November 16, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Millions poured into effort to bag the plastic-bag ban — Plastic bag manufacturers have poured $2.7 million into efforts to overturn California’s statewide ban on plastic bags in the seven weeks since Gov. Jerry Brown signed the historic legislation.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Voters may be tired of Boxer, Feinstein, but that doesn’t mean they would lose – If California elects a new United States senator in either 2016 or 2018, rejecting Boxer or Feinstein in the process, it will be because some flesh-and-blood candidate steps forward and convinces enough voters that, however imperfect they may be, the alternative they present is better — even marginally — than what the incumbents have to offer. It won’t be because Californians chose some mystery candidate lurking behind Door No. 1.  LA Times article

Gov. Brown

William Endicott: Jerry Brown’s easy win is reminiscent of Earl Warren – The former deputy managing editor of the Sacramento Bee writes, “At one of the few campaign rallies he held prior to cruising to an easy and historic fourth-term election, Gov. Jerry Brown told a reporter he had not felt the need to hold many rallies. ‘I don’t think we’ve needed them,’ he said. Indeed, not since Republican Earl Warren in 1946 has a gubernatorial candidate done so little to win so much.  Endicott op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Silva to run for San Joaquin County supervisor in 2016? — Mayor Anthony Silva said last week he is not yet prepared to declare he will seek a second term in 2016, but he also did not rule out a bid that year for the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.  Stockton Record article

Other areas

Sacramento lobbyist’s dual roles spark watchdog scrutiny — When Sen. Ricardo Lara ran for a Los Angeles-area seat in the Legislature in 2010, he turned to a veteran Sacramento campaign consultant to help him get elected: Richie Ross, who has decades of experience running campaigns for Democrats across California. Ross is also a lobbyist, representing a half-dozen unions, businesses and nonprofits as they work to shape policy in the state Capitol.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: What will it cost to cut our carbon? – When Democrat Jerry Brown succeeded Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor four years ago, some gubernatorial policies changed and some didn’t. The most prominent of the latter is the state’s cutting-edge efforts at reducing greenhouse gases, which both governors believe cause perilous climate change.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Dan Morain: A machine, big money and a lie in LA Assembly race — Mike Gipson won his Assembly race thanks to the clout of Rep. Maxine Waters and Assemblyman Isadore Hall, the California Democratic Party, heavy contributions from the moneyed interests that matter, and a lie.  Morain in Sacramento Bee

Despite losses, Pelosi’s power in the House remains undiminished — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has paid no public price for her party’s repeated defeats. Personally, she keeps racking up one-sided victories in her San Francisco congressional district. She just won her 15th term with 83 percent of the vote. A signature face of her party, Pelosi is poised to handily win re-election Nov. 18 as leader of the diminished House of Representatives Democrats.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Sacramento Bee: California, wise and centered, is the outlier again – California has found its way back from its own fringes while the rest of the nation continues to be manipulated by partisan extremes. How did we get here? The old-fashioned way: voters. Much extremism has been wrung out of California’s political process by recent ballot initiatives.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Mike Klocke: Views from the right, left and center — The Record publishes nine syndicated columns each week on its Opinion Page — one each on Monday through Friday and four on Sundays. During the lead-up to an election, and after the voters have their say, some readers get concerned about what is being written by those columnists. Klocke column in Stockton Record


News Briefs

Top Stories

Water tanks replace dry wells as drought victims prepare for winter — There are 810 dried wells at Tulare County homes, and water tanks may be their best chance to get running water for the winter. At the same time, county officials say the cost of all this triage could be $12 million annually — a cost the state would pick up.  Fresno Bee article

Bottled gold: Olive oil is a thriving business in San Joaquin County – Although the market for canned black olives has diminished, the demand for high quality olive oil has grown. There are 40 olive oil mills in California with others under construction or expansion. Statewide, olives for oil are grown on more than 35,000 acres and an estimated 3,500 new acres will be planted each year through 2020.  Fresno Bee article

Electricity rate hike mulled by Modesto Irrigation District — In nine days, the Modesto Irrigation District board will consider charging more for electricity used by virtually everyone in Modesto and several neighboring communities. People are accustomed to periodic rate hikes. What might be new is a growing awareness that MID’s 115,000 power customers have subsidized the utility’s signature service – irrigation water – by several million dollars each year.  Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Michelle Wild Anderson: A tale of two bankruptcies – The professor of law at Stanford Law School writes, “There were bittersweet tears last week in Detroit, and last month in Stockton, after bankruptcy judges approved both cities’ plans to restructure their debts. What should we learn from the two largest city bankruptcies in U.S. history?”  Anderson op-ed in Stockton Record


Stanislaus home sales prices dip in October – Stanislaus County home sales prices dipped a bit during October, but values continue to be substantially higher than a year ago. Median-priced homes sold for $215,000 last month, which was $5,000 less than September, according to property records gathered by CoreLogic DataQuest.  Modesto Bee article

Silicon Valley C-suites shut out blacks and Latinos – The executive suites of Silicon Valley look a lot like the rest of the industry’s workforce — that is, largely white. Black and Latino executives are sorely lacking in the tech industry according to a new survey from the Rainbow Push Coalition. The survey found that at 22 tech companies, there were just six black and three Latino C-level executives out of a total of 307 executives.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Number of stay-at-home dads trends upward nationally – In 2010, when the numbers peaked, 2.2 million dads stayed home — but that was a lingering effect of the 2007-2009 economic recession. Since then, declines in unemployment have pushed the number downward slightly to 2 million stay-at-home dads, as of 2012, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. The local number is elusive, however.  Bakersfield Californian article


Cannabis hedge funds join the green rush — The rapid spread of laws permitting recreational pot is enticing hedge fund managers, venture capitalists, software developers and many others to get in on what inevitably is being touted as a green rush.  LA Times article

City of Sacramento launches infrastructure building boom – The city of Sacramento is in the midst of an infrastructure construction boom. City officials said this week that they are in the middle of or are preparing to begin more than $400 million worth of improvements. The projects include street extensions, pedestrian bridges, water treatment projects and a major renovation of the historic downtown train depot.  Sacramento Bee article

Steve Lopez: Port truckers drive home difference between contractors and employees —  Daniel Linares, 58, hit the picket line last week at the ports. Why? I’m going to tell you why, because what’s happening at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports isn’t just about economic justice in a region with staggering income inequality, but there’s a possibility it could put a damper on your holiday season.  Lopez column in LA Times

Short-sellers in limbo waiting for mortgage forgiveness tax relief – The mortgage debt relief law expired Dec. 31, along with other special-interest tax breaks that usually would have been renewed as a package. That process broke down last year, however, leaving people who have received principal debt reductions during 2014 — whether through short sales, loan modifications or foreclosures — twisting in tax limbo.  LA Times article

Debra J. Saunders:  Sen. Dianne Feinstein goes to war against Airbnb — In her mind, Dianne Feinstein will always be mayor of San Francisco. She may be a high-ranking U.S. senator with more than her share of clout in Washington, but she never forgets her roots as onetime mayor and supervisor in the city by the bay. As Ess Eff’s mayor emerita, Feinstein recently inserted herself into the city’s regulation of Airbnb and other short-term rental concerns.  Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle

Bags pile high at 16th annual Stuff the Bus – The green sedan eased up next to a cluster of volunteers in matching maroon shirts when someone raised the call: “We’ve got a trunk full!” The full trunk emptied fast as the volunteers carried boxes and bags of food up the ramp into a waiting bus in a Food 4 Less parking lot on Saturday, the second day of the 16th annual Stuff the Bus food drive. It continues today in Stockton, as well as spots in Lodi, Manteca and Escalon.  Stockton Record article

Modesto Scouts help fill food bank shelves — The Boy Scouts did a good deed Saturday, loading little red wagons and pickup beds with bags of groceries bound for the lean shelves of local food banks.  Modesto Bee article


Farmers shift to permanent crops, despite water uncertainty – During this drought, much has been written about the rapid conversion of vegetable row crops to more profitable fruit and nut orchards, given California’s tenuous water supply. Unlike row crops, orchards cannot be fallowed during times of shortage. But in some areas, including the eastern fringes of San Joaquin County, orchards are being planted in areas that have never been irrigated before, or at least, only sporadically over the past 150 years. Primarily, these were rolling grasslands for dry-land wheat farming and cow-grazing.  Stockton Record article

Modesto Bee: What are the threats to our water? – It’s plastered on the sides of the buses, it blares from the radio, it’s even taught in schools: “Every drop is precious.” But in the midst of a three-year drought, our region’s water security is under attack. Some of the threats.  Modesto Bee editorial

Lois Henry: Looky here! An ‘unlimited’ supply of new water – Emergency drought funding announced last spring by Gov. Jerry Brown may soon be making its way into local hands. Four Kern County agencies landed a combined $12 million, according to the State Department of Water Resources. They four have very different projects but all have the same goal — increasing the local water supply.  Bakersfield Californian article

Robbie Hunter: Ocean water is answer to drought – The president of the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California writes, “Just as our communities take advantage of a mix of energy sources to minimize costs while maximizing access, we support the use of desalination, along with conservation and wastewater recycling, as a source of “new water” for California.”  Hunter op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Jeff Jardine: Lake-level watching is new tourism fad – Still, lake-level watching has become the new low-budget tourism fad. With a tank of gas and a sack lunch, people are going to the lakes not to fish or boat, but to look. Granted, they don’t contribute much to the local tourism economy. But for those who do their homework, history is drip-drying before their very eyes. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

California drought hits San Mateo County coast particularly hard — The historic statewide drought has struck especially hard along the southern San Mateo County coast. While other parts of the Bay Area are served by big water agencies with steady if shrinking supplies, most of the homes and small farms here, less than an hour’s drive from Silicon Valley, rely on creeks and wells, many of which have stopped flowing.  San Francisco Chronicle article


James Vernon: Who will pay for the University of California? – The professor of history at UC Berkeley writes, “Faced with presiding over the ruin of the world’s best public university, UC’s administrators are up a creek looking for a paddle. While they have ensured they are very well paid, they have energetically cut costs elsewhere and sought new sources of revenue. Yet almost all the steps they have taken to increase revenue make it harder for ordinary families to maintain the Californian dream.” Vernon op-ed in Sacramento Bee

UC resists law requiring disclosure of expenditures – The University of California has so far failed to comply with a new state law pushed by Gov. Jerry Brown requiring it to disclose, for the first time, key details about how it spends its money — information state officials want especially now that UC is asking the regents to approve five years of tuition increases.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Salary vs. experience: Kern High School District teachers say pay falls short — What they will make this school year, on average, is $72,058, according to the district. That’s $2,748 more than they averaged in 2013-2014. But in a district where half of employees with professional certification have at least 10 years of experience, educators say the number is low.  Bakersfield Californian article

One student, 60 college applications.  How many is too many? – For members of the Class of 2015 who are looking at more competitive colleges, their overtaxed counselors say, 10 is now commonplace; 20 is taking on a familiar ring; even 30 is not beyond imagining. And why stop there?  New York Times article

Larry White: ‘Village’ concept far more than a cliché — The benefits of a literate population mean greater opportunities for employment and income and a reduction of poverty. It means a better life for children and a desire for a community to restrict drugs, gangs, and crime so that those children can grow up healthy and educated.  White column in Stockton Record



Modesto Irrigation District critics assail forced subsidy — People concerned at the prospect of higher electric bills are starting to line up. The latest include Paul Baxter, a former Modesto deputy city manager, and Steve Mohasci, who worked for an investor-owned utility in Iowa. Both are retired.  Modesto Bee article; ‘Varying pressures on Modesto irrigation leaders’ in Modesto Bee

Dick Hagerty: Yosemite will still be a fantastic bargain at $30 — Yosemite, at any price, is a bargain. And I suspect the additional 10 bucks will have little impact on the number of visitors while giving the Park Service much-needed funds to keep our park open to all comers. Hagerty column in Modesto Bee

Health/Human Services

Health insurance enrollment begins in Valley – After signing up for health care coverage for the first time in his life, Leland Nelson of Fresno was met with cheers and applause on Saturday from a room full of volunteers.  Fresno Bee article

Premature births costly, beg ethical questions — The state of California has reduced its pre-term births to below the national average, but Kern County’s rate remains stubbornly high. That’s a public health concern. Nationally, premature babies cost society at least $26.2 billion a year, according to a 2006 report from the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies.  Bakersfield Californian article; ‘Bakersfield preemie a miracle child’ in Bakersfield Californian

James Gomez: Nearly two-thirds of state skilled-nursing facilities rank at highest level – The CEO and president of the California Association of Health Facilities writes, “No matter which industry is measured, there will always be those that fall above and below the median. However, The Bee series went to great lengths to identify companies with ‘lower than average’ staffing when those same companies actually met or exceeded the state’s staffing requirements.”  Gomez op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Evaluating California’s stem cell experiment — Today, however, no California-financed cures or therapies have reached the clinic and none are likely to do so for years, if then. The agency is spending money at a rate of $21,000 an hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. More than $1.8 billion has been awarded, with 88 percent of it going to institutions linked to persons who are or have been on the agency’s board of governors, according to calculations by the California Stem Cell Report, a website that has followed the agency since 2005.  Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno and Madera counties see big drop in homeless population – Fresno is making real progress in helping the homeless — and more help is on the way, local officials promise. The number of homeless people in Fresno and Madera counties fell nearly 40% in the past four years, according to a recent census sponsored by the federal government.  Fresno Bee article

HUD secretary says LA, nation on track to house all homeless vets — The U.S. is on track to end veteran homelessness by the end of next year, even in Los Angeles, the epicenter of the problem, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro said Saturday.  LA Times article


Conversations are more effective for screening passengers, study finds — Airport screeners are wasting their time trying to spot bad guys simply by checking out the body language of travelers. That is the conclusion of a new report published by the American Psychological Assn. It said security agents are 20 times more successful at spotting deception when they question passengers than when they simply look for physical clues.  LA Times article

Other Areas

Campaign to address abandoned, blighted properties in Fresno reaches 100-day mark – A campaign to highlight the toll of abandoned and blighted properties on Fresno residents reached its 100-day mark on Saturday. For more than three months, the nonprofit advocacy group Faith in Community has been posting a photo a day of one of these neglected properties on its Facebook page and in its Twitter feed.  Fresno Bee article

Modesto to pay $370,000 over discrimination lawsuit – Modesto has agreed to pay $370,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a former police sergeant who claims he faced discrimination and harassment, such as being subjected to racial slurs, because he is Mexican American.  Modesto Bee article

David and Derek Carr find a new purpose with Bakersfield training facility — There’s a big building west of here that’s Bulldog red and trimmed in white, which should be no surprise since it houses a special project belonging to David and Derek Carr.  Fresno Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: Photographer explores worth of words – Renowned photographer Robert Dawson is in town, shooting a yearlong project called “Raising Literacy: A Photographic Survey of Libraries and Literacy in San Joaquin County.”  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Our Diversity: Sikhs’ roots strong in Stockton — More than 5,000 Northern Californians call the temple home, even though bigger Sikh houses of worship have been built elsewhere. This is where their faith took root in the United States.  Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – Europeans give the rest of us a gee-whiz moment with comet landing; California nursing home cloak their ownership for good reason.

Modesto Bee – It’s plastered on the sides of the buses, it blares from the radio, it’s even taught in schools: “Every drop is precious.” But in the midst of a three-year drought, our region’s water security is under attack. Some of the threats.

Sacramento Bee – California has found its way back from its own fringes while the rest of the nation continues to be manipulated by partisan extremes. How did we get here? The old-fashioned way: voters. Much extremism has been wrung out of California’s political process by recent ballot initiatives.