November 1, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

CD21: Outside group, DCCC spend for Renteria in closing days of race vs. Valadao – With Tuesday’s election coming fast, an independent group and the Democratic National Campaign Committee are spending money on television commercials for Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria in her 21st Congressional District race against incumbent Republican David Valadao. The 11th-hour spending spree is a sure sign that the race is competitive, Renteria campaign manager Michael Trujillo said.  Fresno Bee article

AD21: California Strategies’ lobbying violation emerges in campaign attack – Last year’s lobbying violations by the high-profile California Strategies public-affairs firm have emerged as a point of attack in the increasingly nasty campaign between Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced and his Republican challenger, Jack Mobley. Sacramento Bee article

Prop 47 puts California at center of a national push for sentencing reform – The statewide initiative on Tuesday’s ballot to reduce penalties for illicit drug use and petty theft is part of a multimillion-dollar campaign to revise sentencing laws in California and across the nation. LA Times article

Gov. Brown

A glimpse into Brown’s 4th term – A little-known panel of Gov. Brown’s top administration officials is poised to play a critical role in his fourth and final term as governor. The Strategic Growth Council, or SGC, is a cabinet-level body with a portfolio that cuts across virtually all aspects of California government. Capitol Weekly article

Valley politics

Merced Sun-Star: Hard-working Jim Costa deserve re-election – He doesn’t have to work so hard – he just does. So, unless you vote by reflex – any Republican over any Democrat – the choice is clear: Jim Costa.  Merced Sun-Star editorial

Fresno Bee: SD14: Chavez’s phony excuse violates public trust – We recommended Luis Chavez to voters because we believed he would better represent the people of the 14th District than Andy Vidak. However, we are highly disappointed in his manufactured explanation for at least one of his school-board absences.  Fresno Bee editorial

Merced County candidates scramble for last-minute votes – The final countdown to Election Day has begun, but the candidates seeking major Merced County offices aren’t getting any rest this weekend. Despite expressing relief to be nearing the finish line of a long season of campaigning, many political contenders will hit the pavement the next few days to grab last-minute votes.  Merced Sun-Star article

Winn gets late contribution from San Joaquin County’s largest labor group – In the race for San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, Ripon Mayor Chuck Winn received a late-in-the-game contribution from the county’s largest labor group.  Stockton Record article

Bakersfield council election profile:  Public safety, jobs are big for Ward 1’s Ramirez – Campaign contribution totals are the highest in the race to represent southeast Ward 1 on the Bakersfield City Council — and the candidates are the youngest. At age 21, the challenger, Bakersfield native Manuel Ramirez, could likely be the youngest candidate ever for Bakersfield City Council, although the Bakersfield City Clerk’s office has never officially tracked the age of competitors.  Bakersfield Californian article

Turning out to vote – Despite a ballot with a number of major issues and high-profile races, Kings County officials are expecting Tuesday’s contest to have lower voter turnout than the past two midterm elections.  Hanford Sentinel article

Delhu Unified trustees escaped censure by board for claims of sexual harassment, misconduct – Two Delhi Unified School District trustees – both up for re-election Tuesday – narrowly escaped being censured by the school board for claims of sexual harassment and leaking confidential information, the Merced Sun-Star has learned. Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

John Myers: Parties shrink, races tighten in final 2014 California voter data – Political parties continue to shrink in California, with voters who state no party preference edging ever closer to being the second-largest subset of the state’s overall electorate.  Myers in KQED

Mailed ballots suggest low turnout in California – California appears on track for another low-turnout election as elections clerks and analysts report that the number of voters mailing in their absentee ballots has declined compared with previous election cycles.  AP article

California governor’s race: Sky-high poverty rate an issue in race between Jerry Brown and Neel Kashkari – In his bid for re-election, Gov. Jerry Brown has taken credit for engineering California’s comeback and spurring the kind of economic growth that helped shrink the state’s jobless rate. But the revival has done little for Racquel Pardo and the other 5.6 million Californians still living below the poverty line.  San Jose Mercury News article

California schools chief race is hot, but will voters find it? – The race for state superintendent of public instruction between incumbent Tom Torlakson and challenger Marshall Tuck is one of the hottest in California this fall – it has drawn $14 million in outside spending – but you may have trouble finding it when it comes time to vote. Sacramento Bee article

Independent money washes over California contests on Tuesday’s ballot – Bankrolled by a small group of major businesses, unions and wealthy individuals, independent spending groups have showered California legislative and statewide campaigns with more than $47 million for mailers, TV ads and other advocacy efforts leading up to Tuesday’s election.  Sacramento Bee article

No rush to judgment for Attorney General Kamala Harris – Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris, California’s top law enforcement officer, had little to say in July when an Orange County federal judge declared the state’s death penalty system unconstitutional. Several weeks later, Harris announced that she would challenge the decision, but her reasoning was curious: The ruling, she said, “undermines important protections that our courts provide to defendants.” That she delayed making her views known — and then used a liberal justification to explain a response sought by conservatives — has fueled a perception that Harris is reluctant to stake out positions on controversial issues.  LA Times article

California secretary of state race devoid of usual rancor – Without the name-calling and mudslinging all too common in California politics, Democrat Alex Padilla and Republican Pete Peterson are challenging voters to instead look at the issues and use them to decide who is the best choice for secretary of state.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Money talks: Props 45, 46 down sharply – In the face of $150 million in opposition spending, two ballot measures to regulate health insurance insurance rates, require drug testing for doctors and ease caps on medical malpractice awards have declined sharply in popular support, according to the final Field Poll of this year’s election.  Capitol Weekly article

Scott Sturman: Prop 46 won’t make us safer – The Fresno doctor writes, “No one disputes the grief suffered by the Pack family, but in these incidences, it is all too easy to cloud the real problem and its solution by resorting to emotional arguments.” Sturman op-ed in Fresno Bee

True, misleading or outright lie: A guide to The Bee’s adwatches – The Sacramento Bee has tested the truth of television, radio and mailer ads in a handful of statewide and Sacramento-area political races on Tuesday’s ballot. Here is a compilation of the analyses, including ratings.  Sacramento Bee article


Fresno supervisors to decide fate of health care for undocumented – After months of uncertainty, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors will decide on Tuesday the future of health care for its undocumented community. The board has two options. They can accept or reject a deal from the state to defer the county’s payment of $5.5 million for road funds in exchange of continuing to provide specialty care for the medically indigent.  KVPR report

Other areas

Former state Sen. Rod Wright’s jail term end quickly – Former Democratic state Sen. Roderick D. Wright showed up late Friday to begin serving a 90-day jail sentence but was released almost immediately due to jail crowding, a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman said.  LA Times articleCapitol Alert

Bera campaign raises ghost of Gingrich to spook voters – In an email Friday with the subject line “Boo!,” Rep. Ami Bera’s campaign says it finds former Rep. Doug Ose’s record “the scariest thing around this Halloween for Sacramento County women.”  Capitol Alert

Joe Biden visits Southern California to help Democrats win in tight races – Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Southern California on Friday to help Democrats in tight races as the campaign season headed into the final weekend before Tuesday’s election.  LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

New research predicts California droughts will worsen – Future droughts in California are likely to bite deeper and last longer than the one now gripping the state, according to new research into the potential effects of climate change.  Sacramento Bee article

17,000 jobs now projected for West Side development at Crows Landing air base – Stanislaus County does project 17,000 jobs for western Stanislaus County if the property is developed with a general aviation airport and 10 million square feet of building space.   Modesto Bee article

Kings high-speed rail opponents: ‘It’s far from over’ – Don’t pop the champagne prematurely, according to members of the Hanford opposition group Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability. They say there are plenty of tough legal battles ahead that still throw big question marks at the proposal.  Hanford Sentinel article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno, Valley in line for greenhouse-gas funding – State leaders announced Friday that more than $200 million in greenhouse gases cap-and-trade money would be invested in the census tracts of California’s most disadvantaged communities — about 20% of which are in the San Joaquin Valley.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Ruling doesn’t change state’s pension crisis – There can be no denying that CalPERS and cities across California still face a huge pension problem.Sacramento Bee editorial

Bakersfield rental market remain tight – The upshot of Bakersfield’s rental market these days is “slow and steady,” which is good for both investors and renters. Compared with neighboring communities, Bakersfield rental properties are affordable to buy into, there’s high demand and rents are reachable for the average person. Bakersfield Californian article

More jobs cut at American Medical Response – American Medical Response also will eliminate the call center and customer service jobs at a regional billing center in Salida, according to a company statement Thursday.  Modesto Bee article

Virgin Galactic spacecraft for tourists explodes during test flight – A winged spaceship designed to take tourists on excursions beyond Earth’s atmosphere exploded during a test flight Friday over the Mojave Desert, killing a pilot in the second fiery setback for commercial space travel in less than a week.  AP articleBakersfield Californian articleLA Times article

SpaceShipTwo disaster:  Elected officials express sorrow, encourage industry – Kern County legislators were quick to release statements offering their condolences Friday afternoon after the explosion of SpaceShipTwo. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent prayers to the pilots and their families. Bakersfield Californian article

As housing market recovers, roadblocks remain – Despite median home prices and sales of homes in the Central Valley increasing since the recession, industry experts warn that many obstacles still remain for homebuyers.  The Business Journal article

Merced gas prices drop, giving drivers some relief – A long line of cars circled a Merced gas station Thursday as residents took advantage of filling up at less than $3 a gallon. The downward trend of gas prices started in late 2013, but experts say the price at the pump will continue to drop. And Mercedians are definitely taking notice.  Merced Sun-Star article

San Diego local economy has best month of 2014 – Diverse job growth and gains in consumer confidence boosted San Diego’s economy to its best month in almost two years, says a report released Friday by the University of San Diego.  U-T San Diego article

Report says 60,000 veterans get triple benefits – Nearly 60,000 veterans were triple dippers last year, drawing a total of $3.5 billion in military retirement pay plus veterans and Social Security disability benefits at the same time, congressional auditors report. It’s all legal. AP article

Lyles Center partners for entrepreneurial program – Entrepreneurs in the Central Valley will soon get additional support through a new program started up between the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fresno State and Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence.  The Business Journal article


Merced Halloween marked by showers – As of 7:30 a.m. Saturday, during the past 12 hours the Merced area received about .86 inches of rain, according to measurements taken at the Merced Airport.  Merced Sun-Star article

State water officials say junior water-rights holders can divert until Monday – With a storm poised to hit California, state water officials this morning announced that Central Valley junior water-right holders will temporarily be allowed to divert water until 7 a.m. Monday.  Stockton Record article

Patt Morrison: A brief history of drought in California – Sure, it’s an easy phrase to bandy about — “historic drought.” But what, exactly, does it mean? Historic, like the Dodgers 1988 World Series win? Or historic, like the drought that up-ended California’s economy in the midst of the Civil War?  Morrison in KPCC

Tulare County adds a tool to fight ag theft – To help crack down on the flow of illegally harvested nuts, Tulare County created tougher regulations two years ago that requires the name, driver’s license number, address, telephone number and signature of the seller and similar information for the buyer. The date and time of the transaction must also be provided as well as the common or generic name of the nuts.  Fresno Bee article

Central San Joaquin Valley cotton harvest nears completion – The central San Joaquin Valley cotton harvest is about 80% complete, industry officials said this week. The Valley grows several varieties, including the long-fiber pima cotton that is harvested later in the season.  Fresno Bee article

Farm Beat: Fertilizer experts aim to protect water, air – Nitrogen in one form helps crops grow. In another, it can pollute drinking water, and in still another, it can change the climate. That was the basic message at a statewide conference in Modesto on fertilizer use on farms. Experts at the two-day event, which ended Thursday, shared recent research on how to enrich the soil in ways that do not harm other resources.  Modesto Bee article

UC Davis fires back in strawberry controversy, sues growers’ group – The legal fight between UC Davis and the California strawberry industry is escalating, even as both sides insist they want to patch up an 80-year-old relationship that’s enriched the university and given farmers a bounty of new strawberry varieties.  Sacramento Bee article

Dairy organizations weigh in on raw milk sales – Two large dairy industry trade groups have voiced opposition to rule changes which, they claim, could encourage consumers to pursue buying raw, unpasteurized milk direct from the farm.  AP article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

15 charged with felonies in Chukchansi Gold casino armed confrontation – Fifteen people involved in the Oct. 9 armed confrontation at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino have been charged with multiple felonies, Madera County District Attorney Michael Keitz announced Friday.  Fresno Bee article

Madera County starts work on new sheriff’s headquarters – Work is underway for a new Madera County Sheriff’s Office headquarters — an upgrade lauded as moving the department forward by “leaps and bounds.”  Fresno Bee article

Source: Taft football allegations were retaliation, not hazing – The incidents at Taft Union High School that resulted in eight arrests of varsity football players on misdemeanor charges were not a hazing situation, a source familiar with the investigation confirmed.  Bakersfield Californian article


State lawmakers say rising school superintendent pay must be addressed – State lawmakers said they were shocked to learn how much school superintendents in California are being paid and how auxiliary benefits such as district-financed home loans are becoming increasingly popular.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Parents tackle Common Core math at Robertson Road Elementary – Grandmother Linda Reyes picked up a stick of 10 snapped-together widgets, broke them apart and dropped the bright yellow bits into the ones box on her subtraction page. “Borrowing” has changed since her day, she said.  Modesto Bee article

Modesto High teens tally up toxic trash – Modesto High School students counted something frightening on Halloween: thousands of cigarette butts collected from area parks. Students have collected more than 64,000 cigarette butts around Stanislaus County, part of an effort to have fewer teens become ghosts before their time.  Modesto Bee article

A $1.3 billion question: What’s the future of LA Unified’s iPad program? – This time last year, students in Los Angeles were squealing with delight as boxes of new iPads rolled into their schools. It was the first phase of what was touted as the largest technology expansion in the country. The program has run into a host of problems since then, leading to this month’s resignation of its biggest advocate, Superintendent John Deasy. Which leaves the question: Does this mark the end of the effort?  NPR report

UCLA faculty approves diversity class requirement – The faculty of UCLA’s largest academic unit voted by a narrow margin to require future undergraduates to take a course on ethnic, cultural, religious or gender diversity. The move came after three previous efforts had failed.  LA Times article


Statewide ban on plastic grocery bags has broad support, poll shows – A statewide ban on plastic grocery bags has broad support among voters, presenting a challenge for industry groups that hope to overturn the law, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll.  LA Times article

Painted faces at parks need painstaking removal – A series of graffiti-like paintings on rocks in National Parks across the West set off a furor on social media this month, angering people who say they desecrated some of the nation’s most famously picturesque landscapes. They’ve also created a headache for park managers who have the delicate task of cleaning up the sites without causing further damage.  AP article

The delta hardly a delta anymore – The Delta is no longer really a delta — or at least, it doesn’t function like one, scientists conclude in a new report.  Stockton Record article

UN panel adopts landmark climate report – The United Nations’ expert panel on climate science on Saturday finished a report on global warming that the UN’s environment agency said offers “conclusive evidence” that humans are altering the Earth’s climate system.  AP article

Kern officials say evacuated homes are safe, despite incomplete testing – Kern County officials said Friday that lifting the mandatory evacuation on eight Arvin homes was the right thing to do, even though testing for toxins has yet to be completed.  Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare County schools going solar – One by one, school districts across Tulare County are lowering their electric bills by going solar. The Visalia Unified School district shifted to solar power last year and Tulare City School District around the Thanksgiving holiday will begin installing solar panels at its 15 elementary and middle school campuses.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Melinda Morales: How healthy are our parks and forests – Prompted by a plea from Sierra County officials, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors decided last month to send a “letter of concern” to the heads of four federal agencies about the management of national parks and forests in the county and to suggest ways to improve their overall health.  Morales in Visalia Times-Delta

Health/Human Services

These scientific studies show that airport Ebola screenings are largely ineffective – The debate over whether the Obama administration should ban flights from Ebola-stricken nations has been raging for weeks, fueled by fears of an outbreak in the United States and a lot of election-inspired finger pointing.  Washington Post article

Valley residents who went to Ebola-stricken countries express compassion, love – Central San Joaquin Valley residents who have gone to West African countries stricken by the Ebola share affection and concern for the people who live there.  Fresno Bee article

Danielle Shapazian: Ebola: Human body has the upper hand – The nurse and writer who lives in Fresno writes, “When it comes to this effort, we will erase political lines, we will ignore payment sources, we will blind ourselves to socioeconomic strata. In many instances, we will risk our own personal well-being for the life of another. In other words, we will do what is right until we beat this beast.” Shapazian op-ed in Fresno Bee

Second West Nile virus death suspected in San Diego County – A second person has died in San Diego County from suspected West Nile virus as the state continues to suffer its worst outbreak of the mosquito-spread brain infection in nearly a decade.  LA Times article

Other Areas

Modesto red-light cameras will remain off – Drivers who run a red light at a Modesto intersection with a red-light camera still don’t have to worry about getting a citation in the mail. The Police Department has decided to keep the red-light camera program on hiatus as it continues to talk with the camera provider – Redflex Traffic Systems – about paying less for the cameras under a new contract.  Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We recommended Luis Chavez to voters because we believed he would better represent the people of the 14th District than Andy Vidak. However, we arehighly disappointed in his manufactured explanation for at least one of his school-board absences; Thumbs up, thumbs dow.

Merced Sun-Star – He doesn’t have to work so hard – he just does. So, unless you vote by reflex – any Republican over any Democrat – the choice is clear: Jim Costa.

Modesto Bee – Our views: Brown’s visit a sign we’re on the right path, a salute to veterans and Honor Flights, and a good decision by Modesto council on streetlights; Pit bulls can be deadly – hold owners accountable; Get serious about voting on Election Day, or let others decide for you.

Sacramento Bee – There can be no denying that CalPERS and cities across California still face a huge pension problem; Rights, responsibilities and reassurance on Ebola.