November 1, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

CD 10: Conservative group spends $3.5 million on Central Valley race once considered safe — The Congressional Leadership Fund is pouring another $1.5 million into the race between Rep. Jeff Denham and Democrat farmer Michael Eggman.  LA Times article (scroll to item)

The tobacco tax campaign has reached $106 million.  But this time something’s different — Unlike those previous failed campaigns, proponents of this tobacco tax hike have done a lot more to match the industry’s dollars. The more than $32 million raised so far by the Yes on 56 campaign nearly doubles supporters’ prior highest total and narrows a once overwhelming spending gap. LA Times article

Gov. Brown

FBI director’s Clinton email announcement ‘dumb,’ Jerry Brown says — Wading into the presidential race Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown accused FBI Director James Comey of a gross violation of professional responsibility when he informed federal lawmakers, less than two weeks before the election, about newly discovered email that appear pertinent to a past probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server. Sacramento Bee article

Anne Gust Brown for attorney general? She’s got a job, Jerry says — Jerry Brown’s answer to a question about “buzz” he might appoint her was curt: “My wife is fully employed.” Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown, Tom Hayden had uneasy relationship — When Tom Hayden, the onetime antiwar radical who later became a fairly conventional California politician, died last month, there was a great outpouring of laudatory statements from pundits and politicians. One of the tersest, and least effusive, came from Gov. Jerry Brown. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

AD 12: Outside spenders trying to help Flora by swamping Vogel – Big money from outside donors is flowing into the 12th Assembly District race between two Republicans, but such independent expenditures are benefiting only one of them: Heath Flora. Modesto Bee article

Former Fresno Mayor Autry says he’s staying neutral in Brand-Perea clash for his old post — It sure seems like Alan Autry is backing Lee Brand to be Fresno’s next mayor, a post Autry held from 2001 through 2008. After all, last week Autry spoke at a Brand-organized news conference in which Brand pitched a five-point plan to address local crime that he would enact if he’s elected mayor. Autry would be a key part of the plan as point man for a ballot initiative push that, if successful, would require the state to return 5 percent of income tax revenue to local governments for public safety. But at the podium, Autry stressed that he’s staying neutral in the race. Fresno Bee article

Candidate says real estate interests could have too much power in Atwater – The five-seat Atwater City Council could potentially have three members connected to real estate after the Nov. 8 election, but most of the candidates say it’s nothing to worry about. Merced Sun-Star article

Clovis Unified incumbents won’t attend election debate — The League of Women Voters is hosting a forum for Clovis Unified school board candidates on Tuesday, but none of the incumbents will be in attendance. Fresno Bee article

Modesto Bee: Nascimento, Esquer will make principled decisions for Turlock — Over the next four years, difficult decisions on downtown and development await the Turlock City Council. We will be a lot more comfortable if people like Steven Nascimento and Gil Esquer are making those decisions. Modesto Bee editorial

Merced Sun-Star: Electing Murphy also keep Pedrozo – For awhile, Merced can have its cake and eat it, too – but only by electing Mike Murphy mayor. Merced Sun-Star editorial

Merced College board of trustees candidates – The Merced Sun-Stars questions candidates for the Merced College board of trustees.  Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

‘Pee on 53’ – Brown invokes Sutter against measure on Delta tunnels — Brown, now campaigning heavily against Proposition 53, a ballot initiative funded by wealthy Stockton-area farmer Dean Cortopassi that could imperil the governor’s high-speed rail and Delta water tunnel projects, told a breakfast audience that he’s again consulted Sutter, who since coming home from the vet hospital has gotten “frisky.” Sacramento Bee article

This man is bankrolling a California ballot measure to force voter approval on big bonds. Would that kill projects like high-speed rail? — Dean Cortopassi makes no apologies for it: He’s angry about government debt. And his anger explains why he was willing to go it alone and bankroll the effort to place Proposition 53 on the Nov. 8 ballot. LA Times article

Mark Sutton and Joe Hernandez: Valley school districts need your ‘yes’ vote on Prop 51 – Sutton, superintendent of the Central Unified School District, and Hernandez, superintendent of the Dinuba Unified School District, write, “Proposition 51 extends a highly successful program that allows local schools to partner with the state of California to receive matching state grant funds to update and repair older school buildings, and to build new classrooms where needed. For our Valley school districts – Sanger Unified, Central Unified, and Dinuba Unified – the need for Proposition 51 could not be more urgent.” Sutton/Hernandez op-ed in Fresno Bee

Nov. 8: The Democrats’ case for a supermajority — Asked about the prospect of a Democratic supermajority in the California Legislature after Nov. 8, leaders of both parties are being, well, supercautious. With a Democratic supermajority, which means majorities of two-thirds or greater in each house, Republicans could go from marginalized to irrelevant. Capitol Weekly article

Some propositions may not go into effect right after election day – Banning plastic bags, legalizing recreational marijuana and restricting the sale of ammunition are all ballot measures in this year’s election. These changes could all take place in California if voters approve them on Nov. 8. But how fast would they go into effect? Capital Public Radio report

A quick guide to California’s U.S. Senate race between Loretta Sanchez and Kamala Harris – Other than the presidency, perhaps the most consequential race facing Californians Nov. 8 is the U.S. Senate contest between Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, of Orange. They are seeking to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is retiring. There are no term limits in the U.S. Senate – last time Californians selected a new senator was in 1992. Sacramento Bee article

The selfie of your vote you just posted on Facebook is actually illegal — Feel free to tell your friends whether you’re voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump this election – just don’t do it by posting a picture of your ballot on social media. Though the age of Instagram has made doing your civic duty more shareable than ever, the phenomenon known best by the misnomer “ballot selfie” is not actually legal yet in California. Sacramento Bee article

From maverick AIDS activist to porn police? The man behind Prop 60 — The man behind Proposition 60 — and all those billboards — is Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and a longtime maverick in gay activist circles. KQED report

Other areas

How a high school dropout fought her way to the pinnacle of California politics — She was a church girl with a foul mouth and a high school dropout who graduated from UC Berkeley in two years with honors. She’s also a celebrated civil rights leader long accused of leveraging her role as president of the California NAACP to line her pockets. One thing is clear: Alice Huffman never backs down from a fight. Sacramento Bee article

Big bucks in Bay Area battles over soda tax point to national stakes — What difference can a city tax make of 1 cent per ounce on distributors of sugary drinks? Plenty, if you look at the flood of money going into two Bay Area ballot measures proposing that tax. KQED report

Presidential Politics

Clinton’s immigration plan could help economy more than Trump’s, most economists say — By Moody’s calculations, Hillary Clinton’s more open-door position on immigration — including a pathway to citizenship for those already in the country illegally and increasing legal immigration — would add about a quarter of a percentage point to gross domestic product growth annually, on average, over the next decade. That translates to an additional $489 billion to the economy by 2026. LA Times article

Silicon Valley MC king Peter Thiel: ‘What Trump represents isn’t crazy and it’s not going away’ — Celebrated Silicon Valley contrarian and powerhouse venture capitalist Peter Thiel on Monday spoke out to explain his support for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, an endorsement that has left many in the tech world bewildered and even angry. San Jose Mercury News articleLA Times article

Foon Rhee: Clinton is the safe bet, in more ways than one — There’s too much at stake to gamble on Trump. For all her faults – including her email stupidity and the uncertainty of the FBI probe – Clinton is still the much safer bet. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Did Hillary Clinton leave classified document in Chinese hotel room? Devin Nunes wants to know – Tulare Republican Devin Nunes, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on Monday sent FBI Director James Comey a letter seeking more information on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Fresno Bee article

Donald Trump used legally dubious method to avoid paying taxes — Newly obtained documents show that in the early 1990s, as he scrambled to stave off financial ruin, Mr. Trump avoided reporting hundreds of millions of dollars in taxable income by using a tax avoidance maneuver so legally dubious his own lawyers advised him that the Internal Revenue Service would most likely declare it improper if he were audited. New York Times article

Orange County, long the GOP’s crown jewel, stands on the verge of turning blue –  It was the home of Richard Nixon, the cradle of Ronald Reagan’s career and, for decades, a virtual synonym for the Republican Party of California. Now, for the first time since the Depression, Orange County stands on the verge of choosing a Democrat for president, potentially ending the longest streak of Republican presidential victories of any county in the state. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

Latinas will earn $1 million less than white men over 40-year career – 

Latinas are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and make up a tiny fraction of America’s high-earning labor pool. But Latinas in all sectors of the workforce earn significantly less than their white male counterparts over the course of their careers. A new analysis by the National Women’s Law Center and the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement says the typical Latina will earn $1 million less than their white male counterpart over a 40-year career. McClatchy Newspapers article

Valley Children’s specialty care center planned in north Modesto – Calling it a major investment in the patients and families it serves in Modesto, Valley Children’s said the first phase will encompass 36,000 square feet and offer outpatient services in 11 medical specialties, including pediatric cardiology, endocrinology, metabolic genetics, neurology and urology. The $25 million center could open in summer 2018. Modesto Bee article

Fresno County deputy dies in accidental shooting near Fresno airport — A Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy died Monday after he was accidentally shot at a business park near the Fresno Yosemite International Airport in east-central Fresno, sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said. Fresno Bee articleLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

California National Guard can’t find 4,000 troops facing bills for bonuses – Thousands of California National Guard veterans are getting bills demanding that they repay illegal enlistment bonuses they received during the height of the Iraq War, but they’re not responding to letters offering them a break. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Every member of California’s state senate signs a letter asking Congress to asking Congress to stop the National Guard paybacks — In a rare show of unanimity, every member of the California Senate signed a letter on Monday asking Congress to permanently waive any repayment of bonuses offered to the state’s National Guard members for Iraq war reenlistment. LA Times article

Judge invalidates part of Bakersfield’s repayment plans for Centennial Corridor – A Fresno appellate court on Monday ruled that the City of Bakersfield cannot use state gas tax revenue to repay part of an estimated $170 million to $200 million it intends to borrow to build the Centennial Corridor, potentially jeopardizing the project’s financing. Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto eyes spending $267,707 to spy on graffiti scofflaws – The City Council on Tuesday will consider approving a $267,707 agreement with Virginia-based CelPlan Technologies for providing and installing 28 graffiti surveillance cameras at water and wastewater facilities, such as water tanks, and at the new Highway 99 interchange at Pelandale Avenue. Modesto Bee article

STAND making a bid for south Stockton site – A nonprofit organization devoted to southeast Stockton’s renovation wants to buy the former New Grand Save Market site on Airport Way for nearly $1 million. Stockton Record article

‘Pit stop’ toilets for homeless cost $11 a flush.  Is it worth it? – About 90 people a day use a new staffed, portable restroom set up in June near Sacramento’s largest homeless services center. The idea is to reduced outdoor human waste while giving homeless residents a bit more dignity. But the restroom has cost the city about $1,000 a day, nearly 75 percent higher than the initial estimated cost for the project, according to a new city report. Sacramento Bee article

San Joaquin County supervisors to hold evening study session on economic outlook – The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors will host its fourth evening study session on Wednesday, this time with a focus on the region’s economic outlook. Stockton Record article

California’s electric-car rebates jump for lower-income buyers and vanish for more high earners —  In an effort to boost the sale of low-emissions vehicles, California is again tweaking its rebate program for buyers of all-electric, plug-in hybrid and fuel-cell cars. Starting Tuesday, high-income earners are excluded from getting the rebates and prospective buyers from lower-income households will get more money under the state’s Clean Vehicle Rebate ProjectLA Times article

Louie Kee Market, a Fresno institution for 93 years, closes its doors for the last time – Monday was the final day for Louie Kee Market, a southwest Fresno institution for 93 years. The market at 1041 Tulare St. shut its doors for the last time. The Louie family, owners of the market, said they enjoyed their long run, but 88-year-old family patriarch Sherman Louie was ready to retire. Fresno Bee article

McDonald’s agrees to $3.75 million deal with California workers – McDonald’s has agreed to pay $3.75 million to settle a federal lawsuit that sought to hold the company liable for allegations that a franchise owner in the San Francisco Bay Area cheated hundreds of workers out of wages and overtime. AP article

Fresno’s Premier Valley Bank merges with Founders in San Luis Obispo – Premier Valley Bank of Fresno and Founders Community Bank of San Luis Obispo announced Monday that their parent companies agreed to a merger valued at about $29 million. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Citibank prepares to close three Valley branches – Citibank has filed notices with federal regulators for the closing of two branch offices in Fresno County and one in Merced early next year. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Why is Jackson Rancheria casino tribe buying a newspaper? — The Indian tribe that owns the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort has entered the newspaper business, buying the main paper in Amador County in a move that strengthens the tribe’s influence in the largely rural community. Sacramento Bee article

If you’re black or female, Uber is more likely to overcharge or cancel your ride, study says — The study, conducted in Seattle and Boston, found riders with black-sounding names were more than twice as likely to have a driver cancel on them than people with white-sounding names. Uber drivers can see their riders’ names but not pictures. That rate increased in areas that didn’t have a large amount of Uber or Lyft drivers on the road. McClatchy Newspapers article

Soft skills gap in healthcare industry prompts new training toolkit – Sizeable shifts in the health care industry have created an education gap in the “soft skills” training that all healthcare employees need to meet industry expectations. California Economic Summit report

Jeff Jardine: Threat of closure has Modesto VFW Post 3199 seeking reinforcements — Just seven years ago, members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3199 showed off their newly renovated building and a new flagpole on Hatch Road along the Tuolumne River southwest of Modesto. Just days ago, the post got a reprieve from shutting its doors. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

West Coast dockworkers and shippers set to discuss contract extension — Talks start Tuesday to extend the labor peace that ended a major dispute between tens of thousands of West Coast dockworkers and their shipping company employers. KQED report


Reservoir levels rise in California with record October rainfall – Rains have drenched Northern California, where most of the state’s largest reservoirs are located. The state had the second wettest October since the Department began keeping records in 1921. Capital Public Radio report

Study blames low 2015 Western snowpack on high temperatures — The western United States set records for low winter snowpack levels in 2015, and a new report blames high temperatures rather than low precipitation levels, according to a new study. AP article

Watering restricted to once a week in Modesto, Turlock – With the lower temperatures and shorter days of fall, the city of Turlock has reduced residential watering to once a week. Modesto Bee article

‘The Blob’ is back: What warm ocean mass means for weather, wildlife — The blob is back. Since 2014, a mass of unusually warm water has hovered and swelled in the Pacific Ocean off the West Coast of North America, playing havoc with marine wildlife, water quality and the regional weather. KQED report

Desalination: Why tapping seawater has slowed to a trickle in California — Once thought to be the wave of the future, turning seawater into drinking water is proving to be a tough sell in California. KQED report

Farm workers sickened by pesticide to receive restitution — Owners of a West Sacramento farm will pay $23,565 in costs, penalties and restitution after spraying farm workers with pesticides, Yolo County District Attorney Jeff Reisig announced Monday. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Why is Fresno County’s domestic violence rate so high? – October is domestic violence awareness month, a time police and advocates have set aside to highlight how common intimate partner violence is and encourage people to seek help. It’s acutely problematic in Fresno County, where authorities receive a shockingly high number of calls reporting domestic violence. That left our news team wondering: Why? KVPR report

San Joaquin County sheriff’s ranks swell with new hires — Two new deputy sheriffs were sworn in to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office during a public ceremony Monday at the sheriff’s French Camp headquarters. Also joining the department was one new animal services officer and a sheriff’s cadet. Stockton Record article

Sacramento plan would provide video, expand civilian review of police shootings — Responding to two fatal officer-involved shootings this year that have drawn questions from community leaders, the Sacramento City Council on Tuesday will consider strengthening civilian oversight of the Police Department and providing greater public access to incident video. Sacramento Bee article


State Board gets to hit refresh button with more control over federal funding —  For the first time in more than a decade, the California State Board of Education has the power to reshape how school districts spend about $2.5 billion in federal aid, including about $200 million it can use at its discretion. EdSource article

Vida en el Valle: UC Merced is coming of age – What other UC can brag that it had the First Lady of the United States – in this case, Michelle Obama in 2009 – give the graduation address to the first group of undergraduates who started when the campus opened? UC Merced has been recognized for its research on climate change, solar energy and drone technology. Congratulations to UC Merced on its deserved recognition. Vida en el Valle opinion

Testing company faces fines in California for second year — After it was fined $3.1 million last year for not fulfilling its contract, the company that administers the state’s standardized tests is again facing penalties for failing to meet all requirements of its contract with the state. EdSource article

African-American boys less likely to be suspended if teacher is black, research reports — African-American boys in elementary school are less likely to be suspended or expelled if they have a teacher who is black, a study released Tuesday suggests. EdSource article

Jury awards ousted Bakersfield College wrestling coach nearly $13,000 – A Kern County jury awarded former Bakersfield College wrestling and golf coach Bill Kalivas nearly $13,000 in damages from a civil lawsuit he filed after he was informed in 2014 by BC athletics director Sandi Taylor that he was not being retained as wrestling coach. Bakersfield Californian article

South High coach remembered for more than basketball accolades — Brian Carter’s passion for basketball, evident from an early age, carried him all the way to a job as South High School’s head varsity coach a decade ago, but friends say in the classroom he was a dedicated special education teacher. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno State recognizes Community Heroes in Health, Human Services — The College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State will honor nine people for their contributions to the community during the sixth annual Community Heroes Awards on Wednesday, the university said. Fresno Bee article

Historic Vernalis school readying kids for life — Bars of scented soaps, clever aprons and aromatic wraps are not your typical textbooks, but they are teaching plenty to young adults with special needs at a repurposed school with deep community connections. Modesto Bee article


Fireplace rules kick in today – Fresh off Stockton’s wettest October in a decade, annual fireplace burning restrictions go into effect today across the San Joaquin Valley. Stockton Record article

Southern California’s deadliest quake may have been caused by oil drilling, study says – A new study suggests that the 1933 Long Beach earthquake, the deadliest seismic event in recorded Southern California history, may have been caused by deep drilling in an oil field in Huntington Beach. LA Times article

Bill Redmond: What homeowners should know about the PACE clean energy program – The president of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors writes, “What drawbacks could there possibly be with a government-sponsored program to enable homeowners in Kern County to reduce their utility bills while helping to save the environment? Plenty.” Redmond op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

New species of leggy millipede with four penises discovered in Sequoia National Park — A new species of millipede with hundreds of legs and four penises has been discovered in Sequoia National Park. The discovery was made in 2006 by scientist Jean Krejca, a member of a research team that found and cataloged several cave-adapted species in the park over a period of years. Fresno Bee articleHanford Sentinel article

Health/Human Services 

Why Covered California’s rate hikes are lower than the rest of the U.S. – Starting Tuesday, Nov. 1, through Jan. 31, Californians who don’t have employer-based health insurance or Medicare can sign up for health insurance through the state’s marketplace, Covered California. That’s the easy news. Sacramento Bee article

Number of Merced County women getting prenatal care worst in Valley, study shows – Expectant mothers in Merced County are among the least likely in California to have regular prenatal care, largely because of the area’s shortage of providers, according to health care reports and experts. Merced Sun-Star article

California set to take closer look at violence as public health issue – California officials are hoping to learn how to better prevent violent deaths by compiling and analyzing data. California Health Report article

Daniel Weintraub: What matters more to your health than the fate of Obamacare – groundbreaking poll of Californians released last week may provide the clearest evidence to date of the link between living conditions and health. The survey also shows how health and wealth, ethnicity and geography are all connected. Weintraub in Sacramento Bee

Number of uninsured kids in California drops 55 percent in 2 years – Between 2013 and 2015, the U.S. experienced the largest two-year decline in the number of uninsured children ever recorded. And the state of California led the way. KPBS report

Does the soda industry manipulate research on sugary drinks’ health effects? – One hundred percent. That is the probability that a published study that finds no link between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and poorer metabolic health was underwritten by the makers of sugar-sweetened beverages, or authored by researchers with financial ties to that industry. LA Times article

Kern County public health orders frozen strawberry recall – Frozen strawberries that could be contaminated with Hepatitis A have been recalled by the Kern County Public Health Department, which said Monday the berries have been served in at least three Kern County institutional settings over the past three months. Bakersfield Californian article

Americans blame obesity on willpower, despite evidence it’s genetic – Americans believe that obesity is the biggest health threat in the nation today — bigger even than cancer. But though scientific research shows that diet and exercise are insufficient solutions, a large majority say fat people should be able to summon the willpower to lose weight on their own. New York Times article

Offered breast reconstruction, many women ‘go flat’ — Some women are choosing to defy medical advice and social convention after mastectomies, saying they would rather live without breasts than undergo more surgery. New York Times article

Dog bites man – and a lot more often than he used to — Serious dog bites have become a far bigger problem in California during the past decade, sending tens of thousands of people to hospitals every year, according to a Sacramento Bee review of new state data. Sacramento Bee article

LA County may let more hospitals detain dangerous psychiatric patients — On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors will consider setting up a pilot program that would change that policy at at one hospital.  The County Department of Mental Health is proposing the experiment at south L.A.’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital, which doesn’t have a mental health unit. KPCC report

Land Use/Housing

His apartments were run down.  Now Summerset owner ordered to pay $200,000 in fines — The owner of Summerset Village Apartments, where approximately 1,000 residents went weeks without heat and hot water last November, was ordered Monday to pay more than $200,000 to the city of Fresno for code violations. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Should outdoor wedding venues be allowed in Stanislaus County? — Stanislaus County supervisors are scheduled Tuesday to consider policies for outdoor wedding venues in the unincorporated area. Modesto Bee article


East Highway 58 still closed after thousand-gallon spill unleashes ‘river of gasoline’ — Westbound lanes of Highway 58 reopened late Monday afternoon but eastbound lanes will remain closed overnight east of Bakersfield after a gasoline tanker overturned, spilling several thousand gallons of gasoline. Bakersfield Californian articleFresno Bee article

LA’s traffic battle plan: More rail, but also Uber, bicycles, cars and a lot more dene development — Adding more rapid transit will add options for commuters, experts say, but they stress that rail alone won’t solve L.A.’s infamous congestion. Rather than a total reliance on transit, Southern California’s growth will probably follow a “hybrid approach” to mobility, incorporating rail, buses, walking and biking, shared mobility services such as Uber and Lyft — and, yes, cars. LA Times article