May 5, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Jerry Brown raises California smoking age to 21, tightens vaping rules — Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday enacted California’s most significant new tobacco regulations in decades, signing laws that will place tight restrictions on use of the increasingly popular e-cigarette and make California the second state to raise its smoking age to 21. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleKQED reportNew York Times articleSacramento Bee editorial

Marijuana legalization campaign launches in California —  The coalition behind the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in California launched Wednesday, vowing to avoid the stumbles that undermined past efforts here to legitimize the drug. The as-yet unnumbered initiative aiming for November has begun submitting more than 600,000 signatures, far more than the 365,000 needed. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleSan Jose Mercury News article
Valley politics

‘Nazi sign’ dustup enlivens Fresno City Council race — A lively race for the District 6 seat on the Fresno City Council got more heated this week with a verbal dustup between candidates Garry Bredefeld and Holly Carter over Carter’s accusation – which was false – that Bredefeld used Nazi symbolism during a protest when he was a member of the council from 1997 to 2001. Fresno Bee article

Candidate profile: Public safety is Villapudua’s top concern in supervisor race – Miguel Villapudua wants voters in San Joaquin County’s first supervisorial district to know that while he shares familial ties with the incumbent, he is his own person. Stockton Record article

State funds to help San Joaquin County registrar verify signatures — The San Joaquin County’s Registrar of Voters office is receiving additional election funding to help staffers verify signatures on the initiatives proposed for the Nov. 4 ballot. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

State Supreme Court to weigh Gov. Brown’s prison release initiative — California’s highest court is slated to hear arguments Thursday on whether Gov. Jerry Brown may ask voters in November to allow an early release from prison for some who were convicted of nonviolent crimes. LA Times article

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s bill helps his crime initiative quest – “Bribe” may be too strong a word, but a bill that Gov. Jerry Brown signed last week, appropriating $16.3 million for election-related expenses, is certainly a big incentive for county clerks to count signatures on Brown’s crime initiative in time for it to make the Nov. 8 ballot. Walters column in Sacramento Bee
Why you should be extra careful voting for California’s next U.S. senator — Voter information guides are now being mailed by the secretary of state across California ahead of the June 7 primary election.  When you get yours, one thing you’ll notice is a very long list of candidates running for California’s open U.S. Senate seat. KPCC report 

Young Republicans as divided as their elders — There are divisions within the California Republican Party, and nowhere are they more apparent than among the party’s youngest members. Capitol Weekly article


Edgar Reyna: Immigrants must have a greater role in Fresno – The Fresno native writes, “Having observed the Fresno mayoral race as closely as possible while having been abroad during the entirety of the campaign season, asking friends and colleagues to share their insights on several candidates, watching every debate and forum I can find online, it is clear that the candidates have failed to mention how they will represent a large contingent of the city’s population.” Reyna op-ed in Fresno Bee

Other areas

Progressive groups say annual ‘job killer’ list is killing good legislation – A group of progressive organizations is trying to take on the California Chamber of Commerce’s influence at the Capitol.The groups, which include large labor, environmental and social justice organizations like the Service Employees International Union California, California Labor Federation, Sierra Club and Planned Parenthood, said at a Wednesday press conference that the chamber’s annual “job killer” list of legislation opposed by the business lobby has too much influence over lawmakers’ decisions. The groups’ members said they wanted to present a progressive alternative. LA Times article 

California lawmakers kill bills pushed by dissident union members — Dissident public union members left the Capitol unhappy on Wednesday after lawmakers rejected legislation to crack open their unions’ books. Sacramento Bee article

Assembly looks to add concussion rules for youth sports – California’s rules for how junior high and high schools handle concussions in student athletics could soon be extended to other youth sport leagues. A bill passed an Assembly committee Tuesday. Capital Public Radio report

Can California Republicans say yes to Trump? – Fresno resident Jonathan Keller epitomizes the challenge facing presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as he seeks votes in California and beyond: Can Trump attract enough alienated Republicans to win? McClatchy Newspapers article 

Could Donald Trump make a run at California in November election? – So California won’t get a hotly contested presidential primary. Maybe Donald Trump makes things interesting in November? Not likely. Sacramento Bee article

Overnight, California Republicans lose the promise of a competitive primary and high turnout – You can’t say it doesn’t sting. California’s role as the closing prize of the primary campaign season has been sundered by little Indiana, where a sweeping victory handed the title “presumptive Republican nominee” toDonald TrumpLA Times article 

George Skelton: How did Trump become the presumptive nominee? Blame broadcast and social media —  California’s Republican presidential primary will be a dud after all. Fantasizing about playing kingmaker — or crown denier — was fun for a while. But reality reared its head in Indiana. How an insulting, ill-mannered, public policy ignoramus could be chosen by voters to be the presidential nominee of a major party will be pondered for years, probably decades. Skelton column in LA Times 

Hanford Cruz supporter won’t back Trump – For Hanford resident and Ted Cruz supporter Christine Semas, the abrupt suspension Tuesday of Cruz’s presidential campaign was a disappointment, but it doesn’t mean she’ll be supporting Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Far from it. Hanford Sentinel article 

Dan Morain: Reagan Republican turns to Hillary – Republican-red blood runs deep in Doug Elmets’ veins. As a kid, his father, Harry Elmets, taught tennis at a park in Des Moines, Iowa, called Birdland. There, he met another kid nicknamed Dutch, who worked as a lifeguard. In high school, Doug collected campaign buttons, prizes like a rare 1964 Goldwater lapel pin in the shape of Goldwater’s black glasses, and one from Dutch’s 1976 presidential run. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Sanders’ fundraising is slowing just when it needs it most – for California –As Bernie Sanders looks toward California to make a defiant final stand, he is bumping up against a dilemma that his campaign has not had to confront in some time. He is running short on cash. LA Times article 

Debra Saunders: What now? It’s panic time on the right — Some Republicans are swallowing hard and lining up behind Trump. Others are burning their voter registration cards. A few already have declared their support for Clinton. GOP political consultant Kevin Spillane told me he’s bitter GOP voters rewarded Clinton’s “dishonesty and cynicism” by going for Trump. Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle
California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

San Joaquin Valley achieves decades-old ozone standard – Federal and local officials are celebrating as the San Joaquin Valley attained its first ozone standard – albeit one that dates back to the late 1970s and that most of the country achieved by the November 2010 deadline. Fresno Bee article

Empty positions, capital projects eyed for trimming in lean Bakersfield budget proposal – Facing up to falling oil prices and industry layoffs, officials proposed trimming capital projects by nearly $4 million and cutting 14 vacant positions in the new proposed city budget, which debuted at Wednesday’s Bakersfield City Council meeting. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Swearengin, Arambula make pitch for more cap-and-trade dollars – With newly minted Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula by her side and Republican Jim Patterson sitting on the committee, Mayor Ashley Swearengin on Wednesday made her case to state legislators that economically disadvantaged Fresno does not get enough cap-and-trade money from the state. Fresno Bee article

California ponders expanding cap and trade to Brazil — Under a plan state air regulators are considering, industries that emit greenhouse gas pollution in California could form multimillion dollar relationships with indigenous communities like Kuntanawa’s by paying them to preserve trees deep in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil. CALmatters article

‘Brand of the year’ beverage maker opens Kern distribution center – A Los Angeles-based maker of plant-based beverages has expanded its Kern County presence by opening a 52,000-square-foot distribution center employing about 100 people along Lerdo Highway. Bakersfield Californian article 

Report: Tourists spend $153 million in Kings – Travelers in Kings County spent $153 million in 2015, supporting $46 million in local earnings, creating 1,870 local jobs and generating $12 million in local and state tax revenue. Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton Record: Percolating on the waterfront – Downtown is such a key to Stockton’s future. And it’s great to see more regular events popping up in the city’s central core. Stockton Record editorial

Fighting obesity, Oakland puts soda tax on ballot — The Oakland City Council voted unanimously to place a soda tax on the November ballot, a penny-per-ounce revenue stream that could raise up to $12 million per year to aid in efforts to fight obesity. San Francisco Chronicle article

LA sees another sharp rise in homelessness and outdoor tents — Homelessness increased in the last year in the city and county of Los Angeles, leaving nearly 47,000 people in the streets and shelters despite an intensive federal push that slashed the ranks of homeless veterans by nearly a third, according to figures released Wednesday by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. LA Times article 

California exports continue to lag last year’s figures — California export trade continued to lag behind last year’s performance in March. The state’s merchandise exports had a total value of $13.75 billion in March, down 8.2 percent from $14.98 billion a year earlier, according to Wednesday’s report from Beacon Economics, a consulting firm with offices in the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Sacramento Bee article

Modesto eyes steep water rate increases – Modesto is considering raising its water rates by as much as 63 percent over five years to shore up the finances of its water system, which has seen its revenues plummet in the drought, and to pay for infrastructure projects. Modesto Bee article

Malaga district hit with $1 million fine by Valley water board – The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has slapped a fine of more than $1 million on Malaga County Water District for failing to fully implement a federally mandated wastewater pretreatment program and submit reports on wastewater treatment capacity. Fresno Bee article

Give Big Kern raises $173,000, thousands of volunteer hours pledged – The greater Bakersfield community donated more than $173,000 Tuesday during Give Big Kern, a one-day fundraising event that drummed up money for the county’s nonprofit organizations. Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento’s Big Day of Giving did OK despite computer meltdown – It could have been much worse. Sacramento’s Big Day of Giving and 53 similar events throughout the nation experienced potentially disastrous website failures Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article
Budgetel makes partial payment to Modesto – The good news from Tuesday’s Modesto City Council meeting: Representatives of Budgetel Inn & Suites gave the city two cashier’s checks totaling $33,000. The bad news: The motel still owes the city nearly $166,000 in unpaid lodging taxes and penalties stretching over several years. Modesto Bee article

Tribune Publishing rejects Gannett’s $815-million offer to buy the company – Tribune Publishing’s board voted unanimously to reject Gannett‘s $815-million unsolicited offer to buy the owner of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and other major newspapers. LA Times article

Joel Fox: Survey says LA business smiling – for now – In the opinion of many Los Angeles County business operators, taxes, mandated regulatory costs, and housing costs are too high, but despite those attitudes, two-thirds of the business people responding to the newly released Los Angeles County Business Federation (BizFed) survey are optimistic about their business outlook for 2016. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

John Lindt: Taking the pulse of Kings County — At least one Kings County dairy is installing equipment to capture methane emissions.With substantial help from the State of California, they are spending $4.5 million on the technology. Now the state wants more dairies to do the same to fight climate change. Lindt in Hanford Sentinel


Oakdale Irrigation District wins first round in lawsuit over water sales, fallowed land – A judge declined Wednesday to halt the Oakdale Irrigation District’s evolving plan to idle some farmland and sell water not needed for that land. Modesto Bee article 

Dairies dread proposed climate change regulations – Already struggling with rock-bottom milk prices, Valley dairies are bracing for more pain after the California Air Resources Board (CARB) issued a set of proposed new climate change regulations calling for a 75-percent reduction in overall methane emissions from the state’s dairies by 2030. The Business Journal article 

‘It looked really dirty’ – Now, Arvin kids drink clean water in schools – The state estimates that over a million Californians lack access to safe drinking water. After 15 years with arsenic contamination, one small Kern County community took the struggle for clean water into its own hands–in a campaign that could serve as a role model for others. KVPR report

Conservation continues in face of rate hike – News of a drought-related water rate increase proposed for Stockton Municipal Utilities Department customers doesn’t seem to have diminished their desire to conserve. Stockton MUD customers saved 38 percent in March 2016 compared with March 2013, according to new state data, mirroring a trend across California as water conservation efforts improved that month. Stockton Record article 

Growing psyllid problem prompts public meetings — A public meeting will be held today for California Department of Food and Agriculture officials to discuss their plans to spray a northwest Visalianeighborhood for Asian citrus psyllids after two of the insects were found there. Visalia Times-Delta article

El Nino-caused rice shortage could happen this year, lead to higher prices — Add on yet another global effect of El Niño: A global rice shortage could become a reality this year, due to the weather system. Along with the shortage could come tighter rice supplies and higher prices, should a few key factors happen in the next few months. San Francisco Chronicle article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Kern settles David Sal Silva case for $3.4 million – A lawsuit against Kern County involving allegations of wrongful death and excessive force in the death of Bakersfield resident David Sal Silva was settled Wednesday for $3.4 million, according to the law firm of Chain Cohn Stiles. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno arsonist gets 9 years in prison for seriously injuring fire Capt. Pete Dern – A criminal case that made national news a year ago when a bystander’s video showed Fresno fire Capt. Pete Dern falling through a burning roof, followed by his dramatic rescue by fellow firefighters, ended Wednesday when the woman who pleaded no contest to starting the house fire was sentenced to nine years in prison. Fresno Bee article 

Protestors interrupt San Francisco Police Commission meeting — Protesters calling for the firing of San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhrbrought Wednesday’s Police Commission meeting to a standstill, delaying the discussion on proposed changes to the department’s use-of-force policies. San Francisco Chronicle article

Bakersfield Police Department officer crashes into second officer who crashes into third … well, you get the idea — Four Bakersfield Police Department patrol vehicles were damaged Wednesday morning in a bizarre chain-reaction crash when the fourth officer in a line of BPD cars traveling together failed to notice the other three had stopped for a red light.  Bakersfield Californian article


Some UC majors see balance shift toward out-of-state students – Over the past five years, the number of out-of-state and international students in UC Berkeley’s engineering majors surged by 79 percent, while California enrollment fell by 13 percent. Some 350 miles to the south at UCLA, an 18-percent tumble in Californians majoring in engineering offset a 28-percent jump in nonresidents. LA Times article

Kern High School District considers guns on campus – Kern High School District officials are considering allowing certain employees to carry guns on campus, responding to newly enacted legislation that bars concealed carry weapon permit holders from taking firearms on campuses. Bakersfield Californian article (scroll to item)

State moves to make school accountability plans more user-friendly — In response to critiques from a range of sources, the state is moving toward making the Local Control and Accountability Plans that districts are required to draw up more understandable and user-friendly. EdSource article 

Students call for San Diego State president’s resignation — The San Diego State University Muslim Student Association and several other student and off-campus groups this week are asking university President Elliot Hirshman to quit. Hirshman has been under fire for his response to fliers connecting students to “Palestinian terrorists” that were posted on campus last month. KPBS report

Debate erupts in California over curriculum on India’s history — Victors are said to write history. But in California, history is being written by a committee that finds itself at the center of a raging debate over how to tell the story of South Asia as it tries to update textbooks and revise curriculums for grades six and seven. New York Times article


Charlton Bonham: The crucial work of restoring Delta habitat is accelerating – The director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife writes, “As promised a year ago, the state is at work restoring wildlife habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh, with six projects targeted for groundbreaking in 2016.” Bonham op-ed in Sacramento Bee

San Andreas fault ‘locked, loaded and ready to roll’ with big earthquake, experts say — Southern California’s section of the San Andreas fault is “locked, loaded and ready to roll,” a leading earthquake scientist said Wednesday at the National Earthquake Conference in Long Beach. LA Times article 

Costs related to Aliso Canyon leak reach an estimated $665 million — Southern California Gas Co. announced Wednesday that costs related to the leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility have reached an estimated $665 million. LA Times article
Health/Human Services 

Community Medical Centers plans $65 million cancer facility in Clovis – The Community Medical Centers Board of Trustees wants to build a $65 million cancer research and treatment center on the Clovis Community Medical Center campus. Community says the center would be “the first of its kind in the San Joaquin Valley.” Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal articleKVPR report

California’s new aid-in-dying law begins June 9, but it won’t be simple — Starting June 9, terminally ill Californians with six months or less to live can request a doctor’s prescription for medications intended to end their lives peacefully. If that sounds simple, it won’t be. Sacramento Bee article 

Merced County officials offer warning, preventive measures for Zika virus — Merced County officials gave an update on the Zika virus this week, saying there have been no human cases or carrier mosquitoes reported in Merced, but “they’re right on our doorstep.” Merced Sun-Star article

Stanislaus County’s mosquito abatement districts watch for Zika virus signs — Following a winter with El Niño storms, mosquito control districts expect to have a tougher time this year with mosquitoes that spread West Nile virus, and they are watching for any sign of Zika. Modesto Bee article 

California fines Anthem $450,000 for not addressing consumer complaints — In another rebuke by state health officials, Anthem Blue Cross has been fined $415,000 for failing to promptly or completely answer consumer complaints, according to the California Department of Managed Health Care. Sacramento Bee article

Three patients died in suspected Pasadena outbreak tied to scopes – At least three patients died last year at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena in an outbreak suspected to have been caused by tainted medical scopes, according to a newly discovered regulatory report. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Merced planners recommend denying homeless facility — Members of the Merced Planning commission commended the developer of a homeless services project on Wednesday, calling it a “noble cause,” right before they recommended denial of the project. Merced Sun-Star article


Fresno Yosemite International sees record Q1 growth — It’s been a sky-high first quarter for Fresno Yosemite International Airport, which reported 336,482 passengers in the first three months of the year, up 11.3 percent over the same time last year. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Jeff Jardine: The more information out there the better, in missing person cold cases – Ultimately, it takes a combination of thorough investigative work, science and technology, using the media to their advantage and some good, old-fashioned lucky breaks to make a positive ID that allows a family to finally know what it likely feared and presumed long ago. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Hmong history exhibit to open in Merced — Photos, documentaries, hands-on displays and the stories of thousands of Hmong refugees bring life to a free exhibit that opens Saturday in Merced. Merced Sun-Star article

Joe Mathews: Only San Jose stands in the way of San Francisco — Poor San Jose – so far from God, so close to San Francisco. San Jose is the 10th largest city in the United States, the third biggest in California – and No. 1 in disrespect. With more than 1 million people, it’s Northern California’s most populous municipality, but it’s constantly outshined by those 850,000 San Franciscans to its north. Mathews in Sacramento Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Florida doesn’t hold a candle to California, but its governor has a point about the state’s tax system.

Merced Sun-Star  We’ve been hoping that California’s June 7 presidential primary would actually mean something. Alas, at least for Republicans, it wasn’t meant to be.

Modesto Bee – We’ve been hoping that California’s June 7 presidential primary would actually mean something. Alas, at least for Republicans, it wasn’t meant to be.

Sacramento Bee – Hillary Clinton and John Kasich are the best in California primary; Jerry Brown signs tobacco bills, lets us breathe easier.

Stockton Record – Downtown is such a key to Stockton’s future. And it’s great to see more regular events popping up in the city’s central core; Best of the best: Pinnacle winners represent excellence in education.