalia-based Valley Commerce Bancorp, the parent company of Valley Business Bank, recently was recognized by American Banker magazine for its financial performance, earning a place among the publication’s Top 200 Community Banks for the third consecutive year. Fresno Bee article

Waste Management plans to buy eastern Kern sanitation operation – One of the country’s largest waste service companies is in the process of buying Tehachapi-based Benz Sanitation Inc. and its two sister companies, Tehachapi Recycling Inc. and Benz Propane Co. Inc. Bakersfield Californian article

Business roundup: Nurses plan to picket, almond group partners with national lab to study aquifer recharging — Registered nurses at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital plan to picket Wednesday to draw attention to what their labor union says are inadequate staffing and unsafe working conditions at the medical center. Also, The Almond Board of California on Monday announced a new partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on a $105,840 project examining how recharging aquifers below almond orchards may affect water quality and movementBakersfield Californian article

Berkeley voters could face dueling Robin Hood tax measures – Taxing the rich to give to the poor is talk one might expect from the People’s Republic of Berkeley. But soon the Robin Hood principle could be enshrined in law: Two competing measures likely on the city’s November ballot would tax landlords to fund affordable housing. East Bay Times article

Line forms for grand opening deals at Los Banos’ 99 Cents Only store – A new 99 Cents Only Store is set to open Wednesday, but San Jose resident Samuel Armenta was already waiting Monday, determined to be the first person in line to score an almost-free 40-inch television. Los Banos Enterprise article

LA billionaire becomes the second-largest shareholder of LA Times’ parent company — Los Angeles Times owner Tribune Publishing Co. has rejected a second buyout offer from rival newspaper publisher Gannett Co., and this time it’s brought in new financial muscle to fend off further overtures: L.A. billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong. LA Times article


House committee hearing to discuss Westlands settlement – On Tuesday a House of Representatives committee in Washington, D.C. will host a legislative hearing on a proposed settlement between the U.S. and Westlands Water District. The settlement stems from a decades-old lawsuit over the cleanup of water tainted by salt that has accumulated in the soil in the western Central Valley. The Business Journal article

Court blocks Oakdale Irrigation District fallowing program – A judge reversed course and decided that the Oakdale Irrigation District must address environmental concerns before implementing a new fallowing program. Modesto Bee article

Cal Water likely to ease water restrictions – California Water Service (Cal Water) announced Monday that it could ease water-use reduction requirements in the wake of a decision by the State Water Resources Control Board to allow water suppliers to set their own conservation targets based upon local water supply conditions. The Business Journal article

Berkeley lab joins groundwater recharge study – One of the nation’s top centers for science will look at how stormwater seeps into almond orchards in the Modesto area and beyond. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory announced Monday that it has joined a groundwater recharge study that already involves the Almond Board of California and other partners. Modesto Bee article

CDFA Secretary Ross announces permanent change in state milk pricing system — California Department of Food Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross announced late last week that she has ordered a permanent change to the dry whey scale of the state’s Class 4b milk pricing formula. The Business Journal article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Santa Clara County: More jail guards arrested on brutality charges — Two Santa Clara County jail guards were arrested Monday on suspicion of beating a shackled inmate, the first time since a mentally ill prisoner was fatally beaten last summer that a sweeping probe into a raft of excessive-force allegations has resulted in criminal charges. San Jose Mercury News article

BART pays $1.35 million, admits responsibility in excessive force case — BART has agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle an excessive force lawsuit brought after one of the department’s police officers slammed a woman face first into a jail floor. KQED report

Jail death from excess water drinking raises questions — Ruben Nunez’s stay in San Diego’s Central Jail this past August was supposed to be short, less than a week, for a court hearing to determine whether psychiatrists at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino could continue to involuntarily medicate him. Five days after he arrived at the jail, Nunez, 46, was dead from a psychiatric condition known as psychogenic water intoxication, or psychogenic polydipsia, that causes unrelenting thirst and can go hand-in-hand with serious mental illness. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Report details sex-crime claims involving teacher-turned-police officer — An investigator’s report details at least two suspected incidents in which a former Los Banos high school teacher now employed as a police officer is accused of having sexual contact with two teenage girls while other students were present. Merced Sun-Star article


CSU to begin lobbying for more state money as Gov. Brown’s budget falls short – Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised May budget falls about $101 million short of what the Cal State University wants next year, mostly because the governor’s office projects a 1 percent student enrollment demand, while the 23-campus system expects enrollment demand to grow by 3 percent. LA Daily News article

Local graduation rates rise, dropout rates decline — In 2015, Tulare County graduated 2.8 percent more high school seniors than the previous school year. Coming in at 85.4 percent, the county graduation rate is nearly 3 percentage points ahead of the state. More impressive, is the significant reduction of the Tulare County’s dropout rate. In 2015, a total of 709 students, or 10.2 percent, dropped out. The previous year, the number was considerably higher with a total of 906 students, or 12.8 percent, dropping out. Visalia Times-Delta article

Clovis High reaches out to black students after racist graffiti – Clovis High School administrators are asking black students whether they feel safe on campus after racial slurs were written on school property repeatedly last week. Fresno Bee article

Undocumented Ph.D. makes history at UC Merced – Yuriana Aguilar is injecting a special dye into the heart, so she can look at the electrical signaling going on in the membrane of each cell. She’s a researcher in a biomedical lab at UC Merced, the University of California’s newest campus. She’s also the first undocumented student to get her doctorate at UC Merced. KQED report

Students will earn ‘digital badges’ demonstrating new science skills — Students at the Del Lago Academy are not just going for a good grade in their biochemistry class. They’re also trying to earn “digital badges” they hope will land them internships in the region’s burgeoning biotech industry – and help them throughout their careers. EdSource article

How much do charter schools cost LA Unified? Fact-checking the teachers union’s estimate — If a study commissioned by Los Angeles’ teachers union is right — thatcharter schools cost the L.A. Unified School District more than $591 million annually — it’s a big deal. KPCC report


Joel Fox: Aliso Canyon shut down and keeping the lights on — California sits on the cutting edge of converting from traditional energy sources to new, but the pace of that transition must recognize the real world capacity to maintain adequate, cost-effective energy supply and economic activity. A test of keeping the lights on when dealing with environmental questions will play out in the follow up to the damaging gas leak at the Porter Ranch section of Los Angeles. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Utilities want to plug in more electric drivers — What region leads the nation in electric car sales? Here’s a hint, one of the city mayors drives a plug-in hybrid and Tesla Motors is located there. Well, that was kind of a big hint. Yes, the number one market for electric vehicle adoption is the San Francisco Bay Area (S.F. Mayor Ed Lee drives a Chevy Volt). Although there are more than 100 public charging stations in San Francisco, electric car drivers can’t always find a place to plug in. KQED report

Oil pipeline near Tracy spills thousands of gallons of crude – About 50 hazardous materials responders were on the scene of an oil pipeline rupture Monday along the Alameda County-San Joaquin County border near Tracy, cleaning up a spill reported to be as much as 21,000 gallons. San Francisco Chronicle article

Tulare County considering dead tree removal plan — There are likely millions of dead and dying trees in the county’s foothills that need to be cut down, and that number is growing as the Valley continues into its fifth year of drought, according to county officials. But for now, those officials are setting priorities as to which trees in the county’s areas of responsibility should be cut down first — specifically about 29,300 along 60 miles of roads in county’s northern and southern foothills. Visalia Times-Delta article

Jeff Jardine: The more group cleans, the less junk gleaned from Tuolumne River — Some folks obviously have a greater affinity than others for the Tuolumne River, Dry Creek and the parks along them. That explains why you never see the people who make the messes out there helping to clean them up. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Health/Human Services 

VA secretary compares long hospital wait times to lines at Disneyland – Critics said Monday that Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald had trivialized the long-standing problem of lengthy wait times for appointments at California’s veterans medical centers by comparing them to waiting in long lines at Disneyland. McClatchy Newspapers article

Single mom’s search for therapist foiled by insurance companies — More than 43 million Americans suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions, according to the most recent federal data. But more than half the people who felt like they needed help last year, never got it. Even people who had insurance complained of barriers to care. Some said they still couldn’t afford it; some were embarrassed to ask for help. Others just couldn’t get through the red tapeKQED report

Brain-dead toddler moves from Kaiser Roseville to undisclosed country — Israel Stinson, the brain-dead toddler hospitalized on a ventilator for over a month, was transferred out of Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Roseville on Saturday. He was moved to an undisclosed facility in another country, according to attorneys and an online posting by his mother, Jonee Fonseca. Sacramento Bee article

Lawsuits over baby powder raise questions about cancer risk — Thousands of women claim talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer, but research into a potential link has produced mixed results. New York Times article

In the fight against diabetes, research points to treating the brain – In research that may point the way to new treatments for Type 2 diabetes, obese and diabetic mice who got a single shot of a growth-promoting peptide directly into their brains experienced lasting remission from the metabolic disorder without any sustained changes to their diet or their weight. LA Times article

Tulare Regional Medical Center may add bond oversight committee — The Tulare Regional Medical Center appears to be changing its mind on establishing a public committee to oversee the $55 million general obligation bond it is asking residents of the Tulare Local Health Care District to approve. Visalia Times-Delta article

San Joaquin General Hospital celebrates Baby-Friendly designation — In 10 years, San Joaquin General Hospital completed a long and arduous journey that took the facility from being what many in the county considered the worst for newborns to being one of a few hundred with a national recognition. Stockton Record article

Land Use/Housing

Group tries to block Centennial Corridor demolitions — A lawsuit challenging Bakersfield’s Centennial Corridor project, the long-awaited, greatly debated connection between Highway 58 and the Westside Parkway, returns to court Tuesday, a week ahead of schedule. Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Decision expected on Modesto red light cameras – Two years after turning off is red light cameras, Modesto soon could decide whether it wants to turn them back on or get rid of them for good. Modesto Bee article

Carmen George: Woman who lost eye in crash at age 15 continues to inspire – Five years after a horrific Fresno crash took her eyesight, Shaela Warkentin was greeted by a familiar voice outside Valley Center for the Blind. The occupational therapist who helped her take her first steps after the accident was standing beside her once again. George in Fresno Bee

McFarland receives 2016 Playful City USA award — On Thursday, the city of McFarland was honored with a 2016 Playful City USA designation for the first time. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Playful City USA Program honors cities and towns across the country for making their cities more playable, says a news release. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Stop the body-cam blackout, for the sake of police.

Sacramento Bee – No doubt, AB 2262 needs work. But it’s a start. The notion of reducing crime, limiting recidivism and helping care for mentally ill people is worthy of legislators and a governor hoping to leave an impact for the good; California is way behind on child care and it’s time to ante up.

Stockton Record – Cheers on Stockton getting on the political map, Amgen Tour of California back in Lodi again and other issues.