May 3, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California pot legalization is all about details — Though public polls show a growing majority of state voters back the concept of legalizing marijuana, the data gathered in Riverside, Fremont and Los Angeles underscore the challenges to crafting a measure that can withstand the scrutiny of a multimillion-dollar opposition campaign. Commissioned by the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, the research also provides an example of the steps being taken by sophisticated political operations to help shape a ballot-box fight with national implications.  Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Jerry Brown’s charities rake in cash through ‘behested payments’ — Just because Gov. Jerry Brown has already run his last election campaign doesn’t mean wealthy contributors can no longer find a way to his heart. Contra Costa Times article

Other areas

Former Assembly speaker returns with ambitious tax overhaul – His nicknames include Huggy, Herztie and Hugsberg, child-like monikers that when combined with his freshman status in the state Senate might make it seem Bob Hertzberg is a back-bencher. In fact, the Democrat is a major California political player with more than four decades of experience. His opening proposal is an ambitious tax overhaul. It centers on expanding California’s sales tax to more services, while lowering the state’s 7.5 percent base rate to as little as 4 percent. He also calls for doing away with local add-on taxes.  AP article

William Endicott: On vaccinations, California could learn from Mississippi, West Virginia – The former deputy managing editor of the Sacramento Bee writes, “While legislators dilly, dally and vacillate in response to a small but loud minority opposed to vaccines on a variety of questionable grounds, two states usually viewed among the most backward in the country are light years ahead of us. Mississippi and West Virginia make it very simple. They refuse to exempt children from mandatory vaccinations on either personal or religious beliefs.”  Endicott op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Oakland mayor, police chief admit vandalism response fell short — Mayor Libby Schaaf, who had said beforehand that the city would not tolerate violence, conceded that “we did not do as good of a job as we should have protecting property.”  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff put to test by violent protest – The stakes for Oakland’s new Mayor Libby Schaaf are high. She is courting new businesses to the city and has said that keeping it safe — a promise she made during the campaign last fall — is paramount. On Friday night, things fell apart. San Francisco Chronicle article

Marcos Breton: Sacramento isn’t immune to Baltimore-type unrest, Mayor Johnson says — Kevin Johnson, Sacramento’s first black mayor, is acutely aware of the potential for an explosion of rage in Sacramento’s black community. He grew up in Oak Park, which is still plagued by poverty, crime and lack of opportunity.  Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Rep. Ami Bera: Why I support Pacific trade deal – The Elk Grove Democratic congressman writes, “My support of the Trade Promotion Authority means I support giving the president instructions to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership because I believe a good trade deal is in Sacramento County’s and America’s best interests. A good deal must first and foremost support high-quality American jobs, grow our middle class and help us sell more of our goods in markets abroad.” Bera op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Steve Lopez: Locked out of Mayor Garcetti’s reelection wingding —  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti launched his reelection campaign Thursday night with a Hollywood bash headlined by Stevie Wonder. But Little Stevie Lopez was not invited, nor was anyone who didn’t pony up $1,400 for a ticket to the fundraiser.  Lopez column in LA Times

News Briefs

Top Stories

Central Valley’s growing concern: Crops raised with oil field water — As California’s four-year drought lingers and authorities scramble to conserve every drop, agricultural officials have said that more companies are seeking permits to begin similar programs. The heightened interest in recycling oil field wastewater has raised concern over the adequacy of safety measures in place to prevent contamination from toxic oil production chemicals.  LA Times article

Michael Fitzgerald: Uncle Sam stiffs the neediest of cities – I don’t know what’s worse: a water-grabbing governor who thinks of the Delta as the new Owens Valley or a United States President who doesn’t know Stockton exists. Competition is brisk. May I have the envelope, please? And the winner is Obama. Because this week Uncle Sam passed Stockton over — again — for selection as a Promise Zone.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Jobs and the Economy

Mike Klocke: Presidential ‘focus’ on San Joaquin Valley shows no promise – It’s understandable that Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, is ticked off that south Stockton was not designated one of President Obama’s “Promise Zone” areas, which would have made it eligible for many types of federal government funding. But it’s not surprising. Obama’s commitment to California for two terms has basically been to fly here in Air Force One when there’s fundraising to be done. Cha-ching, then fasten your seatbelts for takeoff.  Klocke column in Stockton Record

West Sacramento loses sales tax revenue, seeks bill to close loophole – West Sacramento leaders noticed something awry when sales tax revenue came in last November. The city – which has an array of retail stores, warehouse distributors and industrial businesses – was short nearly $600,000 in sales tax revenue it had anticipated from HD Supply, a company that sells hardware fixtures and home improvement products.  Sacramento Bee article

Space Port CEO setting sights on retirement – He tried to retire once before, but stayed on at the request of his board of directors. Now Stuart O. “Stu” Witt, the general manager and CEO of the Mojave Air and Space Port, is going to try again. Bakersfield Californian article

Dave Goldberg, SurveyMonkey CEO and Sheryl Sandberg’s husband, dead at 47 – Dave Goldberg, the CEO of online survey company SurveyMonkey and husband of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, died suddenly Friday night. He was 47 years old. San Francisco Chronicle article; San Jose Mercury News article; LA Times article; New York Times article

Tony Amador: Poverty can be overcome with effort, focus – The retired U.S. marshal writes, “For too long, sociologists have excused away criminality as a natural consequence of poverty. This socially accepted theory needs to be reconciled with the many, many, many poor who did not use poverty as justification for illegal acts.” Amador op-ed in Stockton Record

3 Bay Area counties among fastest growing in state — State Department of Finance data show California gained 358,000 residents in 2014 to bring the state’s total population to 38.7 million. Three of the five fastest-growing counties in the state were in the Bay Area — San Francisco, Alameda and Contra Costa, while Dublin was one of the fastest-growing cities in California.  San Francisco Chronicle article; Contra Costa Times article


Dan Walters: Free market should set California’s water price – Replacing our antiquated, very inefficient water rights system with market pricing would not be easy. Those who would be compelled to give up their rights should receive fair compensation. However, facing drought and supply uncertainty problems similar to those in California, Australia did it a few years ago. And we could do it as well, if we had sufficient political will.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

A drought like no other – Californians are used to droughts, which on average happen once every decade. But the drought we’re in now looks different from all the rest in California’s modern history in its length and severity. U-T San Diego article

Stockton Record: The ‘Fix’ is in – This much is excruciatingly clear about Gov. Jerry Brown: he is not a plumber, and he’s not to be trusted with the future of the Delta at stake. Stockton Record editorial

Fresno Bee: Delta plan now has realistic restoration goals – Gov. Brown has been working on water since he was governor the first time. Now, he is in the fifth year of his second stint as chief executive. Planning and discussion about the delta and a conveyance has been interminable. Thursday’s announcement could turn out to be important. For now, however, it seems to be a start, one that has been a long time in coming.  Fresno Bee editorial

Victor Davis Hanson: California drought is dripping with irony — A record 1 in 4 Californians was not born in the United States, according to the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California. Whatever one’s view on immigration, it is ironic to encourage millions of newcomers to settle in the state without first making commensurately liberal investments for them in water supplies and infrastructure.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Timothy Egan: The end of California? – California, from this drought onward, will be a state transformed. The Dust Bowl of the 1930s was human-caused, after the grasslands of the Great Plains were ripped up, and the land thrown to the wind. It never fully recovered. The California drought of today is mostly nature’s hand, diminishing an Eden created by man. The Golden State may recover, but it won’t be the same place.  Egan in New York Times

Coachella Valley golf courses pumping groundwater must cut use by 25 percent – Golf courses in the Coachella Valley and elsewhere that rely on private wells will have to reduce water use by 25% or limit watering to twice a week as part of the governor’s mandate for cutbacks. But the courses will not have to report their water usage, meaning compliance is largely on the honor system. LA Times article

Sacramento water coalition works to avoid feared ‘dead pool’ at Folsom Dam — It happened last February, in year three of what state officials are now calling California’s millennial drought. Visitors to Folsom Lake found levels so low they could hike for miles on dry lakebed and explore remnants of a previously inundated Gold Rush village.  Sacramento Bee article

Steve Knell: We don’t think 1 steelhead worth 1,000 acre feet – The general manager of the Oakdale Irrigation District writes, “I read with disappointment Bruce Maiman’s op-ed (“Another fish tale mucks up debate over the Stan,” Page D3, April 26). His investigation into the “muck” on the release of 27,000 acre-feet of water from New Melones Reservoir to benefit 29 steelhead trout on the Stanislaus River did little to clear up these muddied waters. So just the facts in response.”  Knell op-ed in Modesto Bee

Groundwater fears cloud Del Rio well lawsuit against Modesto — An environmental justice lawsuit tinged with elements of drought, country club vs. rural underdog and fighting City Hall is about to get its day in court. Some people north of Modesto are challenging a government plan to drill a huge well near their rural homes, at Ladd and St. John roads, saying it could suck dry their shallower domestic wells. They’re not wild at the thought of a 20-foot, 250,000-gallon water tank invading their neighborhood, either.  Modesto Bee article

Catfish, anyone? Drought could change fish on California dinner plates — California’s multiyear drought is changing the state’s aquaculture industry. Experts say it eventually could alter the species that wind up being sold in the state’s fish markets, farmers markets and in restaurants that buy fish directly from growers.  Sacramento Bee article

Paul Shapiro: A plant-based diet can help save water – The vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States writes, “Yet for all the obsession with almonds, experts agree that plant-based proteins use less water than their animal-based counterparts. Indeed, the top recommendation issued by the United Nations for World Water Day each spring urges us to ‘replace meat with another source of protein.’” Shapiro op-ed in Sacramento Bee

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.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sacramento Bee: Police need to get tough enough for transparency — It’s a new world, one in which everyone is watching – and wondering whether the police will ever become tough enough for transparency.  Sacramento Bee editorial


Fresno Bee executive editor named City College distinguished alum — Fresno Bee executive editor and senior vice president Jim Boren, who launched his career more than 45 years ago while working at the Fresno City College newspaper, has been named the school’s 2015 Distinguished Alumnus.  Fresno Bee article

Herb Benham: Educator wins top honor for helping students help selves — Jose Garza is one of those people you hear about now and will hear about five years from now. Nothing he has done or will do surprises. Success is in his DNA. Recently the 36-year-old counselor at Foothill High School was awarded a Fulbright Distinguished Award in teaching. He is one of 49 educators in the country to win the award and one of the first in Kern County. Garza will spend six months in Great Britain studying the creation of a counseling program for at-risk kids. Benham column in Bakersfield Californian

Jody Hironaka-Juteau named new Health and Services dean at Fresno State — Fresno State announced Thursday that Jody Hironaka-Juteau will immediately assume the permanent role of dean of the College of Health and Human Services, a post she has held on an interim basis since July 2013.  Fresno Bee article

Charter school dissolves amid charges of nepotism, fiscal mismanagement, enrollment fraud — Renew Virtual Academies, a charter school in the New Jerusalem School District, has been dissolved and its roughly 80 students absorbed into other sites amid allegations of fiscal mismanagement, nepotism and enrollment fraud against the school’s founder.  Stockton Record article

Sacramento-area school districts spend thousands to win awards — Sacramento-area school districts are spending thousands of dollars annually to enter contests and win awards for employees.  Sacramento Bee article

Joseph Palermo: Substituting anthropology for American history is wrong-headed – The professor of history at CSU, Sacramento writes, “Sacramento State university administrators and like-minded faculty voted to approve a cultural anthropology course as a suitable substitute for a foundational American history general education requirement. Swapping an anthropology course for American history will leave our freshmen and sophomores little understanding of how American institutions have changed through time.”  Palermo op-ed in Sacramento Bee


San Bruno: PUC says PG&E shouldn’t get tax write-off for $1.6 billion fine — State officials on Friday requested that federal, state and local tax authorities deny any attempt by PG&E to seek tax write-offs as compensation for a record $1.6 billion penalty that California regulators imposed on the utility giant for causing a fatal explosion of natural gas in San Bruno.  San Jose Mercury News article

PUC member Florio knew of ex-chief Peevey’s pressure on utilities – A California Public Utilities Commission member who was present when the agency’s president pressured Southern California utilities to funnel $25 million to a pet cause last year played a pivotal role in keeping the lobbying secret, according to the account of a top utility executive.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Morain: A shakedown by any other name — This past week, Southern California Edison filed documents with the Public Utilities Commission detailing how Michael Peevey tried to persuade Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to donate $25 million to fund the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA. If I didn’t know better, I could have concluded Peevey was a bully, maybe even an extortionist. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Salas bill would delineate responsibilities in wake of Arvin pipeline leak — Legislation under consideration in Sacramento aims to address questions of public and private responsibility that arose last year after an Arvin gas pipeline leak forced about three dozen people from their homes for more than eight months. In its current form, Assembly Bill 1420, authored by Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, would require state regulators to prioritize the testing of any oil-related pipeline running near homes or schools.  Bakersfield Californian article

Health/Human Services

UC CalFresh program teaches children healthy eating, and parents get the message, too — Introducing new vegetables is one of the goals of the University of California Cooperative Extension educators who provide nutrition information to schoolchildren and low-income adults in Fresno County. The program teaches children how to identify healthy foods and encourages them to increase physical activity and to apply what they learn to make healthy choices at school and home. Adults are taught skills to help families eat well on limited food budgets.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno resident meets woman who helped save her life with organ donation — Sometimes, the pain was so bad Sandy Lynch wished for death. Three days a week for seven years — three to three and a half hours each session — the Fresno woman visited a dialysis clinic, where plastic tubes ran from her arm to a machine that filtered her blood, filling in for kidneys that no longer worked. Fresno Bee article

Whistle-blower files lawsuit against cardiac surgeon and Community Regional Medical Center — A Fresno hospital worker who became a whistle-blower against a prominent heart surgeon has filed a lawsuit against the doctor and Community Regional Medical Center for retaliation and wrongful termination.  Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Feds seize large Fresno County tribal cache of cigarettes – Another Central California Indian tribe has a beef with the federal government. Federal agents seized more than $600,000 in cigarettes destined for the Big Sandy Rancheria, but tribal leaders say the cigarettes were improperly confiscated and have filed legal action to have them returned. Fresno Bee article

Lois Henry: Gracie says hi, and thanks, from Washington — I’ve written about Wings of Rescue a couple times and the great work it does flying unwanted animals out of locally jammed shelters to waiting homes, mostly in the Pacific Northwest. To date, Wings has flown more than 2,000 dogs out of Kern County, nearly 1,000 since the beginning of this year alone. Since Wings’ goal is go get 2,000 dogs out of Kern this year, we’re well on our way.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Pope Francis praises Junipero Serra as U.S. ‘founding father’ — Pope Francis weighed in on a thorny topic in California history Saturday when he spoke at length at a Rome Mass about Father Junipero Serra, the controversial California mission founder set to become the first Latino saint later this year. LA Times article; AP article

Lewis Griswold: Haunted Zalud house in Porterville named a county treasure — Gambling, murder, ghosts and a chair with bullet holes give the Zalud House Museum in Porterville a special allure, prompting the Tulare County Treasures Project to highlight the home as one of the county’s lesser-known gems.  Griswold in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The Delta plan now has realistic restoration goals.

Modesto Bee – Visiting editors: Looking into the future of our lawns and health care.

Sacramento Bee – It’s a new world, one in which everyone is watching – and wondering whether the police will ever become tough enough for transparency;

Stockton Record – This much is excruciatingly clear about Gov. Jerry Brown: he is not a plumber, and he’s not to be trusted with the future of the Delta at stake.