May 7, 2016


Top stories 

Where in the world are San Joaquin Valley lawmakers traveling? – Foreign travel can be a two-edged sword for San Joaquin Valley lawmakers, who broaden their horizons but may risk criticism if they overdo it. McClatchy Newspapers article

Some California lobbyist employers cranked up spending this year — Trade associations, unions and other lobbyist employers spent more than $74.3 million during the first three months of 2016, recent state filings show, with some groups spending significantly more compared to the same period in the last legislative session. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown

Brown says no to another Assemi transportation commission term — Granville Homes President Darius Assemi, who has served the past 61Ž2 years on the California Transportation Commission, was not reappointed for another term by Gov. Jerry Brown. Fresno Bee article

Jerry Brown’s half true claim about California doubling Florida’s job claims — PolitiFact recently examined a claim by Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private economic development arm, which said California would lose 700,000 jobs due to the wage hike. The national website rated the misleading claim Mostly FalsePolitiFact article

Valley politics

Madera Supervisor Tom Wheeler is backing both Tacherra and Rogers — Burrel dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra and Madera County Supervisor David Rogers are both trying to oust incumbent Fresno Democrat Jim Costa this year in the 16th Congressional District. Their respective websites also prominently list the endorsement of Madera County Supervisor Tom Wheeler. The reason? Wheeler is backing both candidates. At least for now. Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield mayoral candidate profile: Alex Merrill — Alex Merrill, MD, 64, Physician, director/founder, Christian Medical Services. Bakersfield Californian article

Greg Strickland: Running for Kings District 5 supervisor – Greg Strickland has a plan for water and public safety in Kings County, and he wants everyone to know about it. Strickland, 64, Republican running for District 5 Supervisor against incumbent Richard Fagundes, has plans to address the drought and the pay of police and firefighters as his “No. 1 priority.” Hanford Sentinel article

Richard Fagundes: The quiet supervisor — If you like fireworks and a flashy persona, retired farmer and Kings County Supervisor Richard Fagundes may not impress. If you like a quiet representative who rarely speaks during the supervisors’ weekly public meetings and prefers to do his work out of the limelight, he might be your guy on June 7. Fagundes, running for a third term, has represented the mostly rural northeastern part of Kings County (including a slice of eastern Hanford) for eight years on the Kings County Board of Supervisors. Hanford Sentinel article

McCarthy introduces public housing reform bill — Rep. Kevin McCarthy entered the public housing reform arena Friday by proposing legislation that would expand participation in a program letting public housing agencies operate free of various federal regulations. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Bakersfield Californian: U.S. Senate: Vote for Harris or Sanchez on June 7 – Californians deserve a real contest and a vigorous debate of important issues in the November general election. They should vote for either Kamela Harris or Loretta Sanchez in the primary. Bakersfield Californian editorial 

California Politics Podcast: Tobacco’s tough week — California becomes the biggest state in the nation with a smoking age of 21. What will Big Tobacco do? Also, a rundown of the initiatives that look viable for November’s ballot. And adios California presidential primary! With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times and Anthony York of the Grizzly Bear Project. California Politics Podcast

Other areas

Uber and Lyft are winning at the state Capitol – and here’s why – Uber and Lyft seem to be conquering California politics. In just the last month, the ride-hailing giants have secured a string of victories at the Capitol, killing or delaying legislation and regulations they didn’t like and shepherding in new rules favorable to the industry. LA Times article

Hillary Clinton hits Sanders on free college, blasts Trump — Hillary Clinton, campaigning in Oakland three days ahead of the start of mail voting in California, on Friday railed against Republican Donald Trump and re-issued her criticism of Bernie Sanders’ proposal to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

As GOP grapples with Trump, Scott Jones says he’ll support him – Republican Scott Jones, campaigning to unseat Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in a Sacramento County swing district, has confirmed he will vote for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Sacramento Bee article

Vandals leave pro-Trump graffiti at Los Banos High School – Vandals scrawled messages promoting Donald Trump across walls and lockers at Los Banos High School, writing the presidential candidate’s name and slogans such as “Build a Wall” and “Make America Great Again.” Merced Sun-Star article

Trump supporter: Establishment failed me – Hanford resident Kevin Henshaw isn’t afraid to say it: He supports Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican Party nominee for U.S. president, and he makes no apologies in doing so. Hanford Sentinel article

Bernie Sanders may stop in Stockton on Tuesday – Stocktonians will be able to feel the “Bern” on Tuesday, The Record has learned. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is expected to arrive in the state on Monday. He is expected to attend a rally that night in Sacramento and another on Tuesday in Stockton. Stockton Record articleSacramento Bee article

Erika D. Smith: Go vote – and then let’s take a selfie – The ridiculous truth is, even in this age of smartphones and social media, it is still illegal in most states to take a selfie inside of a voting booth. In California, it’s also illegal for voters to shoot photos or videos within 100 feet of a polling place with the intent of dissuading a voter. But with most Americans now carrying devices capable of snapping high-definition photos and sending them around the world in seconds, does it really make sense to continue such bans, especially when violators can be subject to hefty fines and jail time? The obvious answer is no.  Smith column in Sacramento Bee

Kevin Hall: Are seeds of an Irish rebellion being sown in Valley today? – The Fresno resident, air quality advocate and community advocate writes, “Looking around me today, I see parallels between agrarian 19th century Ireland and our 21st century San Joaquin Valley. We have people suffering from hunger, unlivable conditions, undrinkable water and more. Despite our democratic ideals, we have a landed gentry and a growing peasant class. The separation is worsening, the suffering increasing, and the disregard deepening.” Hall op-ed in Fresno Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

Los Banos mayor opposes proposed half-cent transportation tax – A proposal to implement a half-cent sales tax to fund transportation projects in Merced County has won support from several community leaders, but Los Banos Mayor Mike Villalta says he won’t be among them. Merced Sun-Star article

ACLU wins access to 12,000 internal prison documents on California’s plans for lethal injection – A court fight delaying approval of a new method for executing inmates in California ended this week with the release of 12,000 internal prison documents about the state’s plans for lethal injection. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Hiring slowdown in April may signal caution about U.S. economy – American employers signaled their caution about a sluggish economy by slowing their pace of hiring in April after months of robust job growth. At the same time, companies raised pay, and their employees worked more hours — a combination that lifted income and, if sustained, could quicken the U.S. expansion. AP article

Travelers to California spent record $122.5 billion in 2015 — Travelers to California spent a record $122.5 billion in 2015, according to the annual economic report from Visit California, the Sacramento-based nonprofit group that helps develop the state’s tourism marketing programs. Sacramento Bee article

Flat labor demand reflected in only job ads posted in Sacramento, statewide – Generally flat labor demand nationwide was reflected in job vacancies advertised online in Sacramento and statewide last month. Sacramento Bee article

The Numbers Crunch: However you measure it, too many are going hungry – However we slice and dice the numbers, we always have to remember that they represent real people – maybe our neighbors or friends or work colleagues. Completely eliminating hunger and poverty may be too much to ask, but we should do the best we can, or at least better than we are. The Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee

Peeve’s to close for two to three weeks for investors, upgrades — Peeve’s Public House is closing for two to three weeks while the owner brings in investors to beef up the business. Craig Scharton, owner of the popular Fulton Mall eatery and pub, detailed his plans in aFacebook post Friday morning. Fresno Bee article

John Lindt: Building permits up in April, almonds, too — Building permits bounced back in April versus a year ago and a month ago recording 84 new homes, the largest monthly total in quite some time. Counting all types of permits – valuation hit $38.4 million vs $27.7 million in April 2015 and $19 million in March 2016. Total permit value is up 12 percent for the year. The city saw eight new commercial permits valued at $12.6 million in April. Visalia Times-Delta article

Uber comquered taxis. Now it’s going after everything else – There’s no shortage of companies claiming to be the Uber of their industry, whether it’s food delivery, flowers, mattresses or medicinal marijuana. But what happens when the real Uber — the one with a $62.5-billion valuation and a global footprint — decides that it wants to expand into other on-demand markets? LA Times article

Jamba Juice will move headquarters from Bay Area to Texas –  More than 25 years after the first Jamba Juice shop opened in San Luis Obispo, the owner of the smoothie company announced plans to move its headquarters from California to Texas within eight months. LA Times article

MLS soccer stadium wins approval from LA City Council — A plan to construct a $250 million stadium complex for a new Major League Soccer team on the site of the existing Los Angeles Sports Arena won approval from the City Council on Friday. KPCC report

Investment heavyweights buy state office complex — In a deal that reflects institutional enthusiasm for Sacramento’s commercial real estate market, one of the investors in redevelopment around Golden 1 Center has joined with two big partners to acquire a prominent state office building in the downtown area. Sacramento Bee article


Modesto gets far more than a quarter inch of rain – The overcast sky that’s been hanging over Modesto finally unleashed its precipitation, dropping 0.32 inches downtown from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, according to Modesto Irrigation District measurements. Modesto Bee article

Sierra meltdown: What snow we got is going fast – California’s “frozen reservoir” is melting fast. Unusually high temperatures this spring have acted like a blow-drier on accumulated winter snows, despite a healthy boost during the stormy month of March. KQED report

Tough going for new groundwater regulations – A new effort to regulate groundwater extraction in California is running into stiff opposition from water users and local government officials, who say one new law is enough. KQED report

California growers opposed to lemons from Argentina – California citrus officials are fuming over a proposal to allow lemons from Argentina into the United States. Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual in Exeter, said in a statement Friday that the move creates the potential for pests and disease to enter the U.S. Fresno Bee article

Dam gates at Lake Kaweah stop working – The gates releasing water from Lake Kaweah east of Visalia are closed and out of commission due to an equipment failure, the Army Corps of Engineers said Friday. Fresno Bee article

EBMUD may end drought surcharges – Many East Bay water customers may soon see the end of drought financial pain: a 25 percent emergency surcharge on water bills. East Bay Times article

Recycled water project to help West Side reaches milestone – The North Valley Regional Recycled Water Program – in which Modesto and Turlock will send highly treated wastewater to Del Puerto Water District farmers – has reached a major milestone. Modesto Bee article

Dairy farmers can aid blackbirds once again in San Joaquin Valley — Once again, tricolored blackbirds are likely nesting in high concentrations on a few dairy farms. And once again, the federal government will pay farmers to delay harvesting of feed crops where the eggs sit. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

18 Fresno Dog Pound gang members indicted on murder, sex charges – Most of the Dog Pound gang members arrested last month at the conclusion of a massive Fresno gang investigation were indicted this week in federal court. The U.S. Attorney’s Office filed two-dozen federal charges against 18 of the 28 men arrested on April 21. The men are believed to be ringleaders of the notorious Dog Pound gang, which Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer called the largest and most violent African American gang in the city. Fresno Bee article

Autopsy reveals man who died in custody died of meth intoxication – An autopsy of a man who died while in custody determined he died of acute methamphetamine intoxication and his death was an accident, Kern County sheriff’s officials said Friday. Bakersfield Californian article

Mother’s Day event reunites kids, incarcerated parents in Chowchilla – Hugging for the first time in more than a decade, Kelly Sorrell and her 20-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn Mahan, relished every moment Friday during a visit that saw hundreds of family members from across California go to the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla to celebrate Mother’s Day. Merced Sun-Star article

$2 billion bail bond industry threatened by lawsuit against San Francisco – Next week a federal judge in Oakland will hear arguments that money bail, as currently implemented in San Francisco’s jails, violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection ClauseKQED report

Contentious trial begins in 2012 killing of Fresno store clerk – Two Fresno men are on trial on murder allegations nearly four years after a store shopkeeper was killed and a store employee was severely beaten with a pipe. The trial began Friday with prosecutor Sam Dalesandro presenting circumstantial evidence against the two defendants and defense lawyers charging the Fresno Police Department with racial profiling and intimidating witnesses. Fresno Bee article

Kern deputy arrested at courthouse on suspicion of being under the influence of drugs – A 26-year-old Kern County sheriff’s deputy was arrested while working at the downtown courthouse Friday after other deputies determined he was under the influence of drugs, sheriff’s officials said. Bakersfield Californian article

San Francisco hunger strikers go to hospital – camp in Mission is packed up — Five demonstrators who have been refusing to eat until San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr resigns or is fired were taken to the hospital Friday due to “deteriorating health,” supporters said, and their 16-day protest camp outside the Mission Police Station was packed up. San Francisco Chronicle article


Stockton Unified superintendent finalist to be announced Tuesday – The Stockton Unified School District Board of Trustees is expected to announce its finalist for superintendent on Tuesday, bringing in a new face to serve the district’s nearly 38,000 students. Stockton Record article

Visalia Times-Delta Student News: Target transgender bathrooms? — This week, local Tulare County students weighed in on the matter for the latest episode of VTD Student News. Visalia Times-Delta article

After teachers union protest, tensions rise on LA Unified-charter campus — It wasn’t until students at Community Preparatory Academy ran out to the playground on Wednesday morning that their teacher noticed the posters — dozens of signs hanging on the school’s perimeter fence, facing inward so kids and staff could read them. KPCC report


PG&E customers to pay more for gas after San Bruno blast – PG&E customers face the forbidding prospect of higher power bills due to a regulatory proposal Thursday night that would raise rates to improve PG&E’s gas system, under scrutiny after a fatal explosion in San Bruno. East Bay Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Should California’s striped bass be vilified as native-fish killers? – What role the non-native bass – called “stripers” by anglers – have played in the overall decline in Central Valley native fish populations, including Chinook, is an ongoing debate in Washington D.C., and Sacramento. Sacramento Bee article

Storm wallops downtown Fresno evening commute — Heavy rains caused flooding throughout much of downtown Fresno on Friday just as workers were clogging streets and highways for the evening commute. Fresno Bee article

A lost gem? New Mojave Trails monument rules appear to bar rock hunting — President Obama’s proclamation of a new national monument he designated in California’s Mojave Desert has rockhounds worried they are no longer welcome on public lands with a reputation for prime gem and mineral specimens. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Tulare hospital care questioned — Tulare Regional Medical Center claims it has resolved a series of problems cited by inspectors in a report that raised questions about its board of directors and its medical staff, inadequate medical records, its fire alarm system, its infection control program and its kitchen, among other things. Visalia Times-Delta article

Land Use/Housing

Hundreds celebrate opening of new Fresno skate park — Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin yesterday cut the ribbon for a new park in southeast Fresno. And this isn’t just any park. KVPR report

Other areas

The congressman and the marine: A story told – On Friday, U.S. Marine Cpl. Art Gentry and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, sat down in a studio at Bakersfield College’s Grace Van Dyke Bird Library to talk about Gentry’s life and his experiences during what some have called the “Forgotten War.” The 30-minute interview, recorded on video, is part of the Veterans History Project in connection with the American Folklife Center. Bakersfield Californian article

Kern County loses pivotal round in sexual harassment case – A judge has tentatively ruled against Kern County in a lawsuit that claimed former Chief Probation Officer David Kuge retaliated against a clerical worker after she helped his secretary deal with sexual harassment by him. Bakersfield Californian article

Food distribution contains moldy items – For nearly a year, Stockton resident Calsida Sanchez has been going to Kennedy Community Center every Monday and Friday to pick up a variety of donated food. She said the majority of food handed out at the center is good and edible, so it was a shock when she came home Friday morning to find a box of Foster Farms breakfast corndogs she received had gone bad. Stockton Record article

Forum takes a bit out of Tulare County animal control – Within the last year, three vital components of animal control in the county have made significant changes to how services are provided to both pets and pet owners and those without pets. Visalia Times-Delta article

Former Merced Sun-Star publisher, Fresno Bee custom publications director dies — Valerie Bender was a talented and tough journalist who broke barriers and stared down challenges in a 40-year-career that took her from a reporter in Florida to publisher of theMerced Sun-Star.  Fresno Bee article

Popular soccer club eyes training site in Stockton – Imagine if a team as popular as the New York Yankees, Golden State Warriors and Dallas Cowboys held a two- to three-week training camp in Stockton. Oh, the hysteria. Club Deportivo Guadalajara, also known as Chivas, is that team, and there is a chance the second-most popular soccer club in the world will train this year in Stockton. Stockton Record article

Andrew Fiala: David Brooks, Rory Appleton remind us to celebrate generations – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “It’s tough to be young. In a recent column, Rory Appleton asks us to ease up on criticizing youths. He’s right. Rents are rising and job prospects are limited. Political dysfunction, terrorism and ecological disaster haunt the world that our youths will inherit. Meanwhile, we elders gripe and grumble about their music, technology, fashion and work ethic. The older generation can’t – or won’t – understand the culture and attitudes of the young. Nor can we seem to get out of their way. Or keep our mouths shut.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee