November 17, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Gov. Jerry Brown to campaign donors: Keep on giving — Less than two weeks after winning a fourth term, Gov. Jerry Brown plans to collect more money for his reelection committee Monday at a Sacramento reception with lobbyists and their clients.  LA Times article

New political generation on hold as elder Democrats hang on — When Rep. Mike Honda celebrated his hard-fought re-election win in Silicon Valley over fellow Democrat Ro Khanna, his victory speech crystallized one of his party’s biggest challenges in California as it looks toward the future. “There’s no reason to retire,” the 73-year-old Honda exulted when his narrow victory over Khanna, 38, was assured. “I’m going to live until 103. … I’m not going anywhere.”  San Francisco Chronicle article

Gov. Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown lets state Supreme Court vacancy linger – The California Supreme Court, which is supposed to have seven justices, has had only six for more than seven months, an interval that may be unprecedented and is at least the longest in a half century. The reason is inaction by Gov. Jerry Brown.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Gov. Jerry Brown honors Sikh ‘peach king’ — Clad in a blue head scarf, Gov. Jerry Brown went to the Sikh Temple of Sacramento on Sunday to honor the “peach king of California,” longtime political supporter Didar Bains, godfather to the region’s more than 50,000 Sikhs.  Sacramento Bee article


Victor Davis Hanson: Voting ‘no’ on Obama’s immigration policies — On matters of immigration, open-borders advocates have become reactionaries. Last week’s midterm results proved it.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Other areas

Gun rights showdown over Sunnydale law reaches appeals court – The gun rights lobby is about to take aim again at a Sunnyvale law banning possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines, the latest standoff proliferating in courts around the country over the boundaries of the constitutional right to bear arms.  San Jose Mercury News article

Who were California’s longest-serving senators? — Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer have been senators for nearly a generation — but they’re not yet California’s longest-serving senators. Both would need to run for a fifth full Senate term to dethrone Hiram Johnson. And the current runner-up is Alan Cranston, who served four six-year terms.  LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Rising retirement costs help drive UC plan to raise tuition — When the University of California Board of Regents on Wednesday debates a plan to raise tuition by up to 5 percent annually over each of the next five years, they will focus on how the revenue could benefit the university’s academic mission: expanded course offerings, more support services, 5,000 more slots for California students. But UC officials say the system also needs the money to help rescue its pension fund – neglected for two decades and facing $7.2 billion in unfunded liabilities – and to cover the growing cost of retiree health benefits. Sacramento Bee article

Why California’s drought is America’s problem – Despite a few recent downpours, California remains stuck in one of the most severe statewide droughts on record. But it’s far from just California’s problem. The state produces a huge percentage of the nation’s agriculture — nearly half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts, by some estimates. And that requires a massive amount of water: farms here use about 80 percent of the state’s developed water supply. KQED report

Jobs and the Economy

San Jose pension reform: New players, new ruling — In what looked like a referendum on a voter-approved pension reform, a supporter, Councilman Sam Liccardo, was narrowly elected mayor of San Jose. He defeated a union-backed reform opponent, Supervisor Dave Cortese, who conceded last week.  Calpensions article

Major ‘urban outlet’ retail center planned for Candlestick Point — The former stadium at Candlestick Point will become home to a 500,000-square-foot “urban outlet” shopping center under a new agreement reached between home builder Lennar Corp. and retail developer Macerich.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Mark Snyder: Proposition 65 can spell bankruptcy for many California small businesses – The proprietor of William Glen Inc. in Sacramento and a member of the Log Cabin Republicans writes, “For large businesses operating in multiple states, Proposition 65 is a regulatory headache. But for local, family-owned businesses like mine, the law can mean bankruptcy. Ultimately, a well-intentioned public health initiative has been perverted into a trial lawyer’s dream and an entrepreneur’s worst nightmare. It’s time for California to dismantle Proposition 65.” Snyder op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Steve Ballmer’s Clippers’ purchase:  Don’t write off tax-break potential — Ballmer could seek as much as half of the purchase price of the team in tax benefits over the next 15 years, according to accountants and sports business analysts familiar with the financial aspects of team ownership.  LA Times article


Turlock Irrigation District considers large water rate hikes — Farmers in the Turlock Irrigation District could see water prices more than double under a proposal going before its board Tuesday morning.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Picking ‘three-strikers’ to free poses complex challenge — More than 550 inmates have already been resentenced in Los Angeles County under the initiative, but the district attorney’s office is strongly opposing the release of another 530 or so third-strikers, such as Wallace, arguing that they haven’t been rehabilitated and remain a threat. LA Times article

Kern River Valley offers unique concept to reopen Lake Isabella court — Kern County Superior Court administrator Terry McNally is looking into a unique proposal from leaders in the Kern River Valley that could reopen the Lake Isabella court branch closed since 2013 by budget constraints. American Legion Post 711 of Lake Isabella has a plan for making the court cheap enough to reopen.  Bakersfield Californian article


George Skelton: UC tuition hike earns a failing grade – Don’t ask the kids and their families to sacrifice while fattening the pocketbooks of your own already highly compensated chancellors. That’s not fair to people in the real world of stressed taxpayers and parents struggling to pay their kids’ tuition. It’s why the people’s elected representatives — starting with the governor — are up in arms about the University of California’s latest tone-deaf play to jack up some executives’ pay while squeezing more money out of students.  Skelton column in LA Times

Sacramento Bee: UC funding measures the value we place on public education – As the UC Board of Regents meets this week in San Francisco to consider a proposal for a series of potential hikes in tuition, however, it’s one more thing – a question. What do Californians want now from their world-famous system of public education? What do we value? Where are our priorities?  Sacramento Bee editorial

Stockton Unified Police: Strategic plan sets forth priorities – Police Chief Bryon Gustafson will present the Stockton Unified School District Police Department’s first Three-Year Strategic Plan at Tuesday night’s board meeting.  Stockton Record article

Stockton Unified Police: ‘They have a safe place at school’ – Two school staffers stand careful guard over a syringe, just a few feet from the bark-covered playground that soon will be be packed with playing children. It’s the second syringe in as many days, they tell Officer Curtis Jue as he examines it on a recent chilly morning. It’s Halloween, and costumed students from the adjacent Walton Special Center are getting ready for a Monster Mash parade nearby.  Stockton Record article

Modesto school board to talk technology, policies on moving students — The Modesto City Schools board will weigh buying $1.3 million in laptops for elementary and junior high schools and discuss policies for shifting students between schools to even out class size at their meeting Monday.  Modesto Bee article

San Jose State clams up on no-bid Cisco contract — Unanswered questions are mounting in San Jose State’s handling of a $28 million, no-bid technology deal as campus leaders stonewall inquiries.  San Jose Mercury News article

Sacramento city schools focus on emotional learning — The students at the Pocket area school are among the first high school freshmen in the Sacramento City Unified School District to participate in an expanding program on social and emotional learning – or SEL. The aim, Edwards said, is to move students toward “responsible decision-making and making ethical and constructive choices about themselves and their social behavior.”  Sacramento Bee article

USC is no longer top U.S. spot for international students — For the first time in 13 years, USC has lost its title as the leader in recruiting lucrative foreign students, according to a new report.  LA Times article

Privacy concerns for tracking apps for schoolchildren — Many teachers say the ClassDojo app helps them automate the task of recording classroom conduct, but some critics say such apps are being adopted without enough consideration for data privacy and fairness.  New York Times article


Sacramento’s salmon run in full swing, but drought still a worry – A miraculous thing happens each fall in the Sacramento Valley, and it’s not the end of 100-degree weather: Salmon return to the area’s rivers and creeks.  Sacramento Bee article

Chemical firms try to reverse setbacks over California’s fire retardant rules — A dispute is smoldering in the Capitol over flameproof furniture. On one side are the makers of chemicals that are used to prevent home furnishings from catching fire. On the other are consumers who want fewer toxic compounds around the house.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Tobacco use still high among teens, CDC report says – One in 5 high school students reported using a tobacco product at least once within the past 30 days, and nearly half of them have tried a tobacco product at least once before, a nationwide study revealed.  Merced Sun-Star article

Disability system for veterans strays far from its official purpose – Routinely criticized in government reviews as out of touch with modern concepts of disability, the system has strayed far from its official purpose of compensating veterans for their lost earning capacity.  LA Times article

Tulare supervisors name Pierce new Step-Up administrator – Allison Pierce is the new Step-Up Program administrator. Pierce, who has been a county staff representative since 2011, took over the position early this month, following an appointment from the Tulare County Board of Supervisors.  Visalia Times-Delta article

California National Guard prepares for Ebola mission in West Africa – A unit of the California Army National Guard has been ordered to mobilize for possible deployment to West Africa to support U.S. and international efforts to stem the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.  LA Times article

Kelly Kulzer-Reyes: Pass ABLE Act and help families whose children have disabilities – The Pine Mountain Club resident writes, “The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act (H.R. 647/S.313) is currently before Congress and is a bipartisan piece of legislation that will vastly improve the lives of millions of people across the country living with disabilities.”  Kulzer-Reyes op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Other Areas

Modesto firm awarded construction contract for new coroner’s facility – Under a $4 million contract with Stanislaus County, a Modesto construction firm will remodel a building for relocating the Coroner’s Office.  Modesto Bee article

Merced City Council to talk districts, crime – The Merced City Council is expected to pick a demographer to design districts for local elections during the regular meeting Monday, as well as get a look at crime-prevention and economic programs.  Merced Sun-Star article

Del Monte demolition in downtown Fresno uncovers old industrial tunnel — Workers demolishing the old Del Monte plant in downtown Fresno to make way for California’s high-speed rail network recently uncovered an old industrial tunnel once used to move raisins under Tulare Street from one processing plant to another.  Fresno Bee article

Bee Investigator: How Modesto addresses noisy canines – If talking to your neighbor doesn’t work or isn’t an option, animal control might get involved, depending on where you live. Modesto residents have the best response and recourse in the Valley, according to Modesto Police Department Animal Control Unit Supervisor John Bear. Modesto Bee article

Fresno Good Samaritan garbage truck driver returns full wallet — The day started like any other work day for Heliodoro Banuelos. The 56-year-old Dinuba resident woke up Oct. 29 at 2:30 a.m. to be on time for his 4 a.m. shift as a garbage truck driver for Republic Services of Fresno. Then, around 1 p.m., he noticed something: A wallet. Fresno Bee article

Marian Kaanon: Giving pays off in more ways than one – The president and CEO of the Stanislaus Regional Foundation writes, “I’m pleased to announce that we recently passed the $10 million mark in grants and scholarships since our founding in 2002. Today, we administer more than 100 charitable funds that vary in their focus yet share a common purpose: to improve our region through philanthropy.”  Kaanon op-ed in Modesto Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California nursing homes cloak ownership for good reason.

Sacramento Bee – As the UC Board of Regents meets this week in San Francisco to consider a proposal for a series of potential hikes in tuition, however, it’s one more thing – a question. What do Californians want now from their world-famous system of public education? What do we value? Where are our priorities?; Protests, unrest a sign of Mexico healing from a bloody drug war.

Visalia Times-DeltaThumbs Up to the veterans of Tulare County and the residents who appreciate them.