November 15, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories 

Cathleen Decker: Three key areas that give Republicans trouble in California — From the beginning of the summer of Trump, many Republicans here hoped he would disappear quickly, to limit damage to the party’s image. Summer turned to fall, and Trump still dominates the presidential campaign. And so does the subject of illegal immigration, posing a mighty threat. How mighty could be seen in a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll published last week. It demonstrated again what California sees in every election: The party’s positions on immigration and other issues, like gay marriage, have cost Republicans a generation of good will and support. Here, the poll reminded, Republicans are limited mostly to older and white voters, religious voters and residents of inland California. Decker in LA Times 

ACLU sends letter to Fresno sheriff urging end to collaboration with immigration officials — The American Civil Liberties Union sent Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims a letterurging her to end a partnership with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The program allows two ICE agents to work from inside Fresno County Jail. They determine the legal status of inmates and examine their criminal history before deciding whether those in the country illegally should be deported. Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown

Governor mourns Paris victim from Long Beach, activates threat assessment program — Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday mourned the death of the Long Beach State University student killed in the Paris terror attacks and activated the state “threat assessment system” to coordinate security activities among local, state and federal law enforcement officials. Sacramento Bee article


Immigration sanctuary ban creates uncertainty in North Carolina — The police chief of Durham said a new North Carolina law would erode trust among undocumented residents, but officials elsewhere weren’t sure what might result. New York Times article

Other areas

In wake of terror attack, all eyes are on Super Bowl 50 – As police around the Bay Area on Saturday went on heightened alert at tourist spots, sporting events and other gathering places in response to Friday’s attacks in Paris, the most troubling potential target wasn’t something that anyone could yet see or shield: Super Bowl 50, coming to Santa Clara in February. San Jose Mercury News article 

Gail Marshall: Paris bombing: A world away, and yet right at home – Our French daughters were still sleeping when I panicked. They knew nothing of the crisis in Paris until they read my Facebook messages. Marshall column in Fresno Bee 

Stockton activist determined, despite the Paris terror attacks – The ghastly attacks in Paris came exactly two weeks before Stockton native Ryan Camero expects to step onto a plane and fly there. It’s an unsettling time to visit. But this is not a vacation, and the 22-year-old artist and environmental activist on Friday sounded as determined as ever to make the trip. Stockton Record article 

Arturo Vargas: Changing ‘one person, one vote’ would make one big mess – The executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund writes, “Counting only eligible voters and excluding youths and noncitizens – including those here legally – would ultimately grant greater political power to population groups that are older, wealthier and more suburban.” Vargas op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

In protest over gay rights, Mormons give up their church membership — It came regularly, lifting over the din of a bustling city park, piercing the wail of a passing ambulance, a steady rhythm marking time and counting souls. Thwock! Another Mormon who could now officially call herself an ex-Mormon. Thwock! Another person lost to heaven, according to Mormon theology. LA Times article 

Victor Davis Hanson: The fiction of ‘Truth’ — The enlightened ends of seeking racial and religious tolerance, equality of opportunity and political accountability are never advanced by the illiberal means of lying. What makes this 2016 election so unpredictable is fed-up voters – in other words, Americans who finally are becoming tired of being lied to. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

Fresno Unified looks to outside firm in response to federal subpoena – As the deadline to respond to a federal grand jury subpoena nears, the Fresno Unified School District is proposing that an independent firm step in to handle the vast amount of data sought by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in its ongoing investigation of the district’s no-bid construction contracts. Fresno Bee article 

Many say high deductibles make their health insurance all but useless – Obama administration officials, urging people to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, have trumpeted the low premiums available on the law’s new marketplaces. But for many consumers, the sticker shock is coming not on the front end, when they purchase the plans, but on the back end when they get sick: sky-high deductibles that are leaving some newly insured feeling nearly as vulnerable as they were before they had coverage. New York Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Mike Klocke: Looking northward, asking for help – There’s an odd juxtaposition between San Joaquin County’s needs and desires and the way it is treated by state government as a whole in Sacramento. In a nutshell: The State doesn’t really help us with many of the things we need but has no problem foisting upon us things we don’t want. The sparkplug for this feeling of woe-is-us occurred last week when San Joaquin County swung and missed on state funding for badly needed expansion of jail facilities. Klocke column in Stockton Record

Business conference will return to CSU Bakersfield – The Bakersfield Business Conference will return to Cal State Bakersfield next year, organizers said in an announcement that also named four more people — a television icon, a business leader, a political commentator and a talk show host — who have signed up to speak at the event. Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto Irrigation District making another run at changing electricity prices — A radical change in the way electricity prices are structured will go to a vote of the Modesto Irrigation District board on Tuesday. Although some customers would see monthly power bills go up under the proposal, most would have a slight decrease, and MID’s income would not change, the district says. Modesto Bee article

LA council again set to take up homeless emergency declaration with potentially sweeping scope – The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday is slated to take up an emergency declaration to attack the city’s homelessness crisis with initiatives that could include opening shelters on public and private land, authorizing parking lots where homeless people can sleep in cars and vans, and developing storage facilities for homeless people’s belongings. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Homeless need all the help, funding they can get – The Sacramento County supervisors have now spent $17 million this year on homeless services and, after years of inaction, we commend them for it. It’s a good first step, but it’s not enough. Sacramento Bee editorial

Sacramento shifts expensive sewer repair to homeowners – For as long as anyone can remember, the city of Sacramento has picked up the cost of repairing and replacing the section of the underground sewer system that runs from homeowners’ property lines to the sewer main beneath the street. The practice was in place despite language in the city code stating the work should be the responsibility of homeowners. But last month, the Department of Utilities quietly stopped fixing that part of the system – known as the lower lateral – in a move that will likely cost homeowners thousands of dollars for each repair. Sacramento Bee article

Children’s Storybook Garden getting ready to grow — After more than three years of work, the Children’s Storybook Garden and Museum could be just a few months away from debuting about a half-dozen themed gardens and other offerings. Hanford Sentinel article

Patty Guerra: Bad news for me, good news for customers in Turlock, Modesto — I have awful news to share this week. Actually, it’s awful only for my wallet. There’s a new incarnation of one of my favorite stores, and a longtime Modesto bakery is opening a storefront in Turlock. Guerra in Modesto Bee 

Michael Fitzgerald: Making downtown Stockton a time zone — Spires salvaged from the Hunter Square fountain will be reborn as the shadow-casting part of a sundial in Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza, an urban revival group has announced. Whether that sundial tells accurate time is a whole ’nother story. One that detours into ancient science. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record


Lois Henry: Rebuilding our groundwater is the hot new water topic – I said more than a year ago that groundwater had become the new black. I was right then, so listen up when I tell you that “on-farm recharge” is the coming season’s must have companion piece to groundwater. Henry column in Bakersfield California

Drought sends Folsom Lake to record low as rain moves in – Folsom Lake’s water level sank to its lowest level in history Saturday, a vivid reminder of California’s epic drought even as a new winter storm moved into the region. The 60-year-old reservoir held 140,501 acre-feet of water at midafternoon, or roughly 14 percent of capacity, according to California Department of Water Resources data. Sacramento Bee article 

Ag crowd gives ‘Farmland’ a warm reception — An ag-friendly audience that included representatives from the Kings County agri-business world watched the sympathetic portrayal of six twentysomething farmers experiencing the challenge of taking over the reins from their parents on generational farms and ranches in California, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Texas and Georgia. Hanford Sentinel article 

Rain on the way as San Francisco residents prepare for El Nino — Throughout San Francisco, residents were preparing for the potentially wet winter ahead. City residents hauled away sandbags as part of an event held by the Department of Public Works and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commissioncalled “Sandbag Saturdays.” San Francisco residents were allowed to take 10 sandbags each at five separate locations in the city. San Francisco Chronicle article

How did some of California’s biggest water savers cut even more? By getting creative – In recent weeks, news reports have anticipated heavy El Niño rains in coming months, but a season’s rainfall — no matter how abundant — will not curethe drought that has plagued California in recent years. Californians still need to conserve, and Ventura and Santa Barbara offer strategies and tips that might work for the rest of us. Why were they so successful? LA Times article

Walnut bubble may be bursting in Sacramento Valley — This year many farmers, including Silva – who, along with his son Chris, runs the California Valley Nut Co. in Yuba City – are worried there’s a walnut bubble and it may be bursting. Although Chris Silva said per-pound prices are around $1.65 so far, that’s down from 2013’s average of $1.86. And in other parts of the state, growers have expressed concern about prices dropping to as low as $1.10 per pound. Sacramento Bee article


Dan Walters: California’s academic ratings targeted for repeal – If the API is repealed without a replacement measure for parent trigger, Romero says a lawsuit would be the next step, which would not be unusual. School reform and civil rights groups have often sued, usually successfully, in their battles with the establishment over accountability and other flashpoint issues. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Friends mourn Cal State Long Beach student killed in Paris terror attacks – A Cal State Long Beach student was among those killed in the Paris terrorist attacks, according to the university. Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old design student from the El Monte area, was part of an international exchange program at the Strate School of Design. She was dining with fellow Cal State Long Beach students at a Paris restaurant Friday night when she was killed, the university’s president said. The 16 other students studying in France have been reported safe. LA Times article


Nuclear power’s last stand in California: Will Diablo Canyon die? – The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, owned by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., is the last of its kind in the state. And in less than 10 years, it could close, ending nuclear power’s long history in California at the very moment that the state — determined to stop climate change — needs carbon-free electricity more than ever. San Francisco Chronicle article

Lewis Griswold: Tourist manager wants feature at Visalia sequoia tree — The 65-foot tall tree is a giant sequoia on the Valley floor instead of in the mountains of Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, its natural habitat. But that is what makes the tree ideal for Bianco’s latest brainstorm: To make it the focal point of a proposed “Sequoia Centennial Interpretive Feature” where tourists could learn more about the big trees. Griswold in Fresno Bee 

State proposing strict standards for LED bulbs, some forms of track lighting — The Sacramento-based California Energy Commission is pondering energy-efficient lighting standards that, if approved, would establish LED bulbs as a statewide staple and consign some forms of track lighting to history’s discard pile. Sacramento Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: Don’t forget home front on climate change — Paris may be under siege at many levels, but home fronts like California are where this climate war will be won or lost. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Jennifer Savage: Coastal Commission has right, responsibility to review projects – The California policy manager for the Surfrider Foundation writes, “In Dan Walters’ column, “Coastal panel ambitions” (Insight, Nov. 10), he ignores the heart of the California Coastal Commission’s responsibilities and distorts the commission’s intent.” Savage op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Land Use/Housing

Fresno leaders open universally accessible Inspiration Park – City officials joined Fresno residents Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of Inspiration Park, a universally accessible recreation facility in west Fresno. Inspiration Park is the first of its kind in the city, and offers a range of sports and recreation areas constructed to be accessible by all users. The park will include a universally accessible skate park, the first of its kind in the nation. Fresno Bee article

Hundreds march through southeast Fresno to demand parks, soccer fields — Hundreds of people – most of them children in brightly colored soccer uniforms – marched Saturday from Sunnyside Park in southeast Fresno to an empty plot of land on Peach Avenue that they hope will one day become a new soccer complex. Fresno Bee article

Residents uneasy about arrival of southwest congregate health facility — A new live-in medical facility for people recovering from serious illness or accident is believed to be the first of its kind in Bakersfield, but has its southwest-area neighbors are worried their family life and property values will be the first casualties. Bakersfield Californian article 

Kimberly Garza: Design can reconnect us with Sacramento’s greatest asset: The river – The landscape designer with Quadriga Landscape Architecture writes, “These are great initiatives that will deepen our connection with the river, yet hint at a larger question: How can Sacramento develop planning principles that respond to the 21st-century ecological and environmental challenges while reconnecting the city with the river in an authentic and playful way?” Garza op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Underwater pier detonated on old Bay Bridge early Saturday — Caltrans imploded an underwater pier of the old Bay Bridge eastern span at 7:17 a.m.Saturday, triggering 22,000 pounds of dynamite to pulverize the upper portion of the structure. San Francisco Chronicle articleSan Jose Mercury News article

Rash of hurt pedestrians leaves San Francisco’s Vision Zero out of focus — In a city where last year officials pledged to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2024 through an ambitious plan called Vision Zero, those charged with making the city’s streets safer for pedestrians urged patience as they do their best to tackle a complex problem with no easy solutions. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Ag development company says it is responsible for gas line explosion – An agriculture development company has claimed responsibility for Friday’sgas line explosion that killed one person and sent three more to a hospital with second- and third- degree burns. Though Pacific Gas & Electric declined to release the name of the company, the owner of Big N Deep Agricultural Development acknowledged it had been working in the area. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton mayor seeks 12 hours of prayer – Mayor Anthony Silva is turning to prayer in an effort to ease Stockton’s pain. Silva has announced he will host a 12-hour citywide prayer rally Monday that will begin outside City Hall at 6 a.m. before shifting shortly afterward to nearby Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza. Stockton Record article

Jeff Jardine: Time running out for family of 11 in shelter – Just two days after Thanksgiving, 11 members of a Modesto family could find themselves out on the streets. There simply aren’t many, if any, other options. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Local man’s websites could set freedom of speech precedent — A Bakersfield man’s campaign to get his money back after buying allegedly bogus rock ’n’ roll memorabilia online has sparked an East Coast legal battle observers say could pit Internet freedom of speech against businesses’ federal protection from “cyber-squatters.” Bakersfield Californian article 

Stockton NAACP: Seven ‘Freedom Fighters’ to be honored — Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman is to be honored by the Stockton NAACP chapter for her advocacy for equality at its annual Freedom Fund Banquet later this month. The Stockton Democrat is one of seven “Freedom Fighters” to be honored at the event that raises funds for, among other things, scholarships awarded by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Stockton Record article 

Barbara A. Kronlund: The honor and obligation of jury duty – The Supervising Civil Judge in San Joaquin County writes, “As supervising civil judge in San Joaquin County, I routinely preside over jury trials in my department, which, of course, involves the jury selection process. I remind jurors that jury duty is both an honor and an obligation, but it is not an option.” Kronlund op-ed in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Europe’s refugee catastrophe is only getting worse

Sacramento Bee – Paris may be under siege at many levels, but home fronts like California are where this climate war will be won or lost; The Sacramento County supervisors have now spent $17 million this year on homeless services and, after years of inaction, we commend them for it. It’s a good first step, but it’s not enough.

Maddy Events

Sunday, Nov. 15, at 10 a.m. on Fresno ABC30 – Maddy Report: Highway Funding:  Still Stuck in Political Gridlock” — Guests: Caltrans CFO Norma Ortega, Rob Lapsley, president of the California Business Roundtable); Chris McKenzie, executive director of the California League of Cities; and Matt Cate, executive director of the California Association of Counties; and Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Nov. 15, at 10 a.m. on KMJ (580AM and 105.9FM Radio/podcast) – Maddy Report – Valley Views Edition: “Farm to Market:  Maintaining the Valley’s Highways” – Guests: Tony Boren, executive director of the Fresno County of Governments; Ted Smalley, director of the Tulare Council of Governments; and and Caltrans District 6 Director Sharri Bender Ehlert. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

The Maddy Report airs throughout California on The Cal Channel.  Check to find the Cal Channel and schedule in your area.  You also can view previous Maddy Report programs in their entirety at


Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge – For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge 

Next 10: Federal budget challenge — The Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at

Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.

More Information

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Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here

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The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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