May 31, 2015


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Fresno federal court docket shows effect of immigration law changes – For years,federal law enforcement officials in Fresno went after deported immigrants who had illegally crossed back over the U.S. border. Again and again, cases of “Deported Alien Found in the United States” popped up on federal court calendars. Between 2010 and 2013, such cases made up close to half of the total U.S. criminal indictments in Fresno. Taken as a whole, the immigration prosecutions averaged more than one a day during that four-year period. Last year, those indictments plummeted, and accounted for barely a quarter of total indictments. The drop from 2013 to 2014: 59%.  Fresno Bee article

Dan Walters: Will tax credit for the poor go on forever? — More than likely, therefore, the EITC will evolve into an “entitlement” that will expand to ever-more recipients. That’s been the history of such benefits, even those deemed to be temporary or non-entitlements when first implemented.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee
State budget

Lenny Mendonca and Peter Weber: Governor’s budget is good news – not because it’s bigger but because it’s better – The co-chairs of the California Forward Leadership Council write, “In a remarkably refreshing proposal, Gov. Jerry Brown wants to use billions of dollars in unexpected revenue to make the budget not only bigger, but also better.” Mendonca/Weber op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Cuellar’s Supreme Court debut upholds victim restitution – Thursday’s California Supreme Court ruling in People vs. William J. Ford wasn’t especially momentous: a unanimous decision upholding $275,000 in restitution to a hit-and-run victim. But as the first majority opinion by freshman Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar — in fact, the first opinion written by either of Gov. Jerry Brown’s newest appointees to the court — it deserves at least a mention in the legal history books.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Steven Greenhut: A civil-liberties rebound in state Capitol? — Since its inception, our nation has struggled to find the right balance between protecting the rights of individuals — our civil liberties — and ensuring that government has the tools to protect the public’s safety and security. Since the terrorist attacks on 9/11, that pendulum has swung sharply and understandably in the security direction. Such a tilt has not only been obvious in national policymaking, but at the state level, where legislators are attuned to public attitudes and to the demands of special interests.  Greenhut in San Diego Union-Tribune article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Modesto considers cash for grass — Modesto may join the growing number of California communities paying homeowners to take out their lawns as the state weathers a fourth year of a devastating drought.  Modesto Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: When to say ‘no’ to literacy – Post-bankrupt Stockton: the games begin. On this team, City Manager Kurt Wilson, the city’s fiscal team and (hopefully) a council that knows the city must exercise continued fiscal restraint. On the other team — this time — former library chief Colleen Foster, literacy buffs, populists, activists and residents of southeast Stockton who want the Fair Oaks Library branch reopened.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Under Prop 47, former felons finding themselves shedding a stifling label — Opponents of the measure said it would make California’s streets more dangerous by releasing criminals and would strip away much of the incentive that got people into drug treatment — keeping a felony off their record. But another part of the law that drew less attention allows people who have already served their time to ask a court to reduce years-old convictions from felonies to misdemeanors.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Lois Henry: Voters can’t be cut out on Kern hiring rules – You would think that after Kern County voters said not once, but twice — and definitively — that they do not want politicians’ grubby hands all over county hiring practices, the county would listen. But nooooooo. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

Movies, wine a potent mix for downtown Lodi’s revival – Weekends, most evenings and even some afternoons, Lodi’s downtown is hopping: Music and light drifts from tasting rooms and bars fronting School Street, the main drag, and spills onto the side streets. Stockton Record article

Minimum-wage hikes meet mixed reaction in San Francisco — In this diverse and densely packed city, known for high living costs and soaring rents, 77 percent of voters last year approved a series of pay hikes that will boost San Francisco’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2018. Yet there are tensions these days on Valencia Street in San Francisco’s multicultural Mission District over the minimum wage hike and what it means for businesses and the ability of residents to keep up with rising costs.  Sacramento Bee article

Elon Musk’s growing empire is fueled by $4.9 billion in government subsidies — Los Angeles entrepreneur Elon Musk has built a multibillion-dollar fortune running companies that make electric cars, sell solar panels and launch rockets into space. And he’s built those companies with the help of billions in government subsidies. LA Times article

The evolution of an app — To explore what goes on inside this often dramatic if largely veiled process, we follow the creators behind a new app called Tape, a social-networking platform that allows users to upload and then contribute short clips to larger collaborative videos. San Jose Mercury News article


Michael Hiltzik: Past thinking about California’s water may still bear pointers for future – The decline of Lake Mead to a water level not seen in nearly eight decades, or since the giant reservoir was still filling behind the just-completed Hoover Dam, is more than a visual reminder of the severity of the drought. It’s a reminder that this crucial part of California’s water supply, the economic lifeblood of the state, remains encumbered by false expectations and outdated dreams. It may also point to a way out of the crisis. Hiltzik in LA Times

For California swimming pools, this is hardly a dry spell — Despite the severe drought, Californians built more backyard swimming pools in 2014 than in any year since the peak of the housing boom. And this year the state is on pace to shatter last year’s mark. NPR report

Jeff Jardine: A view of the drought from the bottom up — Sometimes words aren’t enough. Charts, graphs and even photos might help somewhat. But there’s nothing like seeing it in person. The drought is one of those cases. The groundwater we can’t really see. That bigger picture requires math, computer models and serious guessing. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fatal police shootings in 2015 approaching 400 nationwide – The three are among at least 385 people shot and killed by police nationwide during the first five months of this year, more than two a day, according to a Washington Post analysis. That is more than twice the rate of fatal police shootings tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete.  Washington Post article 

Shortage of deputies could threaten LA County sheriff’s reform agenda —  As Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell tries to turn around a department under federal scrutiny for jail brutality, racial harassment and corruption, one of his most immediate challenges is a staffing shortage that could threaten his reform agenda. LA Times article

Donald W. Blount: Angry about wanton Stockton violence – My heart aches for Stockton while it also burns with anger. Last week’s shootings left me shaking my head. Blount column in Stockton Record

Sacramento Bee: Better mental health care, less litigation – For now, most California prison inmates who need care are getting it. Yes, it has taken 25 years. Still, the improvement and desire to get better still are praiseworthy. Sacramento Bee editorial

Clovis police officer receives California Hero Award — A Clovis police officer will receive a California Hero Award at the 17th annual Statewide Law Enforcement and Community Recognition event sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Fresno Bee article


Oakland mom seeks to make schools better for kids traumatized by violence — Niicole Wiggins knows violence firsthand. When she was pregnant with her son, someone opened fire on a car she was riding in with her baby’s father. He was shot and killed. KQED report


EPA proposal would put bigger trucks on fuel diet – This week, the E.P.A. is expected to propose regulations to cut greenhouse gas emissions from heavy-duty trucks, requiring that their fuel economy increase up to 40 percent by 2027, compared with levels in 2010, according to people briefed on the proposal. New York Times article

Veronica Garibay: Climate law fuels Fresno’s moment in the sun – The co-founder and co-director of the Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability writes, “Now that the industry is paying to cover some of the costs of its pollution, AB 32 climate investments will grow to provide even greater opportunities in the San Joaquin Valley and beyond.” Garibay op-ed in Fresno Bee

Toxic metal levels rise on UC Davis property – scientists confounded – Levels of the carcinogen chromium-6 are rising in groundwater at a UC Davis site used as an animal-testing laboratory during the Cold War, and university officials are at a loss to explain why. Sacramento Bee article

Small wildfires keep Fresno, Mariposa and Madera crews busy — Central San Joaquin Valley firefighters were dealing with three wildland fires Saturday. Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Modesto gets push-back over massage business ban — Modesto continues to face questions and criticism over its temporary ban on the opening of new massage and bodywork businesses and the expansion and relocation of existing ones.  Modesto Bee article

Other areas

San Francisco vision: Catch speeders on camera, but there’s a catch — San Francisco’s streets, already home to cameras that spit out tickets to drivers who run red lights and park in Muni zones, will also be dotted with devices to catch speeders, if city leaders have their way. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California Supreme Court should protect consumers.

Sacramento Bee – For now, most California prison inmates who need care are getting it. Yes, it has taken 25 years. Still, the improvement and desire to get better still are praiseworthy;

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: 


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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