May 27, 2015


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Political Briefs

 Top stories

 Brown, lawmakers divided on budget estimates — Two weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown released his revised budget proposal, Democratic lawmakers are pushing their own spending plans that include hundreds of millions of dollars more for child care, healthcare and the state’s rainy-day fund. LA Times article

 Drought angst shrivels Californians’ views of state — Despite an improving economy and burgeoning budget surplus, California’s worsening drought is stirring fresh anxieties about the direction of the Golden State. A new poll shows Californians’ perceptions of the state have soured in recent months as Gov. Jerry Brown and others imposed new conservation mandates.Sacramento Bee article

 State budget

 Dan Walters: Revenue estimates on state budgets are a crapshoot — The variations in revenue projections are getting wider, not only between those of the agencies, but from one cycle to the next. And they make state budgeting less an exercise in priority-setting and more a crapshoot whose outcome is determined by esoteric factors completely out of politicians’ control. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

 Jerry Brown’s proposal to expand health tax plan sputtering — Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to make more managed care organizations pay a state tax – one likely to be passed on to consumers – is meeting resistance at the Capitol. Capitol Alert

 Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 California Assembly passes bill raising initiative fee — It could get more expensive to file a ballot initiative in California. Legislation hiking the filing fee from $200 to $8,000 passed the Assembly on a 46-24 vote Tuesday. In the background lurked a near-universally condemned proposed ballot initiative that seeks to authorize executing homosexuals.  Capitol Alert; LA Times article


 California Republicans soften tone on immigration – Immigration debates in the California Legislature aren’t what they used to be. Republican anti-immigrant rhetoric is largely gone. Instead, GOP lawmakers are softening their criticism. Often, they aren’t even voting no. Capital Public Radio report

 Michael Hiltzik: A new way to exploit the California drought: Immigrant bashing – Last year, a study of water rights by scholars at UC Davis and Merced warned that the long-term decline in California’s water supply portended a new era of “social conflict.”  Anti-immigrant activists seem to have taken that as a challenge. They’re meeting it with flying colors. Hiltzik column in LA Times

Other areas

California Assembly leader to stop unilateral spending – California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins plans to stop steering millions of dollars toward favored causes using her chamber’s operating fund. AP article

 Could U.S. Supreme Court case shrink California’s congressional clout — The U.S. Supreme Court’s agreement Tuesday to hear a case that could potentially overhaul how political districts are drawn has sparked waves of speculation among political and legal wonks — including questions as to how a ruling could affect California’s clout in Congress. LA Times article

 Redistricting veteran offers his take on Supreme Court move – California political analyst Tony Quinn has been following redistricting matters long enough to remember when the Earl Warren court handed down its “one person, one vote” ruling half a century ago. LA Times article

 California gambling interests face off over future of Internet poker – Is this the year California finally legalizes Internet poker? It’s a long-shot bet. The issue has been circling the Capitol for more than seven years, and disagreement among the state’s major gambling interests – Indian tribes, card rooms, horse tracks – over who should be permitted to participate has prevented any deal so far. Capitol Alert

 California bill would prohibit defendants from questioning victims – A state bill aimed at protecting victims in the courtroom may be in conflict with the U.S. Constitution, according to experts. Under the Sixth Amendment, criminal defendants have the right to serve as their own attorneys in court. But should they also be allowed to question their accuser on the witness stand?KPBS report

 California ‘men’s and boys of color’ committee to focus on police, schools – Touting the enlarged size of a committee devoted to California’s minority males, lawmakers on Tuesday stressed priorities that include nondiscriminatory policing and sending more money to schools with high minority populations.  Capitol Alert

 California Assembly passes bill targeting ‘crisis pregnancy centers’ – California pregnancy centers that often seek to steer women away from abortion would need to provide information about reproductive services available elsewhere, including abortion, and disclose when they lack medical licenses under a bill the state Assembly passed on Tuesday.  Sacramento Bee article

 U.S. Joel Fox: The Medi-Cal mess — California’s health program for the poor and disabled, Medi-Cal, has presented state lawmakers with quite a perplexing paradox. More and more people fall under the protection of Medi-Cal and need a doctor but fewer and fewer doctors are accepting the low fees associated with the program. Fox in Fox & Hounds

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

 Mark Grossi: Fresno’s million-dollar water deal: What a bargain in this drought — Fresno bought nearly 3,000 acre-feet of Millerton Lake water last week for $1 million — a deal so uncommon this year that I had to read reporter George Hostetter’s story twice. On the open water market, the Millerton water might be worth five times that price. So what happened here? Turns out, the Fresno deal was part of bigger behind-the-scenes meetings that brought together federal leaders, east- and west-side agriculture as well as Kern County interests. Fresno Bee article

 From police to pipes: Fresno leveraging ‘big data’ to improve city functions – There is a growing movement in Fresno to leverage the power of big data to improve a wide variety of city services from water conservation, to street lights, to police and more. Powerful computers are now able to crunch billions of data points to provide a clearer picture of what works and what doesn’t. The city is increasingly seeing data and information as a two-way street. KVPR report

 Jobs and the Economy

 Commercial real estate in recovery – The three commercial real estate sectors in northern San Joaquin Valley are in different stages of recovery, according to a recent analysis by NAI Benchmark. Industrial building is in high demand, with rental rates running above levels seen before the Great Recession, said Ryan Swehla, a principal of NAI Benchmark. There is less demand for retail and office space, but both sectors show falling vacancy rates and rising rental rates in the San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced county market covered by the report. Stockton Record article

 Supporters plead for shuttered library – The fate of the shuttered Fair Oaks Library is now in the hands of the City Council. After listening Tuesday night to heartfelt pleas from numerous community members, including from children bearing posters asking the city to reopen the shuttered eastside hub, Stockton council members now have the ultimate say. Stockton Record article;Colleen Foster open letter in Stockton Record

 LA labor leaders seek minimum wage exemption for firms with union workers – Labor leaders, who were among the strongest supporters of the citywide minimum wage increase approved last week by the Los Angeles City Council, are advocating last-minute changes to the law that could create an exemption for companies with unionized workforces. LA Times article

 Bucking the trend, Irvine may repeal its living wage law – A week after Los Angeles became the largest city in the nation to adopt a major minimum-wage increase, suburban Irvine in neighboring Orange County is considering going in the opposite direction. LA Times article

 ‘Staggering’ overtime pay found in LA Department of Transportation unit — Workers in a division of Los Angeles’ Department of Transportation collected unusually high amounts of overtime pay, costing the city $3.3 million in a single year and raising concerns some of the extra pay may have been claimed improperly, according to a new audit. LA Times article

 Plan to improve San Joaquin County libraries presented – Newly appointed City Librarian Suzy Daveluy has a strategic plan for increasing usage of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library System that includes expanded access and a re-examination of the library’s catalog. Stockton Record article

 Homeless in Santa Clara County:  Report puts cost at $520 million a year — The human toll of homelessness can be seen daily throughout Santa Clara County with people living on the streets. But now, for the first time, a staggering fiscal cost has been calculated: $520 million annually.  San Jose Mercury News article

 Grocery workers job protection bill passes California Assembly — Grocery store workers could hold onto their jobs after their store changes ownership under labor-backed legislation that passed the California Assembly on Tuesday. Capitol Alert

 Stine steps down at Valley Republic over potential conflict — A founding director of Bakersfield-based Valley Republic Bank has resigned because his connection to another bank operating locally presented a potential conflict of interest. Bakersfield Californian article

 Sacramento expected to ease restrictions on food trucks – After nearly four years of discussion and debate, the Sacramento City Council was expected Tuesday to lift restrictions on food trucks in an attempt to encourage more mobile meal vendors to operate within city limits.  Sacramento Bee article

 San Diego lays off 1/3rd of workforce after sale — San Diego’s dominant newspaper on Tuesday announced the layoffs of nearly a third of its 600 employees after it was acquired last week for $85 million by Los Angeles Times owner Tribune Publishing.  AP article; LA Times article; San Diego Union-Tribune article

 Sacramento Bee: Supreme Court should protect consumers, first and foremost – The California Supreme Court has an opportunity to establish clear lines and provide important consumer protections in a decision that will become ever more relevant as tribes expand commercial ventures. Sacramento Bee editorial

 Michael Dimock and Shawn Harrison: Put more fresh food on the table for poor families – Harrison, founder and director of Soil Born Farms, and Dimock, president of Roots of Change, write, “Assembly Bill 1321, which is scheduled to be heard Thursday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, would help change that by giving an incentive to CalFresh recipients to buy fresh produce: If they buy $10 worth of California-grown fruits and vegetables, they could get an additional $10 that day for more produce.” Dimock/Harrison op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Air Force certifies SpaceX to compete for military launches – After a two-year effort, entrepreneur Elon Musk and his upstart company SpaceX won approval from the Air Force on Tuesday to launch the military’s most critical satellites.  LA Times article

 Airline food company ordered to pay living wages to employees – An airline catering company with operations at Los Angeles International Airport has failed to pay “living wages” to 271 employees, dating back to 2010, the city of Los Angeles said in a letter that calls for retroactive restitution. LA Times article


 Modesto exempts Thurman Field, Grogan Park from drought restrictions – While Modesto is requiring residents to limit their outdoor watering to two days a week, the City Council Tuesday night waived the city’s drought watering restrictions for two high-profile city facilities: John Thurman Field and the Mary Grogan Community Park soccer complex.  Modesto Bee article

 Modesto Irrigation District not jumping to conclusions in suspected water thefts this year – The Modesto Irrigation District’s process of investigating water theft is much more private this year. Last year, the district publicly shamed a few suspected water bandits and slapped them with stiff fines, only to later reverse most of the penalties after determining that things weren’t quite as they seemed. Modesto Bee article

 Lois Henry: No one ever said groundwater legislation would be easy – So, I kind of questioned myself out of a story, but I’m going to tell it to you anyway. I noticed the Kern Groundwater Authority was proposing to double its budget from last year, which got my attention. The main cost increase was a proposal to hire a mediation firm called New Current, Water and Land for $192,000 for six months of work to try and get all our wonderfully warring water districts on the same page as far as a groundwater plan before the state comes in and does it for us.Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

 Southland water district Oks $350 million more for lawn-replacement rebates — The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday voted to increase funding for its turf-removal program, as more and more residents and businesses swap water-guzzling lawns for more drought-tolerant landscaping. LA Times article; AP article

 LA County supervisors delay vote on water cuts after complaints – Los Angeles County supervisors agreed Tuesday to postpone a vote on proposed water use restrictions for customers served by the county waterworks districts after residents expressed alarm at the reductions and questioned the method used to calculate target levels. LA Times article

 Johnson: Ditch the blame game in California drought — So what’s a Californian to do? Grist journalist Nathanael Johnson recently asked that question in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, saying it’s time for the state to move beyond the blame game in California’s drought. He joined us on Valley Edition to talk about why he thins both urban and rural water users all need to accept some responsibility and work to find solutions that will make the state a better place. KVPR report

 California drought makes it rain big bucks for local businesses – When people call up Leigh Jerrard, founder of Greywater Corps, they’re greeted with a recorded message: “Note that we are overwhelmed with inquiries right now, so it may be a while before we get back to you. But have faith.” Jerrard’s company helps homeowners with the complicated process of installing their own Greywater systems. The system takes drainage from showers or washing machines and uses it to water lawns.  NPR report

 Amid Granite Bay’s regal landscapes, residents look to conserve water – Amid a drought emergency, California officials are ordering steep cuts in water use for the water district that supplies Granite Bay and other upscale communities that arc around the western edge of shrinking Folsom Lake. Residents, in turn, are being asked to conserve water – and to accept a starker, drier look for their picturesque properties. Sacramento Bee article

 A little potty humor could come in handy in drought – With California in its fourth year of drought, AT&T has come up with a list of apps to help residents tackle water use. Some of the apps appear seriously helpful, with some not-so-obvious suggestions for reducing water consumption. But one of them, you’ve got to see – make that hear – to believe. Modesto Bee article

 Coming soon: A home delivery CSA-style box full of ugly food – Central California fruits and vegetables are found in grocery stores across the nation. But what happens to produce that doesn’t make it to the market? In this story Valley Public Radio’s Ezra David Romero reports on how the ugly food that doesn’t meet beauty standards soon could be delivered to your doorstep.KVPR report

 Sacramento Bee: Obama’s bee report is a bit of a buzzkill — Billions of dollars and a third of the nation’s food supply are at stake. So it’s only right that the Obama administration is taking up the plight of the honeybee, a linchpin of our food system. The only thing wrong is that the plan doesn’t go far enough.  Sacramento Bee editorial

 Brian Leahy: Schoolkids must be protected from pesticides – The director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation writes, “Farmers have the right to use pesticides safely to grow the food that California and much of the country relies on. But Californians want to know what chemicals are being applied in their neighborhoods, and what is used to grow their food. This regulation will achieve that balance when schools are next to farms.” Leahy op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Farmworkers’ family sues Fresno police over his shooting death — The family of a migrant farmworker shot and killed by Fresno police last year served a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city and police department Tuesday afternoon. Fresno Bee article


 Nan Austin: In Modesto area, surging education funding brings cry for raises, calls for caution – The thundering hooves of a bull market and rising real estate values have California revenues rising as fast as a crop of summer corn this year. And 90 percent of the unexpected extra would go to schools under Brown’s plan, compared with 40 percent in a normal year. In the Central Valley, the projection merits balloons and champagne in most districts for two reasons. Austin in Modesto Bee

 Kings schools may get funding increase – Kings County schools will likely get more state funding for the next school year. Governor Jerry Brown recently unveiled his revised budget for the 2015-16 fiscal year. The budget provides $6.1 billion more to K-12 schools, bringing total funding up to $83 billion for the year. The budget is expected to be passed in June. Hanford Sentinel article

 Hundreds graduate from high school career program – Two local students honored at a career and technical education graduation ceremony Tuesday exchanged tears and smiles alike when a teacher presented them with outstanding student awards. Bakersfield Californian article

 Career guidance helps students figure out their paths – A growing state and national focus on preparing students for college and careers is fueling a refocus on career preparation and shining a spotlight on efforts to foster early career awareness among students. EdSource article

 Students celebrate harvest at community farm — Several Washington Elementary School students who participated in an after-school gardening program have flourished significantly in the past six months thanks to their involvement at the Boggs Tract Community Farm, according to farm and school officials. Stockton Record article


 PG&E president to retire after tough run at utility – The executive who oversaw PG&E’s utility operation during the deadly San Bruno pipeline blast and the company’s turbulent aftermath will retire at the end of the year, company officials announced Tuesday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Deadline approaching for comments environmental proposals for Merced County dam – Friday is the deadline to submit public comments on federal proposals that many Merced County farmers fear could further reduce irrigation water for the next half-century. Merced Sun-Star article

Owner to check ruptured pipeline’s integrity at four other spots — The owner of the pipeline that ruptured and spilled more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil along the Santa Barbara County coast said Monday that it is going to investigate the integrity of the pipe at four additional locations after receiving preliminary inspection results. LA Times article; AP article

 Man ordered to pay $6.5 million for Sequoia National Forest fires – A Ferris man was sentenced Tuesday to more than six years in federal prison and ordered to pay about $6.5 million in restitution to the U.S. Forest Service after fires he lighted at a marijuana growing site sparked a 1,600-acre wildfire.  LA Times article

 Sacramento County gets free test of electric garbage trucks — Sacramento County will be a test market for battery-electric, heavy-duty refuse trucks supplied by a Southern California company.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

 Supreme Court: Big Pharma must pay for prescription drug disposal in Alameda County — Alameda County can force the pharmaceutical industry to pay for collection and disposal of unused drugs that otherwise would end up in the bay, in groundwater or in the hands of abusers now that the Supreme Court declined to hear the case Tuesday.  Contra Costa Times article; KQED report

 Elizabeth Bell: Parents are right to have doubts on vaccinations – The former elementary school teacher writes, “When my second son was diagnosed with autism, I postponed further vaccinations to review research on vaccine safety. My findings created doubts and put me in league with purportedly reckless parents who don’t fully vaccinate.”  Bell op-ed in Sacramento Bee

 Land Use/Housing

 Michael Fitzgerald: The art of homebuilding when broke – In the boom years 2002-04, the city of Stockton threw up about 3,000 homes a year, creating an illegally expansive General Plan and sprawl that contributed to bankruptcy. Then, ke-rash! Since 2008 the city sputtered along with 72 homes or so a year. Mayor Anthony Silva wants to bring back construction.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

 Urban farmers want Visalia to allow backyard chickens – The grassroots movement for backyard chickens in urban areas has been gaining ground nationally, and now Visalia may be next to say yes. Fresno Bee article

 Leno tables Ellis Act reform bill — State Sen. Mark Leno will forgo efforts this year to take on “greedy speculators” who he says are gobbling up San Francisco’s limited rent-controlled housing supply.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

 Advocates call Merced to ‘Back the Mac’ – Youth advocates held a news conference at McNamara Park Youth Center on Tuesday to announce their plans to push for further support for the center. Merced Sun-Star article

 Suicides of two Kingsburg High students shake community – Two Kingsburg High students died by suicide last week, the latest in a cluster of tragic events that have shaken the Kingsburg community this spring. Fresno Bee article

 Moving day for Bakersfield ‘tent city’ residents – Residents of Bakersfield’s so-called “tent city” of homeless at 600 S. Union Ave. have been given a final moving date by city officials. On Wednesday, as early as 6 a.m., city workers will begin clearing the site — and then they’ll fence off the area, which at one time was an industrial site. Bakersfield Californian article

 Armen D. Bacon: Stopping the urge to end life: A plea for courageous community conversation – The suicide rate among teenagers has risen dramatically over the last decade. We mustn’t trivialize psychic distress or confuse it with normal teenage angst. Hopelessness and despair, when unrecognized and untreated, can result in human loss. When this involves a teenager — we lose tomorrow. Bacon column in Fresno Bee

 LA sidewalk repair costs could shift to property owners, city report says — Los Angeles’ commercial property owners should be required to pay for repairing badly broken and inaccessible sidewalks next to their land, a city report released Tuesday suggests.  LA Times article

 To raise a spelling champ, it takes a community — Over 2,700 miles away, Sameera Hussain, of Porterville, is this week representing Tulare Countyin the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland. Hussain, who today turns 12 years old, beat out 243 fourth through eighth graders in March to be named the champion of the Tulare County Spelling Championship. Visalia Times-Delta article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno 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.

Sacramento Bee – Billions of dollars and a third of the nation’s food supply are at stake. So it’s only right that the Obama administration is taking up the plight of the honeybee, a linchpin of our food system. The only thing wrong is that the plan doesn’t go far enough; The California Supreme Court has an opportunity to establish clear lines and provide important consumer protections in a decision that will become ever more relevant as tribes expand commercial ventures; Sending more troops to Iraq isn’t the answer.


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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