November 12, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Tight races again put spotlight on California recount rules – It’s been four months since the photo finish in the June primary election for California state controller shined a spotlight on California’s unique recount rules. Now more recounts could be coming to a handful of close legislative and congressional races on last week’s ballot. Sacramento Bee article

California’s post-recession tax growth exceeds U.S. average – Despite dropping during the first three months of the year, state government tax revenue continued to surpass pre-recession levels through the end of June, according to a new study by The Pew Charitable Trusts.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

John Krebs, former congressman, dies at 87 – Former Fresno congressman John H. Krebs, who served two terms in the House of Representatives in the wake of the Watergate political scandal in the mid-1970s, died Monday afternoon in Fresno. He was 87.  Fresno Bee article

Rios accepts $4,000 fine for campaign-finance violations – Two-time unsuccessful state Assembly candidate Pedro Rios has agreed to pay a $4,000 fine for violating campaign-finance rules during his 2012 run.  Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Californians will soon have more time to turn in mail-in ballots – Late voters will have more opportunity to mail in their ballots, thanks to a new law that goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2015. The law stipulates that vote-by-mail ballots will need to be postmarked by Election Day and received up to three days later, rather than the current requirement that ballots must actually be in the hands of election officials by Election Day.   KQED report

Joel Fox: California’s 2016 ballot could be a tax blitzkrieg – If voters were a bit underwhelmed by the measures on the California ballot last week, just wait for the 2016 election. Already there is talk of potential initiatives on legalizing recreational marijuana, public pension reform, minimum wage increases and a basket full of tax hikes. The machinations around the tax issues could be most compelling just because so many are being considered.  Fox op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Stockton Record: All-mail the way to go? – It’s well worth studying whether an all-mail election or voting that would take advantage of modern technology could be A) more cost efficient, and; B) lead to better turnout.  Stockton Record editorial

Other areas

New push for online gaming – Three months after attempts to reach an agreement to establish internet poker in California fell apart, a major California gaming tribe says it has joined a coalition to push for new legislation to bring online gambling to the state.  Capitol Weekly article

Prison guard union faces fine for reporting lapse – The union that represents California prison guards has agreed to pay a $5,500 fine for failing to report nearly $25,000 in gifts to state lawmakers, according to the state’s campaign finance watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission.  AP article

Fresno’s PRK Arms challenges handgun ad rule – PRK Arms of Fresno joined with three other California gun dealers to file a lawsuit Monday against Attorney General Kamala Harris over a law restricting the advertising of handguns outside their stores.  The Business Journal article

A Veterans Day list of California lawmakers’ military service – With the state Capitol empty for Veterans Day, here’s a look at lawmakers with military backgrounds. Capitol Alert

Democrats’ leadership fight threatens Pelosi’s strength – Nancy Pelosi‘s grip on house Democrats in the aftermath of a third consecutive disappointing election could be tested in a hierarchy battle involving a Peninsula ally looking to leapfrog into a powerful committee slot.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Joe Mathews: Younger California set behaves more like grown-ups – The generations in California have reversed roles. Younger generations (of which I’m a member) are grown up: driving and smoking less, and committing fewer crimes than our elders did. While our elders live large on retirement benefits and the last generation’s big run-up in real estate values, we live on budgets with bigger college and housing debts and tax bills. Our leadership reflects this upside-down reality.  Mathews op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

In reversal, Placer County voters double salaries of supervisors – Voters in fiscally conservative Placer County last week overwhelmingly approved an initiative that will more than double county supervisor salaries, a reversal of two previous elections in which they handily rejected modest raises.  Sacramento Bee article

News Briefs

Top Stories

CSU faculty approve 3 percent compensation increase – The California State University faculty union has approved a new three-year contract that would raise its base compensation pool of $1.53 billion by 3 percent.  Sacramento Bee article

As UC regents debate tuition hike, Brown may hold sway – As the UC regents begin deliberations next week on a proposal to raise tuition by as much as 5% over each of the next five years. And although each member ostensibly has an equal vote, one may well have the strongest sway on public opinion and UC finances: Gov. Jerry Brown. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Chukchansi twists: Tex McDonald roughed up in jail; Oliver Baines supports Vernon King – The fallout from last month’s takeover at the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino continues to take odd turns. Wednesday, the lawyer for jailed Chukchansi tribal faction leaders Tex McDonald and Vernon King provided the interesting tidbits.  Fresno Bee article

San Francisco Green Cab pulls taxis off street, may go out of business – We have been covering the woes of the San Francisco taxi industry for some time now, and here’s another one for you: SF Green Cab, a small worker-owned taxi cooperative founded in 2007, has stopped operating and could be out of business for good.  KQED report

Jerry Greenfield talks entrepreneurship, ice cream – Jerry Greenfield is a many of many talents – entrepreneur, activist, and ice cream innovator, just to name a few. The co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s will visit Fresno on Wednesday November 12th to deliver a speech for the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall Lecture Series. He recently joined us on Valley Edition to talk about his life and career, including how he met his longtime business partner, and his strategy for success. We also talked about his activism on a number of issues including GMO foods and more.  KVPR report

Detroit emerges from bankruptcy, pension risk intact – The pension system that the settlement leaves behind has some of the same problems that plunged the city into crisis in the first place — fundamental problems that could also trip up other local governments in the coming years.  New York Times article

‘First Look’: Moneywise Guys explain reasons for all-time-high U.S. market – October was a bad month for the U.S. market. So bad, according to the Moneywise Guys, that it marked the worst numbers of the year. But in about five days — as November rolled in — it all changed.  Bakersfield Californian article

Rural supply store coming to Hanford – You might think that with Home Depot, Lowe’s and Orchard Supply Hardware, Hanford has enough offerings in the homeowner/do-it-yourself category. Tractor Supply Co. disagrees. Hanford Sentinel article

U.S., China reach agreement on cutting tariffs on tech products –  U.S. and China negotiators agreed to eliminate tariffs on technology products such as calculators, semiconductors, medical equipment and cash registers in a wide-ranging deal that backers say could generate up to $1 trillion in additional trade yearly.  LA Times article

Johnny Garlic’s restaurant on Arden Way folds – A restaurant in Arden Arcade operated by Food Network’s Guy Fieri has closed after about a decade under two different names.  Sacramento Bee article


Water-conservation efforts pay off:  U.S. usage lowest in decades – Americans recently passed a milestone when federal officials reported that water use across the nation had reached its lowest level in more than 45 years: good news for the environment, great news in times of drought and a major victory for conservation.  LA Times article

Drought-defying tomato harvest breaks California record – Defying the state’s devastating water shortage, California farmers produced a record tomato crop. The harvest came in at an estimated 14 million tons of processing tomatoes. Those are the type used to make sauce, salsa and other products, and represent about 96 percent of all the tomatoes grown in California.  Sacramento Bee article

Patt Morrison: Lester Snow is the answer man on the water bond – Californians, you just voted yourselves a $7-billion-plus water bond measure. What happens now? Lester Snow can draw you the map of water needs and detail the money being spent. Morrison in LA Times

Valley raisin growers, packers agree on price after tough negotiations – After weeks of negotiations, California raisin growers and the industry’s packers have agreed on a price for the 2014 crop: $1,775 a ton, an increase of 7.5% over the previous year. Fresno Bee article

A mixed year for Valley grapes – At Sundale Vineyards east of Tulare, field workers cut white grapes from vines and piled them into trays so they could be packed into the bags and plastic containers that will be sold at grocery stores.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Sally-Save-Water urges: Save every drop – Every week or so, as former City Councilwoman Diana Lowery shops at the market or walks down the Miracle Mile near her home, someone will spot her and say: “Hey, aren’t you Sally-Save-Water?”  Stockton Record article

Ethan McEnroe: Kern will need veterinarians to take care of its future needs – The Bakersfield native and first-year student in UC Davis’ School of Veterinary Medicine writes, “It is important for California’s economy that we continue to lead the nation in dairy production. To do that, we must find a way to increase the number of food-animal veterinarians who can help ensure safe, affordable and nutritious animal-based proteins for decades to come.”  McEnroe op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Modesto sees double-dip decrease in property crimes, lowest in three years – Modesto police officials say they’ve seen a double-digit drop in burglaries, robberies and vehicle thefts in the past 10 months, and they credit the department’s new policing strategies for the city’s lowest property crime rates in three years.  Modesto Bee article

Prop 47 leaves future of inmate fire crews uncertain – The initiative reduces penalties for drug possession and other nonviolent crimes — something that could deplete the pool of jail inmates who qualify for fire duty.  LA Times article

More Chukchansi troubles: Tex McDonald roughed up in jail – Chukchansi tribal leader Tex McDonald was injured in a fight in the Madera County jail over the weekend, his lawyer confirmed Tuesday. Jeff Reich, who represents McDonald, 64, in the criminal case stemming from the raid last month of the tribal gaming office at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, said his client may have suffered a broken jaw. He also has a deep scratch on his neck from a makeshift weapon. He was not taken to a hospital, Reich said. Fresno Bee article


Cal State system under fire for success fees on some campuses –  As University of California leaders push for a controversial multiyear tuition increase, the larger California State University system is holding back, preferring instead to wait and see if more funding can be coaxed from the state, officials said.  LA Times article

UC tuition may increase 5 percent annually over five years – The University of California Board of Regents on Nov. 6 announced they are considering adopting a tuition and financial aid plan that could increase tuition by up to 5 percent annually over the next five years.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Reworking remedial education – Boosting graduation rates of community college students who need remedial coursework has been a long-standing challenge, but a team of community college professors are gaining followers to their efforts to re-envision the basic coursework and help students get through faster.  EdSource article

State announces $250 million available for school pathways – An additional $250 million for is up for grabs for public schools to expand college and career readiness programs for students. Earlier this year, Tulare and Kings counties landed $15 million when the counties together applied through the Tulare-Kings Linked Learning Consortium for the state’s California Career Pathways Trust.  Visalia Times-Delta article

LA Unified schools chief to restore parent power to overhaul failing schools – Los Angeles Unified Supt. Ramon Cortines said Tuesday that he will allow parents to petition for sweeping changes in their failing schools, reversing the district’s previous position that it was not subject this year to the “parent trigger” law allowing such overhauls.  LA Times article


Kern oil producer suit alleges state inaction on disposal well paperwork – A local petroleum producer’s recent lawsuit accuses state regulators of refusing to process its application for a Kern County injection well that would dispose of water that comes up from the ground along with crude oil.  Bakersfield Californian article

U.S. and Chinese leaders make major breakthrough on climate change – Reflecting the urgency and scale scientists have called for to cope with climate change, the U.S. and Chinese presidents laid out ambitious new targets Wednesday to cut pollution in a deal that negotiators hope will inspire similarly dramatic commitments from other countries.  LA Times articleMcClatchy Newspapers article

Arturo Carmona: Latinos shouldn’t be pawns in fight over rooftop solar power – The executive director of writes, “Utility companies need to stop using Latinos and other communities of color as pawns in their power grab. We can speak for ourselves, and the Public Utilities Commission should listen to what we are saying.”Carmona op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Poison being released into Mountain Lake to kill nonnative fish – Poison will be pumped into Mountain Lake early Wednesday, killing the last remaining invasive fish and clearing the way for ecosystem restoration.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services

Hundreds of Kaiser nurses strike for patient safety – Kaiser Permanente nurses carried picket signs in front of the northeast Fresno hospital Tuesday to demand better safety equipment, training and staffing.  Fresno Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleModesto Bee articleSacramento Bee article

Covered California bus stops in Merced to promote open enrollment – “I’m in.” Those are the two words Covered California officials hope more than 500,000 Californians will be able to say after signing up for health coverage during this year’s second open enrollment period, which starts Saturday.  Merced Sun-Star article

U.S. is now Ebola-free, and the panic is gone as well – On Tuesday, a fully recovered Dr. Craig Spencer was released from Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan. The U.S. was now Ebola-free for the first time since Sept. 5 — a milestone that barely seemed to register with a once-frenzied public. How did we get here from there?  LA Times article

‘Pinktober’ leaves advanced breast-cancer patients with little funding, enthusiasm – November heralds the arrival of warm, autumnal hues in Sacramento’s tree canopy, a bombardment of acorns, crisper temperatures and – thankfully, for a certain group of advanced breast-cancer patients – the end of what’s increasingly referred to as “Pinktober.”  Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Nursing homes cloak ownership for good reason – There are 4.27 million Californians 65 and older now. There will be 6.05 million by 2020. We all have a stake in improving care provided by nursing homes, even the owners.  Sacramento Bee editorial

New bedroom designs help kids with serious illnesses dream well – Taylor’s new bedroom was created by Sweet Dreams, a Folsom-based nonprofit that has transformed 13 bedrooms into magical places of comfort and refuge for children ages 2 to 14 diagnosed with cancer and other potentially fatal illnesses.  Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Mural District buildings destroyed for city park – A series of small buildings along Fulton Street came crushing down in recent weeks clearing three-quarters of an acre in the Mural District for a small city park. Yep, that’s right — a park in downtown Fresno.  Fresno Bee article


Caltrans asks for public opinion on travel improvements – The state Department of Transportation will hold a workshop in Sacramento on Wednesday to solicit opinions on what the state should do in the coming decades to make travel easier between the capital region and the rest of the state – other than just widening freeways. Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

Glynn’s goal: Stem Stockton’s violence – Jessica Glynn arrived for her first day on the job at City Hall nearly one month ago, brought to bankrupt Stockton’s crumbling headquarters by what might seem a harmonic convergence of her own professional passions and the career path of her professor husband. Glynn, 33, clocked in only days after one of Stockton’s tragically traditional outbursts of senseless violence, her mission glaringly obvious though she was fully aware of the limits of her powers.  Stockton Record article

Lois Henry: Finally, progress on fireworks restrictions – Those who love their stupidly dangerous illegal fireworks best pay attention. Come March, Kern County will likely impose much higher fines on those who repeatedly break the law. It will crack down on hosts where party guests light off illegal fireworks. And at least two “safe and sane” fireworks products that are legal in the county today could be banned.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Operator of Kings marijuana dispensary arrested – The operator of a medical marijuana dispensary was arrested Friday after an investigation revealed that he was running the establishment for the benefit of illegal financial gain and was violating the county ban on marijuana collectives and dispensaries, the Kings County Narcotic Task Force said.  Hanford Sentinel article

Reading aloud is just what the doctor ordered – Dennis DelPaine was reading Ann Landers’ column one day and was moved by a letter from a woman dying of breast cancer who was going to miss reading to her grandchildren, so she made recordings to leave behind. The Stockton physician, discouraged by Stockton continually ranking 199 out of 200 cities in literacy rates — “Thank God for El Paso, Texas,” said the doctor who specializes in asthma and allergies — took the woman’s idea and ran with it. Stockton Record article

Salida cutting ties with Modesto, restarting its fire department – The Salida Fire Protection District is restarting its fire department and cutting its ties with Modesto, which has provided the district with fire services since July at a cost of $102,500 per month.  Modesto Bee article

Veterans Day – Communities across the Valley honored veterans on Veterans Day.  Fresno Bee article‘Ex-bracero farmworker joins Fresno Veterans Day celebration as field veteran’ in Fresno BeeBakersfield Californian article‘Fitting tribute: Road named for Alvarado on Veterans Day’ in Bakersfield CalifornianMerced Sun-Star articleModesto Bee article

Atwater council wrestles with feral cat issue, but proposed law fails – An ordinance introduced at Monday’s City Council meeting would impose a barrage of new rules for people like Vidales, who feed and water the community’s homeless cats. The proposed ordinance – which was unanimously tabled by the City Council – would have made it illegal to provide food, water or other sustenance to feral cats without a signed agreement requiring caregivers to meet a number of requirements.  Merced Sun-Star article

Court orders injunction in Sikh temple dispute – A Stanislaus Superior Court judge has issued a tentative preliminary injunction against a group of men that took over leadership of the Sikh temple in Hughson in September.  Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – A user’s guide to Sacramento for newbie legislators.

Merced Sun-Star – Some pointers for newly elected state leaders.

Modesto Bee – Some pointers for newly elected state leaders.

Sacramento Bee – There are 4.27 million Californians 65 and older now. There will be 6.05 million by 2020. We all have a stake in improving care provided by nursing homes, even the owners;

Stockton Record – It’s well worth studying whether an all-mail election or voting that would take advantage of modern technology could be A) more cost efficient, and; B) lead to better turnout.