May 26, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 Tax proposals by unions, activists may loosen Brown’s grip on budget — When it comes to California’s roller-coaster finances, Gov. Jerry Brown has bent lawmakers and voters to his will, rejecting new spending programs, passing a temporary tax hike and strengthening the state’s rainy-day fund. But now a series of tax-related proposals, some backed by powerful interest groups or a rich benefactor, could loosen his tight grip on the budget. LA Times article

 California Assembly leaders single-handedly dictate spending — California Assembly leaders control a large annual operations budget that they regularly tap into to boost services of their choosing without a single hearing or vote. They defend the practice as a responsible way to plug funding gaps for worthy causes, but government watchdogs warn that such spending has little oversight and a high potential for abuse. AP article; AP: ‘A look at where California Assembly speakers spend money’

 State budget

 Dan Walters: Misdirection on California budget bills is disgraceful – While those and other issues are ironed out, the late stages of the budget cycle include a less visible and somewhat unseemly activity – the drafting of so-called budget trailer bills. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

 California gas tax: Is this the year Jerry Brown pushes it through? — Since taking office in 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown has helped to resolve some of California’s toughest fiscal challenges — mainly huge structural deficits and old, forgotten debts. But this year he appears ready to take on Mission Impossible — getting Democrats and Republicans to agree to increase the state’s gas tax to fix California’s crumbling roads and bridges. San Jose Mercury News article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Didn’t vote? State moving to make it easier to cast a ballot — Alex Padilla is looking beyond the state’s borders for programs that could dramatically change the way Californians vote. Among the ideas that California’s new secretary of state hopes will boost anemic turnout: automatically registering people through the Department of Motor Vehicles and mailing a ballot to every registered voter. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Other areas

Jim Doyle: Universal service would strengthen USA – The freelance writer and veterans advocate from Fresno writes, “After 13 years of war, with the burden borne by less than 1Ž2 of 1% of our fellow citizens, it is time for us as a nation to have serious discussion about the concept of compulsory national service.” Doyle op-ed in Fresno Bee

Four arrested in peaceful Oakland protests – Four people were arrested in Oakland on Sunday night after a second consecutive day of protests over alleged police brutality and a new policy to force protesters out of streets and onto sidewalks.  LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File
News Briefs

Top Stories

 Proposed Stockton budget still cautious but bigger — It’s been three months since Stockton exited bankruptcy, and as the city develops its spending plan moving forward, the overarching lesson from the nightmarish Chapter 9 saga is reflected in the caution of City Manager Kurt Wilson’s proposed budget. Stockton Record article

 California looks to Australia for drought advice –  California’s longest and sharpest drought on record has its increasingly desperate water stewards looking for solutions in Australia, the world’s driest inhabited continent. AP article

 Jobs and the Economy

 San Bernardino exit plan cuts some pension costs – A San Bernardino plan to exit bankruptcy follows the path of the Vallejo and Stockton exit plans, cutting bond debt and retiree health care but not pensions. Then it veers off in a new direction: contracting for fire, waste management and other services. Calpensions article

Stockton allocates $100,000 for summer youth jobs – Reducing crime isn’t always accomplished by putting more police officers on the streets. Providing alternatives, like jobs, to young people can make the biggest difference. Such was the philosophy this week behind the City Council’s vote to allocate $100,000 to a summer youth employment program that will be run by San Joaquin County WorkNet. Stockton Record article

 Castle Air Force base: The future – Castle has often been called 1,912 acres of opportunity. And that’s exactly what Mark Hendrickson, Merced County director of community and economic development, believes it is. Merced Sun-Star article

 States struggle to hire cybersecurity experts – State governments, which routinely handle tax records, Social Security numbers and other sensitive data, are struggling to hire cybersecurity experts with the skills to ward off data breaches and stymie hackers.  Sacramento Bee article

 PennySaver’s abrupt closure leaves advertisers, workers in lurch — The Brea company that became a staple in mailboxes everywhere closed late Friday after completing this week’s mailings. Hundreds of employees were let go without any explanation about why PennySaver was ceasing operations.  LA Times article


 In California, technology makes ‘droughtshaming’ easier than ever – California’s drought is turning neighbor against neighbor, as everyone seems to be on the lookout for water wasters.  NPR report

 In Central Coast cattle region, drought continues to shrink the herds – From the front porch of the ranch house where Daniel Sinton grew up, the toll of drought is all too plain to see. Grassland is turning into bare ground. Pine trees, some four stories tall, are dead or being eaten alive by fungal pathogens. And Sinton’s cattle herd has shrunk to one-fifth its usual size. LA Times article

 Jeff Jardine: New slogan in drought: Make California brown – Those lush, green lawns we’ve nurtured for years are going to go brown. Gov. Brown said so. Cities including Modesto are cracking down on water wasters or those watering on the wrong days, issuing warnings and fines. Modesto stands poised to scrape away acres and acres of grass at some parks. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

 Most San Diego fountains flow amid drought — San Diego’s drought restrictions mandate that ornamental fountains be turned off, but officials have enacted that rule for the city’s own fountains with a series of exclusions and exceptions that mean most water features can keep on flowing. San Diego Union-Tribune article

 Worms help with waste at dairy farm near Hilmar — The Fanelli Dairy has 750 cows that produce milk – and a far larger number of worms that turn out something else of value. The farm is taking part in a research project using worms to consume nitrogen in manure-tainted water that irrigates its feed crops. The goal, in part, is to reduce the risk of pollution. But the process also has a byproduct – an especially rich fertilizer that can be sold to home gardeners and other users. Merced Sun-Star article

 Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Lights, camera, police action – Over the past nine months, law enforcement officers have been met with increased scrutiny and surveillance by a public whose access to cameras is greater than ever before. Most people have one on them at all times in the form of a cellphone, and more and more are using such devices to take pictures and video of police interactions with themselves or others. Sacramento Bee article

 Auto theft spikes in Merced and statewide after AB 109, report says — Vehicle thefts in the city of Merced spiked significantly – 39 percent in 2012 – a year after realignment was implemented, the highest total number of reported car thefts in the city over the last seven years. Merced Sun-Star article; Stockton Record article

 Multiple shootings sweep Stockton — Nine people were shot in five separate and apparently unrelated attacks over a span of two hours on Monday night, police said. Stockton Record article


 Report urges more attention to English learners in LCAPs – In a new report, advocates for English learners sharply criticized school districts’ failure to explicitly commit money and adequately address students’ language needs last year in their initial Local Control and Accountability Plans. The report listed actions that districts should take and cited model programs that they could adopt to fulfill the LCAP’s goal of supporting underserved students.  EdSource article

 Sue Rich and Marian Kaanon: Invest in local kids this summer – Rich, assistant superintendent for the Stanislaus County Office of Education, and Kaanon, president/CEO of the Stanislaus Community Foundation, writes, “Stanislaus READS! is a long-term effort developed in partnership between the Stanislaus Community Foundation, the Stanislaus County Office of Education, the Children and Families Commission and the Stanislaus County Library. One of the focus areas for Stanislaus READS! is to educate families on the importance of summer learning and to ramp up access to free or low-cost summer enrichment programs.”  Rich/Kaanon op-ed in Modesto Bee

 Minarets High students suspended for grade changes — Two seniors have been suspended from Minarets High School just weeks before graduation for unlawfully hacking into teacher’s grade books and changing grades. The names of the students were not released because they are under 18 years old. Sierra Star article

 UC law students celebrate exemption from supplemental fee increases – Surprising many faculty, Brown and the UC regents have exempted the four law schools on UC campuses from the fee increases being imposed in the fall on about 50 other professional graduate school programs such as medicine, dentistry, business, public health and social work. LA Times article

 Charter school puts ex-felons on road to redemption — Tramble will graduate from Highlands Community Charter, one of the few charter schools in the state that serves adults. The tuition-free public school helps students older than 22 to earn their high school diploma, learn a vocation or improve their English language skills. Students spend half their day at the Del Paso Heights campus taking classes in entrepreneurship, truck driving, office skills and computer technology and programming. “These types of programs are particularly important in impoverished neighborhoods with high dropout rates,” said Ward Allen, the school’s coordinator of career and technical education.  Sacramento Bee article

 West Hills College marks record-breaking year at Coalinga, Lemoore campuses – West Hills College-Lemoore awarded a record number of degrees at its annual commencement ceremony. Over 838 degrees were awarded last Thursday to 642 students, meaning multiple degrees for multiple graduates. Fresno Bee article

 O.C. college district facing criticism over deal in Sauda Arabia — After years of competing with other college districts in Orange County for donor money, the Rancho Santiago Community College District thought it had struck upon a winning idea.  LA Times article


 How PG&E missed chance to avert San Bruno blast — Seven years before a natural-gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno killed eight people, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. engineers were alerted that a crucial piece of information about the pipe’s troubled history was missing, a newly uncovered document shows. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Sea mammals brought to SeaWorld from oil spill remain in guarded condition — Oiled sea mammals brought to SeaWorld San Diego from the Refugio State Beach oil spill “remain in guarded condition,” park officials said Monday.  LA Times article

 8th whale beaches as migration season concludes — A gray whale that washed up on the Sonoma Coast over the weekend was the eighth large marine mammal found dead on a Northern California beach in recent weeks. San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services

 Sacramento Bee: Confronting a cost of mental illness – Government too often avoids its responsibilities to severely mentally ill people. The latest example is the reaction to Assembly Bill 1006, which would expand treatment for criminals who are mentally ill, and sent to prison or jail. Sacramento Bee editorial

Daniel Weintraub: Mentally ill need to be treated with compassion, not as criminals – The editor of the California Health Report writes, “Elyn Saks has a story that millions of people hide from their friends, their co-workers and even their families. But she wants the world to know about it.” Weintraub op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Covered California’s prescription drug price cap may open door for thousands — A new decision by Covered California to adopt a policy that helps customers pay for high-cost specialty drugs sparked hope for an expanded state law that could assist thousands with HIV, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses, health advocates say.  LA Daily News article

 Phil Serna and Patrick Kennedy: Sacramento County is trying to shore up safety net – The Sacramento County supervisors write, “For the first time, we expect the county executive will recommend a budget that proposes new intervention programs, community partnerships and resources aimed at reducing deaths associated with well-documented leading causes. Come budget time, we’ll know the level of commitment to address Sacramento County’s most disheartening statistic – that African American children continue to die at twice the rate of others.”Serna/Kennedy op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Land Use/Housing

 Residents appeal permit approval for Modesto scrap metal recycler — Stanislaus County supervisors will decide the fate of a scrap metal recycling business in south Modesto. Rebecca Harrington, who has led neighborhood opposition to the business, said she appealed the May 7 county Planning Commission decision that approved a use permit for Central Valley Recycling, at 524 S. Ninth. Modesto Bee article


Curt Johansen: High-speed rail and infill: A great marriage for California – The president of the Council of Infill Builders writes, “High-speed rail is about providing California travelers a choice they do not have. It also offers Californians more choice about where and how they live by spurring new infill development in urban areas near high-speed rail stations and other locations connected by transit.” Johansen op-ed in in Sacramento Bee

 Caltrans alters project that will restore road to Yosemite — The California Department of Transportation announced a new strategy for phase one of the State Route 140 Ferguson Project. The estimated $133 million project is set to provide a direct route to enter Yosemite National Park and create a 750-foot covered structure on the road between Mariposa and El Portal on Highway 140, which was damaged in a 2006 rock slide. Merced Sun-Star article

Other areas

 Fresno Memorial Day service reminds veterans, families that ‘freedom isn’t free’ — More than 1,400 American flags covered the manicured gardens in southwest Fresno. The flags were on loan or donations by families of the 2,500 veterans interred at the cemetery. The custom started in 1963 with just 35 flags. Fresno Bee article

 Bakersfield remembers those who gave all – Chad Garcia will never forget Ethan Martin. And he will never forget Aug. 7, 2012. It was on that day, in the midst of Operation Enduring Freedom in Koragay, Afghanistan, that their U.S. Army squadron encountered small-arms fire. Martin, 22, was killed. Bakersfield Californian article

 Red, white, blue over Winton Cemetery — Comrades and family members of those who died in battle placed red and white flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers at Winton Cemetery on Monday – red for the blood that was shed and white for peace.  Merced Sun-Star article

Honoring fallen veterans in Kings County – The Marine Corps League, Kings County detachment #455, held its 22nd annual “Veteran’s Avenues of Flags” Monday morning at the Grangeville Cemetery. Hanford Sentinel article

 Banners wave in Riverbank thanks to sheriff’s Explorers – By dawn’s early light Monday morning, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Explorer Sgt. Brandon Williams and Explorer Nick Sutton met at the police station here to undertake what’s become a holiday tradition.  Merced Sun-Star article

 Honoring servicemembers – Across San Joaquin and Calaveras counties, just like thousands of places across America, people flocked to ceremonies Monday to honor the men and women who have served in armed forces. Stockton Record article

 Joe Altschule: Memorial Day is for remembrance – Memorial Day is one day set aside each year to honor those who gave what Lincoln called, “the last full measure of devotion” so that the rest of us might continue to have a safe and secure homeland. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

 Tom Fife: To some, Memorial Day an excuse to party — Did you know that the long holiday weekend that just pasted was to honor people who died serving in ourcountry’s armed forcesFife column in Visalia Times-Delta

 Bakersfield-area funeral homes cited for disclosure violations — Seven of 11 Bakersfield-area funeral homes visited last year by undercover agents violated price-disclosure rules, by far the highest rate of noncompliance found in a six-state federal investigation.  Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California’s antiquated alcohol law needs revision.

Sacramento Bee – Government too often avoids its responsibilities to severely mentally ill people. The latest example is the reaction to Assembly Bill 1006, which would expand treatment for criminals who are mentally ill, and sent to prison or jail.


Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

 Next 10: Federal budget challengeThe Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge

 Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

 LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.

 Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

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

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

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