May 4, 2015


Receive the Maddy Daily in your inbox every morning! To subscribe or unsubscribe, please send an email to Ana Melendez at

Political Briefs

Top stories

‘Tired of prayer vigils’: California debates 20 bills aimed at police force – At least 20 proposals to regulate body cameras worn by cops, revamp the prosecution of deadly force cases and impose other measures were made in the wake of high-profile killings by police in Ferguson, Mo., New York City, Cleveland and elsewhere. Lawmakers are trying to capitalize on the heightened public interest in one of the country’s most vexing social and political problems.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: Power moves back and forth from capital as California reconfigures government — Since becoming governor for the second time, Jerry Brown has preached the virtues of what he calls “subsidiarity” – reversing the concentration of governmental finances in Sacramento that began when he was governor the first time. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Labor assists marijuana legalization effort in California — Organized labor is assisting efforts to frame a California ballot measure to legalize recreational marijuana use in the state, sensing an opportunity to expand its presence in the workplace. AP article

George Skelton: Venture capitalist Tim Draper takes another swing at reform — Draper has established a website,, that invites people to submit ideas about how to make California government “awesome again.” In venture capitalism, an investor backs promising start-ups, gambling they’ll someday return a fortune. Draper’s new idea is for him and a panel — he hasn’t named it yet — to select innovative proposals for fixing government and then financing them as ballot initiatives. Skelton column in LA Times

Tim Draper: A broken California badly needs transformational solutions – The Silicon Valley venture capitalist writes, “I challenge you, Californians, to come up with ideas that will transform your state. Do you have an idea better than Six Californias? If so, I want to hear it. Bring your idea to me and maybe we can get it on the ballot.” Draper op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Health care: Illegal immigrants would get Medi-Cal under California bill — On Monday, state legislation that would extend free or low-cost health care coverage to immigrants who are in the country illegally heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a key vote. If Senate Bill 4 can make it over that hurdle, through the Assembly and ultimately garner Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, more than a million low-paid undocumented farm and construction workers, hotel maids and service workers would qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s health program for the poor.  San Jose Mercury News article

Other areas

Why don’t more women run for office? — A survey by American University government professor Jennifer Lawless found that 46% of childless women had considered running for office, and 49% of women with children under 7 had thought of running — essentially, having children made no difference. Where the difference lay was between women and men. LA Times article

Carly Fiorina begins presidential bid — Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina is joining the race for the White House. “I am running for president,” said a message posted to her Twitter account on Monday.  Washington Post article; AP article; LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Briefs

Top Stories

Dozens of agencies seek to alter reports on how much water residents used – When California’s State Water Resources Control Board announced last month that it was basing its orders for mandatory water cutbacks on each community’s per capita water use, it elevated a somewhat obscure figure into the spotlight: residential gallons of water used per person per day. Now, as the board prepares to finalize its conservation targets for each community, its staff is busy sifting through scores of inconsistencies in the way water agencies have reported that figure to the state. At stake is exactly how much water millions of Californians will be allowed to use this year.  Sacramento Bee article

Heald students must decide whether to stay the course or seek loan forgiveness – Displaced Heald College students in Roseville are stressing over a difficult choice after their school abruptly closed a week ago. They can transfer the credits they’ve earned to another school and carry the heavy debtload they built at for-profit Heald. Or they can have their federal loans eliminated if they forfeit all their Heald credits – and the time spent earning them. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Uber and Lyft face legal test to sharing economy – Lyft and Uber drivers have mounted major legal challenges to that business model, arguing that they should be classified as employees, rather than independent contractors, a distinction that entitles them to strong protections and benefits under California law and threatens the cost structure of the so-called sharing economy. San Jose Mercury News article

California ‘automatic IRA’ study part of big trend — A quest to help workers save for retirement begun by Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, seven years ago may finally have entered the home stretch of a long journey. Calpensions article

Hotel booking scams cost Americans up to $220 million per year – Hotel booking scams are on the rise partly because 1 in 3 vacations is set up online, with many hotel and airline reservations punched in on those tiny, hard-to-read smartphone screens.  LA Times article

An atlas of upward mobility shows paths out of poverty – A decades-old effort found that moving poor families to better neighborhoods did little to help them, but a new look at the data suggests the opposite.  New York Times article

City is paying heavily for LA Fire Department bias suits — The City Council spent $1.5 million to settle a discrimination lawsuit filed by a black firefighter who was deliberately fed dog food by his colleagues. Council members paid an additional $2.5 million to two white firefighters punished in that incident, who said they too faced racial bias. LA Times article


Oakdale Irrigation District could ease water limit – Despite the dire drought, Oakdale-area farmers could get a bit more water than feared two weeks ago. Thanks to lower than expected “seasonal water use to date,” the Oakdale Irrigation District might stretch this season’s allotment from 30 inches to 36 inches per parcel for most customers, says a report prepared for Tuesday’s board meeting. Modesto Bee article

Dams and reservoirs: The ‘dinosaurs’ of California water storage? – With dead almond trees propped on the Capitol steps and school children clutching signs that read “We need water. Build storage now!”, advocates for new dams and reservoirs in California offered a striking set of visuals in Sacramento last week. U-T San Diego article

Low milk prices, glutted market put strain on dairy farmers – This is shaping up as a challenging year for all U.S. dairy farmers, who enjoyed record high milk prices and low feed prices last year. An increase in milk production combined with sharply lower exports and declining sales of fresh milk have combined to depress milk prices paid to farmers from a 2014 high of about $28 per hundred pounds — about 9 gallons — to below $18 this spring. AP article

Don Curlee: Farm water costs mimic desalting – The price some farmers are paying for water to keep crops alive makes the cost of desalting sea water downright reasonable, but California’s seaside residents aren’t convinced.  Curlee column in Visalia Times-Delta

Veterans find refuge in housing – Matt Smiley feels at home when he’s engaged in physical work. The veins on his arms swell as he digs up a green irrigation hose. The former combat vet says farming is good for his body and his mind. Capital Public Radio report

Ask TBC: How much should I water my trees in this drought? — For this we got advice from two experts, arborist Michael Monji and Eric White at White Forest Nursery. Monji said his best advice would be to apply one to two inches of water per week from the trunk out to the dripline of the tree. The dripline is the outermost portion of the tree’s limbs. Bakersfield Californian article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

David Singer: Remembering the fallen, respecting those who serve — A life in law enforcement is not easy. It is a unique job that requires unique individuals. Our primary mission is to prevent loss of life, injuries, and property damage. An officer can’t just say someone else will “take care of it.” We are the “people” who you call for help. Singer column in Fresno Bee

Second chance for juveniles — The continuation high school is just one facet of the county Probation Department’s Reconnect Reporting Day Center, a re-entry facility for teens on probation that provides close attention and services meant to keep them out of Juvenile Hall. Stockton Record article


Bakersfield College outranks peers statewide on grad earnings — Amber Chiang, spokeswoman for Bakersfield College, said if a student can take a few courses at a community college and come out making $60,000, all the more power to him. The Brookings Institution, a public policy institution, based in Washington, D.C., released a study Wednesday that shows BC is among the best at making that sort of success possible. The local community college ranked first in the state and sixth in the nation for mid-career earnings its former attendees have raked in.Bakersfield Californian article

Enrollment growing at charters – Struggling to ward off closure just a few years ago, the New Jerusalem School District will open the 2015-16 school with nearly 6,000 students at 15 charter schools, including the county’s first visual learning program and a sports-themed school co-founded by retired San Joaquin County Superintendent Mick Founts.  Stockton Record article

Google embeds engineers as professors – In ongoing efforts to diversify Silicon Valley’s tech sector, Google is embedding engineers at a handful of Historically Black Colleges and Universities where they teach, mentor and advise on curriculum. AP article

Bill inspired by elementary school student passes Senate – The California Senate unanimously approved legislation Thursday allowing children to attend school where their live-in working parents reside.  Contra Costa Times article

Livingston schools will offer summer classes again — The Livingston Union School District is planning a four-week effort to train teachers in techniques and provide students some extra help during the first summer program in the district in three years. Merced Sun-Star article


Stanislaus County staff recommends permit for scrap metal recycler in south Modesto – Stanislaus County planning staff recommends approval of a land use permit for a controversial scrap-metal recycling business in south Modesto. The county permit would allow Central Valley Recycling on South Ninth Street to collect up to 2,000 tons of scrap metal per month. The business had asked for a monthly maximum of 2,500 tons. Modesto Bee article

Baldwin Hills-area quakes not linked to oil operations, experts say – Despite concerns from some residents, scientists say two recent earthquakes centered in the Baldwin Hills area — including one Sunday morning — do not appear to be connected to drilling operations at nearby oil fields.  LA Times article

Stanford University wants to keep controversial dam – Stanford University plans to keep a 19th century dam that environmental groups and water officials say is endangering local populations of steelhead trout and other species. AP article

Merced County prepares for mosquito season — The Merced County Mosquito Abatement District started fieldwork to check for mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus. Although the virus has not been detected this year in Merced, mosquito season is just beginning and there is always potential for virus activity to pick up quickly, especially amid high temperatures and dry conditions. Merced Sun-Star article

Health/Human Services

Tulare County mental health: New way to treat those most ill — Using funds from the controversial Proposition 63 mental health services millionaires’ tax, Tulare County has corralled 22 of its most resource-draining and resistant patients into a system-wide “mental health redesign.” The toughest 22 are on track to reduce their hospitalizations by at least a third in the coming year compared to last, according to figures provided by the county. CHCF Center for Health Reporting article in Fresno Bee

Tulare County mental health consumer Mike Rivera: Three months sober from met addiction — The eyes of Mike Rivera dart from spot to spot, as if there’s a threat around every Visalia street corner. “I have like three months sober now. … It feels like I’m kinda new to the group,” said Rivera, slight of build and hushed in his speech. CHCF Center for Health Reporting article in Fresno Bee

Tulare County mental health consumer Mark James: Life began when he tried to kill himself — The walnut trees stood abundant and ordered against the night sky, in sharp contrast to the life of Mark James. It was 1996, and he had loaded up his van with the wares he used as a local carpet cleaner. The gas powered machinery — and the fumes it created — were tasked with a different job this night. CHCF Center for Health Reporting article in Fresno Bee

Tulare County mental health consumer Kevin Davis: HIV patient dreams of a new life beyond schizophrenia — The T-cell count of Kevin Davis had fallen, and within the margins of the mental health system, he sometimes believes he is the only one worried about the tally.  CHCF Center for Health Reporting article in Fresno Bee

Relay for Life generates $1.1 million in 2 days — The 24th annual Bakersfield Relay for Life concluded Sunday at the Kern County Fairgrounds, having raised nearly $1.1 million for cancer research over the course of two days at a new venue.  Bakersfield Californian article

Land Use/Housing

HUD plan on Merced City Council docket — The Merced City Council will look Monday at approving this year’s U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development plan overseen by the city’s Housing Department, which has drawn scrutiny in the last year from at least one councilman. Merced Sun-Star article


Sacramento streetcar plan up for vote this month — Are streetcars, an early-20th century fixture, about to reappear on Sacramento’s 21st century streets? That question likely will be answered this month when downtown residents living near a proposed trolley line vote thumbs up or down on the city’s proposal to create a streetcar special tax district.  Sacramento Bee article;Sacramento Bee editorial

San Jose has ambitious plans to make city streets safer for drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians — Drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians on San Jose streets use the second safest urban roads in the nation. But now there’s a plan to make them safer, as the city embarks on an aggressive $80 million program to slow down speeders, narrow wide streets in favor of bike lanes, make crosswalks more visible and improve lighting across the Bay Area’s biggest city.  San Jose Mercury News article

Other areas

On mural, Sacramento becomes art critic – Artists paint a mural on the side of a neglected building in midtown Sacramento. City officials said the mural was graffiti vandalism and covered the mural.  Sacramento Bee article

Ellis honored for work with alternative courts – Collaborate Courts Coordinator Helen Ellis was this year’s Law Day honoree, an award from the San Joaquin County Bar Association that recognizes people who make a significant impact in the local legal community.  Stockton Record article

Medical assistant shares love for boxing with youth in Livingston — Lizandra Lopez works with youth at 51 Fifty Boxing Club. Her goal is to get youth off the streets. The program teaches girls that boxing is not just a man’s sport. Merced Sun-Star article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Hillary Clinton needs to show her hands are clean.

Sacramento Bee – Payoff from Sacramento streetcar line is worth a little risk.