November 10, 2014

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Political Briefs

Top stories

Jerry Brown looks to solidify legacy with big state projects — Fresh off winning a historic fourth term as governor, Jerry Brown plans to push ahead with a pair of projects that could transform the California landscape: high-speed rail and delta water tunnels.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California’s new Legislature inexperienced but has more time to adjust — When the 2015-16 Legislature convenes later this year, a majority of lawmakers – 72 out of 120 – will arrive with at most two years of state-level experience. The critical mass of relative newcomers reflects a shift in California’s term limit rules with dual consequences: While the incoming class of lawmakers is sparse on state legislative experience, it could also remain largely intact for a decade.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Dave Cogdill Sr.: Kristin Olsen right person for a big job – The former state Senate Republican leader writes, “This week, Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen officially took the reins as Assembly Republican leader after being elected to the position by her peers last July, and the timing couldn’t be more appropriate for the Central Valley. It is we who suffer from the largest unemployment rates, stand to lose the most from this devastating drought and are consistently dismissed by representatives from the wealthier, coastal regions of the state. The good news is that Olsen knows how to bring people together to get things done in Sacramento – and now she has a larger stage to stand on. Cogdill op-ed in Modesto Bee

CD9: McNerney retains House seat despite tight race — Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, declared victory Sunday afternoon in a tight race against Republican challenger Tony Amador to represent California’s 9th Congressional District in Washington, D.C.  Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

George Skelton: Who will become California’s next governor and U.S. senators? — Here’s an ironclad guarantee: California’s next state election will be tons more interesting than our just-concluded snoozer. Make that the next two elections — in 2016 and 2018.  Skelton column in LA Times

Other areas

Dianne Feinstein holds off on backing Ed Lee’s re-election bid – One person not jumping on the Mayor Ed Lee re-election bandwagon just yet is Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who says she has a few questions about the direction of the city.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Biking and walking likely to be major issue in spring city elections – The scene provided fresh evidence that biking and walking have become potent political issues in L.A., where activists are pushing for more bike lanes, sidewalk improvements and other measures aimed at reducing the city’s reliance on the car.  LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Heat, drought worsen smog in California, stalling decades of progress — Heat and extreme drought have worsened smog in California over the last year, stalling decades of progress toward cleaner air and increasing health risks.  LA Times article

Q&A: Valley economy’s strengths and weaknesses put in focus – The University of the Pacific’s Business Forecasting Center in Stockton has spent about the last year assessing the Northern San Joaquin Valley’s economy and how local governments and other institutions can start coming together to create a comprehensive, regional approach to the Valley’s economic well-being.  Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

California businesses benefit from election day outcomes – All kinds of California businesses, large and small, won at the polls Tuesday and are hoping for a big payoff. Businesses as varied as strawberry growers, beer brewers and oil refiners — all heavy water users — stand to benefit from voter passage of Proposition 1, a $7.5-billion bond to fund improved water storage and quality and stave off future droughts.  LA Times article

CalSTRS pensions grew faster than pay, inflation – A new look at how CalSTRS members changed during the last 15 years shows the average teacher working fewer years, retiring at an older age and collecting a pension that grew faster than pay or inflation.  Calpensions article

Tweets cause trouble for Sacramento-area wineries, breweries — This simple tweet nearly cost Revolution Wines a 10-day suspension of its liquor license: “Two days till @SaveMart Grape Escape in Downtown #Sacramento! Get tickets and info here:” Revolution Wines had actually retweeted this post from the Sacramento Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Twitter feed. But as far as the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control was concerned, this 95-character social media message was a major no-no.  Sacramento Bee article


Don Curlee: Urban farm takes root in Great Park — In urban Southern California, a tiny farm is demonstrating dramatic water-saving and space-saving methods of producing nutritious food in abundance. Interested observers are curious neighboring urbanites and, perhaps many of the farmers throughout the most productive agricultural state.  Curlee in Visalia Times-Delta

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Former inmates released until Prop 36 doing well, advocates say — While Griffin’s story is unique, Prop. 36 proponents say it’s emblematic of a wider trend of inmates released under the law faring well, despite arguments that the repeat offenders would be dangerous. More than 1,900 prisoners have been released under Prop. 36, with the average person out for a little over a year, according to Stanford Law School’s Three Strikes Project. Just 3.5 percent have returned to prison for committing a new crime, state data reviewed by the group shows.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Mendota police chief put on paid administrative leave — Mendota police Chief Jerry Galvin is on paid administrative leave due to “an ongoing personnel matter,” city manager Vince DiMaggio said Sunday.  Fresno Bee article


Common Core unscathed in California elections – The Common Core State Standards, the principal reform now underway in California schools, emerged unscathed from the state’s fall electoral battles, including one of the most combative races for state superintendent of public instruction in decades.  EdSource article

States listen as parents give rampant testing an F – Where once these frustrations were voiced in murmurs, this year not only parents but also educators across Florida are rebelling. They have joined a national protest in which states have repealed their graduation test requirements, postponed the consequences of testing for the Common Core — national standards in more than 40 states — and rolled back the number of required exams.  New York Times article

Sacramento City Unified teachers balk at health insurance switch –  Sacramento City Unified teachers have filed an unfair labor practice claim with the state, contending the school district’s 2015 switch in health insurers violates state employment law, breaches a contract and threatens to disrupt medical care for employees and retirees.  Sacramento Bee article

Districts find a new way to fund technology — Three school districts and a community college passed a new form of school bonds on Tuesday aimed at ensuring technology purchases are more affordable and frequent.  EdSource article

Interviews for new Fresno State athletic director to begin Monday — The search committee charged with winnowing the pool of candidates to be the next athletic director at Fresno State will start the interview process this week with a deep group of Division I athletics directors and administrators with extensive development and fundraising backgrounds.  Fresno Bee article

San Joaquin County approved for Youth ChalleNGe program — Fresh off what might have been his first full night of sleep in 14 months, James Mousalimas could hardly contain his excitement as he laid out his vision for leading the San Joaquin County Office of Education. The good news just keeps coming. Thursday, two days after clinching a decisive victory in the county’s first contested superintendent race in decades, he got word that the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program in San Joaquin County was officially a go.  Stockton Record article


Erica Etelson: Next PUC chief must be independent advocate for clean energy – The founding member of Californians for Energy Choice writes, “Gov. Brown can make local clean energy his legacy by appointing a PUC president who will stand up to monopoly utilities and stand with the people for clean air, green jobs and a 21st-century clean-energy economy.” Etelson op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Pam Shallock: Common sense takes backseat to political correctness again – The second-grade teacher at Stockdale Elementary School writes, “Why does common sense take a back seat to political correctness over and over again? Isn’t it possible to think that we are having a tough, life-affecting time during the drought and that the salmon, as people too, could share in our challenge?”  Shallock op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Health/Human Services

Many Latinos shun Obamacare for fear of getting relatives deported — The Saldana sisters are among roughly 600,000 Latinos in California who remain uninsured — despite qualifying for subsidized coverage under the federal health law. Latinos outnumber whites and Asians among the 1.3 million Californians who are eligible for federal aid and lack private health coverage.  LA Times article

Unmasked: Who owns California’s nursing homes? – Marisa Conover of Fair Oaks built her career dealing with complicated people and problems. As a former executive with CBS Records International, she handled worldwide distribution of video and merchandising for such artists as Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand and The Rolling Stones. Then she encountered a challenge closer to home.  Sacramento Bee article; ‘Help for consumers: How to research nursing homes’ in Sacramento Bee

Kaiser nurses plan 2-day strike: Premature move or strategic step? — As many as 18,000 Kaiser Permanente nurses are preparing for a two-day strike that will start Tuesday. Nurses plan to leave their posts at 7 a.m. and picket outside 21 medical centers and clinics across Northern California.  KQED report; Modesto Bee article

Memorial’s emergency department expansion will fast-track patients with less serious medical issues – Memorial Medical Center of Modesto has expanded its emergency department with a goal of fast-tracking patients with less serious illness while increasing capacity for those with true emergencies.  Modesto Bee article

Report reveals majority of Californians experienced early childhood trauma — About 62 percent of Californians have experienced at least one “adverse childhood experience,” such as abuse, neglect or household dysfunction, according to a new report released Wednesday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Hundreds of kids damaged by detergent ‘pods’: Study — Accidental poisonings from squishy laundry detergent packets sometimes mistaken for toys or candy landed more than 700 U.S. children in the hospital in just two years, researchers report. Coma and seizures were among the most serious complications.  AP article

Local hospitals get kudos for work on pressure ulcers — About 2.5 million patients are treated for pressure ulcers in the United States every year, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and about 60,000 die as a direct result of the condition. Nurses at some Sacramento-area medical facilities are making it a priority to stop bedsores long before they get to that point.  Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

Central San Joaquin Valley veterans: In their own words — In honor of Veterans Day on Tuesday, The Bee presents the stories of five veterans of foreign wars who call the Valley home.  Fresno Bee article

California Chrome doing ‘super’ after Breeders’ Cup — It’s not often that a third-place finish offers redemption for a thoroughbred, but that’s exactly what happened for California Chrome.  The Sports Network article in Modesto Bee