November 11, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Joel Fox: California’s U.S. Senate seats in spotlight – Chatter around political circles last week frequently focused on California politicians who were not even on Tuesday’s ballot. Would U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer, 74 tomorrow, and Dianne Feinstein, 81, run for re-election?  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Bill Maher: Ageism stifles Jerry Brown’s presidential chances – With the 2016 presidential election drawing closer, lefty comedian Bill Maher flashed an image of Hillary Clinton and urged Democrats to turn to the “one person who has a record of competence and reform unmatched in their party” – California Gov. Jerry Brown.  Sacramento Bee article
Valley politics

Atwater police release PAL van investigation – Atwater police officials on Monday released details of an investigation into the dismissal of a 14-year Police Department volunteer, who was let go after driving a Police Activities League van that was used to help cadets distribute campaign fliers supporting three candidates.  Merced Sun-Star article

Pilot killed in plane crash before election may win seat anyway – A man who died in a plane crash last month could win an election in eastern Kern County. Michael Hill, 68, whose two-seater T-67 Firefly crashed Oct. 24 near Randsburg, was on the ballot for one of two short-term positions on the Mojave Air and Space Port board of directors.  Bakersfield Californian article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

State Senate race seen as proxy fight over malpractice law – The doctors, insurers and other healthcare interests who opposed that measure scored a major victory with its defeat. But they also notched another notable win in a state Senate race that may not have captured the attention of voters statewide but certainly gained notice in the Capitol. The race was a costly intra-party battle between two Democratic Assembly members: Richard Pan, a doctor, and Roger Dickinson, an attorney. Pan opposed Proposition 46; Dickinson supported it.  LA Times article


Other areas

Doug Ose’s lead over Ami Bera falls – again – Democratic Rep. Ami Bera has pulled to within 530 votes of Republican challenger Doug Ose in the race for suburban Sacramento’s 7th Congressional District.  Capitol Alert

Two senior Republican Assembly staffers let go – Newly elevated Assembly Republican leader Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, is shaking up the Republican caucus staff by parting ways with two senior staffers. Longtime policy staffer Richard Mersereau and Deborah Gonzalez, who served most recently as policy and fiscal director and then chief of staff to outgoing Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, will both be pushed out.  Capitol Alert

Ex-Sen. Rod Wright appeals voter fraud conviction – Attorneys for former state Sen. Roderick Wright said Monday they have filed a notice of appeal of Wright’s conviction on charges of perjury and voter fraud for lying about living in his district.  LA Times article

Foon Rhee: A politician looking out for taxpayers – what a concept – A special election to fill Assemblyman-elect Kevin McCarty’s seat on the Sacramento City Council will cost $200,000. He could buy a lot of goodwill by helping to pay for it.  Rhee column in Sacramento Bee

San Jose: Bay Area’s largest city has a new mayor, Sam Liccardo – Almost a week after election day, San Jose has a new mayor: City Councilman Sam Liccardo.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Richie Ross agrees to lobbying fines – Richie Ross, a longtime Democratic campaign consultant and lobbyist, has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine and write off $160,000 he’s owed for violating California’s lobbying laws, according to a proposed settlement he reached with the staff of the Fair Political Practices Commission.  Capitol AlertLA Times article

Prison officers’ union accepts fine for lobbying violations – California’s state prison officers’ union has agreed to a $5,500 fine for failing to disclose gifts it gave to state lawmakers from 2009 to 2011 and a corresponding failure to give gift notifications to the recipients.  Sacramento Bee article

Obama urges net neutrality; Cruz calls it ‘Obamacare for the Internet’ – President Obama has called on federal regulators to toughen proposed net-neutrality rules for Internet traffic, including taking the controversial step of changing the way the law treats broadband providers so they are subject to stricter utility-like regulation.  LA Times articleDavid Lazarus column in LA TimesAP article‘No toll lanes on Internet highway’: Sacramento Bee editorial

Michael Hiltzik:  The congressional GOP sharpens its knives to attack scientific research – Nothing is easier, if you’re a political philistine playing to an audience of anti-intellectual rubes, than to ridicule scientific research projects by caricature.  Hiltzik column in LA Times



News Briefs

Top Stories

Taxpayer costs for Fresno water-system upgrade remains a tough sell – When it comes to water security well into the 21st century, Fresno is home free. The only possible glitch — Fresnans may prefer their money to home and water. That was the clear message that came out of Monday’s water forum, City Hall’s fourth and final public gathering to review issues surrounding water.  Fresno Bee article

Some Sacramento police agencies already adhering to Prop 47 changes – Some local law enforcement agencies already have begun implementing Proposition 47 – the initiative voters adopted last week that reduces criminal penalties for some drug and property crimes – with officers in Sacramento citing rather than arresting some suspects and the Sacramento County sheriff releasing 50 suspects whose alleged crimes suddenly have been shifted from felonies to misdemeanors.  Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Housing affordability remains steady in Valley – Low interest rates and minimal home price gains helped housing affordability in Madera County inch up in the third quarter of the year while the rest of the central San Joaquin Valley held steady, according to a report from the California Association of Realtors.  Fresno Bee article

English firm buys Fresno-based VisioOne ticketing company – Accesso Technology Group, a company listed on the London Stock Exchange, is buying VisionOne Worldwide, a Fresno-based company that developed a cloud-based ticket-selling software used by amusement venues in North and South America.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno First Bank creates holding company as it explores avenues to growth – Fresno First Bank has created a holding company, Communities First Financial Corporation, to serve as bank’s parent company to accommodate potential growth into new markets and types of businesses over the next five years.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Downtown Stockton Alliance names new CEO – Cynthia Fargo will be the new Chief Executive Officer of the Downtown Stockton Alliance, the board of directors announced on Monday. Fargo, who currently serves as economic development manager of City Heights Community Development Corporation in east San Diego, will begin her duties downtown on Nov. 18.  Stockton Record article

ValleyPBS hires new president and CEO – Fresno public television station ValleyPBS has selected a new CEO to replace Paula Castadio, who took a position at Fresno State in August. Phil Meyer will take take the helm of ValleyPBS in early January 2015. Meyer has been station manager of PBS university licensee WTIU in Bloomington, Indiana since 2001.  The Business Journal article

LA mayor trumpets jobs to be created as energy use is cut – Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday that Los Angeles could reap thousands of jobs from its commitment to cutting energy consumption by 15% across the city.  LA Times article

West Coast dock workers strike could cost $2 billion a day – The national economy could take a multi-billion dollar hit this holiday season if there’s a strike linked to contract talks between the West Coast shippers and dock workers.  KPBS reportLA Times article

Hersberger retiring from Aera; Pollard to replace her – Two familiar faces in the local business community are on the move, it was announced Monday evening. Susan Hersberger is retiring as public affairs director at Aera Energy effective Dec. 31 and Cynthia Pollard, currently president and CEO of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, will succeed her.  Bakersfield Californian article

Sequoia Beverage loses in fight over name – Tulare County Superior Court Judge Melinda Reed denied beer distributor Sequoia Beverage’s motion for a preliminary injunction against Sequoia Brewing Company Bar and Grill from using the name Sequoia. Now, the Fresno eatery plans to open a new location on Main Street in Visalia soon.  Visalia Times-Delta article



California’s strawberry industry is hooked on dangerous pesticides – Paul Helliker had a job for Dow AgroSciences. As director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, Helliker had allowed some growers to ignore the restrictions for a pesticide called 1,3-Dichloropropene, which the state believed caused cancer.  Center for Investigative Reporting article

Parched: California wildlife suffers in drought – As Californians look to the sky, fingers crossed for a wet winter, three brutally dry years are harming millions of animals that depend on rivers, streams and wetlands for survival. They range from salmon and snakes, to birds that migrate from as far away as the Arctic.  KQED report

Green in a time of brown – Talk to Pro Turf owner Derik Jakusz long enough, and lawns start to sound like ailing patients in the hospital. Jakusz promotes and uses a product called Turf Medix, a sprayed-on formulation designed to rescue lawns nearly done in by drought, high temperatures and tough watering restrictions.  Hanford Sentinel article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Stockton Day Reporting Center: Open house focus on helping former inmates – California’s overcrowded prisons have been releasing prisoners as quickly as they can to meet federal requirements to reduce their populations. But releasing inmates is only the first step to their re-integration into society.  Stockton Record article

Former Fresno gang leader takes center stage in this week’s Chandra Levy murder hearing – Prison snitching, missing emails and some long-forgotten Fresno-area crimes might captivate a D.C. courtroom audience this week during a high-stakes hearing to determine whether the man convicted of killing Chandra Levy gets a new trial.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Homicide down, but gains uneven in Bay Area crime – The number of homicides in the Bay Area’s biggest cities dropped significantly in 2013 when compared with the year before, mirroring a nationwide trend. But Oakland saw a jump in robberies and San Francisco suffered a big increase in property crimes, FBI statistics released Monday showed.  San Francisco Chronicle article

FBI ranks Irvine as safety big city in U.S. for 10th year in a row – The lowest violent-crime rate in city history last year netted Irvine its 10th straight title as the safest big city in the nation, officials announced this week.  LA Times article



Valley colleges see rise in transfer degrees – Several Valley community colleges have excelled in the last year under a new transfer degree program between California Community Colleges and California State University.  The Business Journal article

City College of San Francisco trustees may not return to power until 2016 – The elected Board of Trustees for City College of San Francisco, stripped of power in 2013, would have to wait until July 2016 before regaining full authority under a new plan from the state chancellor for California Community Colleges.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Stagg student learning from others’ mistakes – Two roads diverged, the poet wrote, but for Jada Johnson, there was never any question about which she would choose. She was 6 years old when her mother kissed her on the cheek and said she was going to the store. She slung a garbage bag over her shoulder, then walked out. Jada, still months away from starting kindergarten, was left behind with her brothers and sisters.  Stockton Record article

Modesto students get lesson in service from veterans – The Veterans Day observance got an early start at Agnes Baptist Elementary School in Modesto, which on Monday honored military service members at two appreciation assemblies.  Modesto Bee article

Student arrested after making online threat to ‘shoot up’ high school – A Stockdale High School student has been arrested after posting online threats to “shoot up” the school, according to police.  Bakersfield Californian article



Earth Log: Are there lessons in November’s awful air? – The San Joaquin Valley’s eye-stinging haze, filled with dangerous debris last Thursday, foreshadowed a most uncomfortable weekend, especially for those with heart and lung problems. Fresno Bee article
Health/Human Services

California falls short in disclosing nursing-home ownership – California has more nursing homes than any other state, and one of the country’s highest percentages of facilities owned by for-profit interests. Yet, as more private investment groups acquire skilled-nursing facilities, and ownership structures grow ever more layered and complex, the department has not kept pace with industry changes to help consumers evaluate chains – or even to identify the principals behind them.  Sacramento Bee article

Kaiser-Fresno hospital nurses set to picket over Ebola safety concerns –Kaiser Permanente said it was prepared to continue delivering care even as about 400 nurses were expected to be on picket lines Tuesday to demand better Ebola safety protections and training.  Fresno Bee article

Estimate of health coverage enrollment leaves room to grow – The Obama administration on Monday offered a surprisingly modest estimate of the number of people who would sign up for health insurance in the second round of open enrollment, which begins on Saturday.  New York Times article

Regular pot smokers have shrunken brains, study says – Experimental mice have been telling us this for years, but pot-smoking humans didn’t want to believe it could happen to them: Compared with a person who never smoked marijuana, someone who uses marijuana regularly has, on average, less gray matter in his orbital frontal cortex, a region that is a key node in the brain’s reward, motivation, decision-making and addictive behaviors network.  LA Times article

UCSF develops site to make sense out of sugar science – UCSF on Monday unveiled a repository of sugar science, designed to collect the evidence against sweetened foods and disseminate that information to the public — and persuade people to boot fructose and most other refined sugars out of their diets to protect their health — and not just their waistlines.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Google offers to triple your Ebola donations – Google is launching a campaign to help fight Ebola by contributing $2 for every dollar people donate to a slew of nonprofits such as Save the Children and the Doctors Without Borders.  AP article


Land Use/Housing

McCaffrey Group moves ahead with Tesoro Viejo project in Madera – The McCaffrey Group officially announced on Monday its plan, with Lyles United, to build the first of seven walkable villages in its master-planned community of Tesoro Viejo in Madera. The Madera County Planning Commission has approved the first village which is expected to bring 850 homes to the rolling hills and vistas off Highway 41 at Avenue 14. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Fresno to join national campaign to end homelessness – Fresno was selected as one of 68 U.S. communities to participate in “Zero: 2016,” a national campaign to end veteran and chronic homelessness in the next two years.  Fresno Bee article

Oakland looks for ways to accommodate new residents – Here are two essential facts on the housing situation in Oakland. In the last four years, more than 15,000 people have moved into the city. During those same four years, the city has built only a little over 3,000 housing units. The math does not add up.  KQED report

Former San Francisco S.R.O. to provide housing, services to homeless vets – Veterans and San Francisco officials got their first glimpse Monday of the new permanent veterans housing on the edge of the Financial District, with residents expected to start moving in before Thanksgiving.  San Francisco Chronicle article



California high-speed rail head says project still on track despite GOP – Dan Richard, chair of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said Friday he’s confident there’s already enough money for initial construction in the Central Valley.  KQED report


Other Areas

California, federal officials step up efforts to help women veterans –  Federal and state officials, worried that many women exiting the military aren’t receiving the services and benefits they’re due, say they are redoubling efforts to reach them.  Sacramento Bee article

Local vets to get more services, options – Things are looking up for local veterans, according to the Kings County Veterans Service Office. State and local governments are set to provide more services and programs to assist veterans with their needs and benefits. Locally, the Kings County Veterans Service Office, which assists vets with benefits and other needs, is fully staffed for the first time in many months.  Hanford Sentinel article

Jeff Jardine: Appreciation of veterans should last all year – So Veterans Day might, indeed, come once a year with parades, processions and public thanks. Being a veteran, though, is a year-round thing.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Bakersfield National Cemetery a final resting home for veterans – The white marble symmetrics of the Bakersfield National Cemetery are peacefully unsettling, stiffly stark beneath rumpled oak-studded hills. It is hallowed ground for veterans, no more so than on Veterans Day.  Bakersfield California article

Point/Counterpoint: Veterans Day – Tom Fife and Joe Altschule consider Veterans Day on the pages of the Visalia Times-Delta.  Point/Counterpoint in Visalia Times-Delta

Competency trial date set for Harry Baker – A Fresno County Superior Court judge on Monday set a competency trial date for Harry Baker, the 86-year-old former Madera County supervisor charged with committing lewd acts with a minor.  Fresno Bee article

Brik McDill: Take a lesson from our children: Let’s learn how not to be greedy – Maybe we adults need to take a lesson from our kids, like how not to be greedy. True, we all learned from earliest memory among other things that the alpha male got the prettiest cheerleader, and that the kindest hindermost male often lost his lunch money. But hopefully we grew up and grew back to earlier patterns of thinking about and caring for one another. Right?  McDill column in Bakersfield Californian

Bruce Maiman: How we die is no one’s business but our own – Some suggest that the death of Brittany Maynard, the California woman who, in the face of terminal brain cancer, chose to end her life in Oregon, has rekindled a national debate on assisted suicide. I’m not sure it has. I don’t think it will. I don’t think it should. Why are we even debating what is nothing more than a private decision on a very personal matter that is absolutely nobody else’s business? Perhaps because it’s too much for the sanctimonious to resist.  Maiman column in Sacramento Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Maybe Barack Obama and Republicans who won control of the U.S. Senate will really compromise for the common good.

Merced Sun-Star – Some 4 million Americans have spoken and it’s time for the FCC to reclassify the carriers, impose net neutrality by regulation and do right by the public interest, right down to the last, devilish detail.

Modesto Bee – Some 4 million Americans have spoken and it’s time for the FCC to reclassify the carriers, impose net neutrality by regulation and do right by the public interest, right down to the last, devilish detail.

Sacramento Bee – Some 4 million Americans have spoken and it’s time for the FCC to reclassify the carriers, impose net neutrality by regulation and do right by the public interest, right down to the last, devilish detail; A user’s guide to Sacramento for newbie legislators.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers on honoring veterans throughout the year, inspiration from a Pacific athlete and other issues.