May 30, 2015

30May

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Political Briefs

Top stories 

California Senate offers 24-hour rides for lawmakers too drunk to drive — California Senate officials earlier this year hired two part-time employees to provide late-night and early-morning rides for members while they are in Sacramento, a 24-hour service that follows high-profile drunken driving arrests involving lawmakers in recent years. Sacramento Bee article

California Sen. Kevin de Leon slams ‘cynical’ Supreme Court redistricting case – State Senate leader Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) issued a vehement defense of the principle of “one person, one vote” Friday, four days after the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it would consider a case that could upend the way voting districts are drawn if that longstanding calculus is redefined.  LA Times article

Other areas

Scott Lay: Califoria could lose congressional seats if Supreme Court changes law to ‘one citizen-one vote’ – States with a greater percentage of undocumented immigrants or documented non-citizen residents or even more kids (California, Texas) would lose congressional seats–since they are not considered in the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP). Let’s pause on the last factor. Lay in Fox & Hounds 

Tech companies aren’t so transparent when it comes to politics – Google and Facebook depend on users sharing their personal information. But when it comes to corporate transparency, those companies and other leading tech firms prefer to protect their privacy.  San Francisco Chronicle article 

Republicans, campaign committee settle elephant litigation – The California Republican Party and an independent spending group have settled a federal lawsuit alleging that the group unlawfully used the GOP’s trademarked elephant logo on mailers during a hotly contested East Bay Senate race.  Capitol Alert

Labor-funded ad slams Ami Bera over trade deal stance — Deepening the rift between Rep. Ami Bera and organized labor groups that helped Bera to narrow election victories, the AFL-CIO has funded an advertisement slamming Bera’s support of a controversial trade pact. Capitol Alert

Kamala Harris’ office probes 2nd employee charged with posing as law enforcement – About a year before an aide to the state’s top prosecutor was put on leave after being accused of impersonating a police officer, another employee in Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris’ office was arrested for posing as a member of law enforcement. LA Times article

Patriot Act’s future uncertain as Sunday night Senate vote looms — President Barack Obama on Friday urged the Senate not to let the National Security Agency’s power to collect Americans’ phone records expire, warning that U.S. intelligence agencies could be left in the dark.  McClatchy Newspapers article

News Briefs

Top Stories 

State, San Joaquin County looking strong despite drought – California’s economy will remain on a strong growth track, despite a faltering national outlook and growing concerns over the fourth year of drought, according to a forecast Friday from the Center for Business and Policy Research at University of the Pacific. Stockton Record article; Capital Public Radio report; Sacramento Bee article

Fresno County picked for global initiative to reduce preterm births — Over the years, Fresno County has had little luck in making more than a dent in preterm births, but community leaders now hope participation in a 10-year, $100 million global preterm birth initiative will deliver more full-term babies. Fresno Bee article 

With Medi-Cal rates swelling, health care industry funds campaign to raise rates — With ballooning Medi-Cal rolls providing an impetus and a stocked budget providing the means, an alliance between labor and the healthcare industry is pushing to reverse a rate cut imposed during the recession. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Social services, parks, code enforcement priorities in Stanislaus County budget – A Stanislaus County budget plan released Friday would add staff positions to handle the increased demand for mental health and social services. Residents could also expect to see better park maintenance and stronger code enforcement if county leaders approve the budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Modesto Bee article

Judge dismisses unfair labor practice charges against Fresno County – Fresno County officials dodged a potential $100 million bullet when a state Public Employment Relations Board judge dismissed charges of bad-faith negotiating and unfair labor practice stemming from a 2011 dispute with the county’s largest union. Fresno Bee article

New coworking space aims to grow Bakersfield’s technology sector – The 420-square-foot space directly above Dagny’s coffee house opened last month after a chance encounter on the Internet. A woman who was traveling to Bakersfield for work last year had gone online to ask whether there was a coworking location in town. Two local men responded, no, but there should be. Bakersfield Californian article 

See how much income you’d need to afford a home in most California cities – California median home prices have risen by $120,000 in the last three years, once again putting them out of reach of most households in the state. The median sales price for homes in California – the middle-priced home in a ranked list – was $393,000 in January 2015, according to real estate tracking firmZillow.comSacramento Bee article

New fruit, vegetable marketing campaign launched in Fresno – A new marketing campaign created to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables was launched in downtown Fresno Friday afternoon.  The Business Journal article

Clovis website aims to lure, grow businesses — The city of Clovis has launched a new website designed to help businesses grow, start up and move to the city. The site, www.clovis4business.com has information and links about training opportunities, government incentives, access to capital, assistance with regulations and other topics. Fresno Bee article 

Modesto-area wineries look to move up in market – U.S. wine drinkers continued their shift toward higher-priced bottles from California last year – a trend of interest to Modesto-area producers. Modesto Bee article 

John Lindt: Jobless rate falls, auto sales up – The unemployment rate in Tulare County was 11.5 percent in April 2015, down from a revised 13.2 percent in March 2015, and below the year-ago estimate of 13.3 percent.  Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta

Entries being taken for Fresno Food Expo – Food producers in the San Joaquin Valley could be hard-pressed to top the pepperoni tamale, one of the winners at last year’s Fresno Food Expo. But should they decide to enter new products in the fifth annual event, they have until July 2 to do so. Modesto Bee article 

Pacific Southwest building owner unveils upgraded ballroom — When he bought the old Security Bank building on the Fulton Mall in downtown Fresno in 2011, Sevak Khatchadourian promised a number of upgrades for the 1920s-era edifice — including a facelift for the aging, dated Bankers Ballroom. Fresno Bee article 

Moody’s downgrades Richmond, cites pension debt, increased spending – Citing growing spending and reduced revenues, bond-rating agency Moody’s has downgraded Richmond’s issuer rating, meaning the city may have to pay higher interest rates if it wants to borrow money in the future.  Contra Costa Times article

Richmond looks to social impact bonds to clean up blight – Abandoned properties continue to plague the city, requiring it to spend an estimated $1.7 million, or about $7,000 per home, just to keep them shuttered, squatters out and the grass mowed.  Contra Costa Times article 

With Broadcom exit, headquarters flight from Southern California continues — Irvine chip maker Broadcom Corp. is the latest of many corporate headquarters to exit Southern California, leaving the business community puzzling over the causes and effects. LA Times article 

A look at Farmers’ new insurance for California Uber and Lyft drivers — Never mind the state regulations, the sky-high valuations and the fact that a character on a recent “Veep” mentioned catching an Uber. Maybe an indication that any concept has entered the fabric of mainstream American society is that you can get it insured. KQED report

Agriculture/Water/Drought

Much of Sierra sees big rainfall, snow totals in May – For a lone, lovely month, it hasn’t much felt like a drought in the Sierra Nevada. Rain and snow have fallen week after week during May in the high country. Temperatures have dropped below normal most days, reducing the amount of water lost to evaporation. Southern California has received an unusual amount of rain, too: San Diego has seen 2.4 inches of precipitation in May; it normally gets 0.21 inches. Sacramento Bee article

California drought brings tighter building codes to cut turf use – Sprawling green lawns around new homes, businesses and schools in California will be a thing of the past under new state building codes approved Friday.  LA Times article; AP article

Cal Water cuts kick in Monday – Customers of the private California Water Service Co. will see some of the county’s most aggressive water conservation programs this summer under a plan approved by state regulators on Friday. Stockton Record article 

Historic Kern River 3 hydroelectric plant gets facelift – There are few silver linings to California’s four-year-long drought. But Southern California Edison Co. may have found a small sliver. Last year, the company embarked on a massive facelift of its nearly 100-year-old Kern River 3 hydroelectric power plants above Kernville, about 50 miles east of Bakersfield. Long overdue for repair and some TLC handling, the plant was taken offline at a time when the drought-starved Kern River was running low. Bakersfield Californian article

Danielle Shapazian: Stop shaming Valley farmers – The nurse and writer who lives in Fresno writes, “By now, we’ve all heard of almond-shaming. The concept can be easily expanded to farmer-shaming. Then there is water-shaming. Many Californians, in their acts of dowsing, wield magical sticks, hitting growers on the head with disjointed accusations. How greedy those Valley farmers! How shameful their crop choices!” Shapazian op-ed in Fresno Bee

Lemoore neighborhood’s wells going dry – Water wells in an upscale neighborhood just south of the Lemoore city limits are running dry, prompting residents to ask the city for help. Hanford Sentinel article

Water rules, rates on Hanford council agenda – As the state tightens the screws on water use, the Hanford City Council will vote on an urgency ordinance Tuesday to enact stricter rules to help the city cut its water use by 28 percent.  Hanford Sentinel article

Staying above water – As the drought forces residents to let their yards dry out, members of local community gardens are getting smarter about their water use. Hanford Sentinel article

Joel Fox: ‘Hose rage’ and other odds and ends — We all know about “Road Rage” but because of California’s dire drought conditions we may need to get ready for “Hose Rage.” This term was used in Australia during long periods of drought when neighbors would turn on neighbors who were using excessive amounts of water to wet lawns. There was even areported homicide attributed to “hose rage” in Sydney. Will the “hose rage” psychology hit California? Fox in Fox & Hounds

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Tulare police chief appears to be in trouble again – Tulare Police chief Jerry Breckinridge is not at work and appears to be at risk of losing his job, but the reasons remain shrouded in mystery. In an email to city staff Tuesday, City Manager Don Dorman said Breckinridge “is unavailable to conduct city business until further notice from me.” Fresno Bee article

44 honored at Fresno police swearing-in ceremony – Forty-four Fresno Police Department employees were honored Friday afternoon at a swearing-in ceremony at City Hall.  Fresno Bee article 

Barstow police wrestled a pregnant woman to the ground, and it was caught on video – A video taken off a police body camera that showed a Barstow police officer wrestling and handcuffing an eight-months-pregnant woman has sparked outrage and calls for justice.  LA Times article

Education

For first-generation students, graduating from college takes grit and grown-up support – This time of year, we’re posting selfies with happy college graduates and forwarding inspirational commencement speeches — and why not? Graduation is a righteous achievement. But it’s a lot harder for some than others. Especially for low-income students who are the first in their families to go to college.  KQED report 

The Numbers Crunch: Job chances are up for Class of 2015, and so is debt – This college commencement season, graduates can look forward to the best job prospects in years. But they better find a position that pays pretty well, because they’re leaving campus with thehighest debt everSacramento Bee article 

A look at $4.7 million granted to Visalia Unified — It was announced Wednesday that Visalia Unified School District is to receive $4.7 million for its career pathway programs. The grant, from the California Career Pathways Trust program, will be shared with the school district’s seven regional partners over the next two school years — with VUSD receiving $754,142 for the 2015-16 academic year and same amount the 2016-17 year. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Denair High trims classes to match fewer students expected in fall — Four instructors will have reduced class schedules in 2015-16 because of projected enrollment declines at Denair High School. Just 270 students are expected on campus for the first day of the 2015-16 school year when it begins Aug. 12, down from 305 who attended this past school year. Modesto Bee article 

Steve Lopez: Willpower, wisdom fuel 99-year-old’s quest for a college degree — Next Friday, Daniels, who lives in Agua Dulce, will walk across a stage and receive her Associate of Arts degree in social science from College of the Canyons. Not bad for a 99-year-old whose high school years ended almost eight decades ago.  LA Times article

Energy/Environment

California struggles to calculate value of solar — Rooftop solar electricity — what is it truly worth? A search for answers by California utility regulators is generating some prickly computer challenges. San Diego Union-Tribune article 

South Bay beaches reopen after tar balls forced closure — Officials reopened South Bay beaches Friday evening after crews spent two days clearing the sand of tar balls that washed on shore, U.S. Coast Guard and Los Angeles County Department of Health officials said. LA Times article

Patchwork of oversight keeps tabs on California’s vast oil pipeline network – The pipeline that ruptured on May 19, spilling thousands of gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean, runs right through Santa Barbara County on its way to refineries in the Central Valley. Yet the county has no regulatory authority over it. KQED report

Community group wants a new park in Southwest Fresno – A local organization is asking the City of Fresno to build a new park for residents in an older part of town. Jose Leon-Barazza with the Southeast Fresno Community Economic Development Association will ask the city council on Thursday to spend $200,000 to do preliminary work to turn a largely vacant 48-acre parcel on South Peach Avenue into a park and soccer fields.  KVPR report 

CPUC judge had backchannel talks — The judge in charge of deciding whether to reopen the San Onofre settlement — and whether Southern California Edison should be sanctioned for failing disclose private communications with regulators who approved it — was herself involved in backchannel dealings with an Edison executive.  San Diego Union-Tribune article

Health/Human Services

Report: Health care for seniors declines in state – Many California seniors are battling an increasing number of days in which they deal with depression and other mental health issues, according to a recent report. The report, which ranks states based on several health markers, named California the 29th healthiest state for seniors, a drop of 11 spots from last year’s position. Merced Sun-Star article 

Newly insured Californians wary of costs but embrace coverage — Many Californians who obtained health insurance last year said they struggled to pay their premiums, although having coverage made them more confident about affording future medical care, according to a survey released Thursday. KQED report

Synthetic biology: Engineered calls detect diabetes and cancer — A Stanford-designed project has built a startling new tool for diagnostic medicine: living biosensors made of bacteria that glow a particular color when they detect trouble. San Jose Mercury News article

Land Use/Housing 

San Joaquin COG backs asking state for project funds – Two downtown housing projects, one providing affordable apartment units and the other serving low-income veterans and individuals with mental illness, await funding approval next month from the state. The San Joaquin Council of Governments’ full board voted unanimously Thursday night to seek a combined $13.3 million in Affordable Housing Sustainable Communities funding from the state’s Strategic Growth Council. Stockton Record article

Hanford senior housing project makes strides — Let’s say you or your parents are planning to retire soon: Could you (or they) afford to live at The Remington, considered one of the premier senior independent living options in Hanford? That question has Fresno builder Ashwood Construction proposing a 39-unit, affordable senior apartment complex just south of The Remington on a vacant lot behind CVS Pharmacy. Hanford Sentinel article

Transportation

Fresno City Hall optimistic about FAX, Bus Rapid Transit – Fresno is spending millions for new Fresno Area Express buses, replenishing a fleet that serves as the city’s main source of public transportation. But once again controversy over BRT — Bus Rapid Transit — is stealing the show. Fresno Bee article

San Fernando leaders confront state officials over bullet train route – Finding a route into the Los Angeles Basin for the California bullet train is proving far more difficult than it seemed a year ago, as opposition is surging in wealthy and working-class communities alike. LA Times article

Lane-splitting for motorcycles is safe, says landmark Berkeley study – A study on which new California legislation is based says lane-splitting is relatively safe for motorcyclists — even safer than not lane-splitting. The exhaustive UC Berkeley study, a copy of which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times, reviewed 6,000 motorcycle-involved traffic collisions between June 2012 and August 2013. Almost 1,000 of those accidents involved lane-splitting.  LA Times article

Other areas

Rave reviews for new San Joaquin County courthouse, views – Although the San Joaquin County Superior Court’s new building is a year from completion, court dignitaries, architects and construction employees gathered Friday afternoon to celebrate a major milestone during a traditional topping-out ceremony. Stockton Record article

Bakersfield cancels July Fourth River Walk fireworks — Bakersfield’s free Fourth at River Walk event, which featured fireworks, live entertainment and children’s activities in 2014 — and drew a crowd of more than 12,000 people — has been canceled this year, City Manager Alan Tandy said Friday. Bakersfield California article

Judge issues restraining order against companies accused of cheating older veterans — A Kern County Superior Court judge has issued a temporary restraining order against a local businessman the county District Attorney’s office claims took advantage of military veterans and their families. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Modesto Bee – Our Views: Community steps up to support bullied Turlock girl, condolences to Brent Layton of Escalon, and other issues; Bee visiting editors gives their takes on groundwater and Uber.

Upcoming Events 

  • The California High-Speed Rail Authority is hosting an Industry Forum on Wednesday, June 10, from 1-3 p.m. in the Wasco Veterans Hall.  The event is for businesses interested in working on the next 22-mile phase of construction in the Central Valley.  Information and registration: http://hsr.ca.gov/Newsroom/events.html.

Interactive

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 atwww.federalbudgetchallenge.org.

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.  http://www.sacbee.com/votingrecord/

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 http://twitter.com/MaddyInstitute. 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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