November 20, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: Business does well in Capitol – The Capitol’s longest running conflict, as often noted in this space, pits business and employer groups against labor unions, environmentalists, consumer advocates and personal injury attorneys. Each year, the latter four introduce their agendas in a Legislature dominated by Democrats, and the former gear up to thwart those agendas. Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Tom Steyer gives cigarette tax million-dollar boost – As promised, billionaire liberal benefactor Tom Steyer has made a hefty contribution to a campaign seeking to raise California’s tax on tobacco products. Better known for his substantial spending on environmental causes, Steyer, a former hedge fund manager, made good on his promise to back the tobacco tax campaign by announcing a $1 million contribution on Thursday. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Gov. Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown asks White House for more information on refugees — California Gov. Jerry Brown was on the phone with White House officials on Tuesday to press for more information on Syrian refugees, one of the governor’s top aides confirmed. LA Times article

CalPERS pay-down plan isn’t fast enough for Gov. Jerry Brown — If there is one thing that Gov. Jerry Brown has made a calling card since returning to office in 2011, it’s a push toward paying down government debt. And yet his reaction to Wednesday’s decision to do just that by directors of theCalifornia Public Employees’ Retirement System was an angry one. LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Joel Fox: California budget looks good – that’s bad news for tax raisers — Those promoting tax increase measures for the 2016 General Election ballot must be a little chagrined by the economic outlook report issued by the Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) yesterday. Sure, they are happy that the state’s revenue outlook looks good, but talk of surpluses, a bulging treasury, and healthy reserve fund could wreck havoc with multiple campaigns seeking tax increases. Fox in Fox & Hounds


Why fewer Mexicans are leaving their homeland for U.S. — To its southern neighbor, the United States once represented hope, safety and prosperity. But with the effects of the Great Recession still lingering and tougher enforcement along the U.S. border, fewer Mexicans see a reason to leave their homeland. LA Times articleAP articleNew York Times article

Syrians’ arrival at U.S. border crossing raises concerns of a flood of asylum seekers — Eight Syrians showed up at a Texas border crossing seeking asylum this week, sparking concern that the U.S. could soon be facing a wave of Syrian migrants across the southern border. LA Times article

Other areas

McCarthy supports tougher refugee screening – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, spoke out in support of a bill approved by the full House of Representatives Thursday that would require tougher screening for refugees entering the United States. Bakersfield Californian article

Inside the Syrian refugee vote: California representatives explain what shaped their votes —  An Obama administration push urging lawmakers to oppose legislation that would effectively halt a program for refugees from Syria and Iraq failed to convince eight California Democrats who joined their Republican colleagues Thursday to pass the measure by a veto-proof majority. LA Times articleMcClatchy Newspapers article

Teachers union allies demand Kevin Johnson resign over sex allegations — A Los Angeles-based organization and local activists want Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to resign in light of resurfaced allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Sacramento Bee article

Advocates, legislators read names of 11,000 foster children on Capitol steps – The noise of tourists and joggers that usually fills Capitol Park was disrupted Thursday by a sobering five-hour roll call: “Serenity, 8. Dustin, 13. Hugo, 11.” Legislators and people from the community held the podium from 10.a.m. to 2 p.m. reading the first names and ages of 11,000 children in the state foster care system, part of their bid to draw attention to what they said was the desperate need to find good homes for foster children. Sacramento Bee article

California vintner John Jordan wants to shape politics – on his own terms – John Jordan got his first taste of politics when he ran for vice president of his fifth-grade class. He wasn’t the most popular kid in class. He wasn’t even aware of the cliques that favored his rivals. He lost. LA Times article

Lawyer: DOJ violated Clovis gun collector’s constitutional rights — A Clovis gun collector who had more than 500 firearms taken from him by the California Department of Justice didn’t even know he was in a law enforcement database that prohibits him from having guns until agents showed up at his home, his lawyer said Thursday. Fresno Bee article

News Stories

Top Stories

UC Merced clears key hurdle for growth — The University of California Board of Regents approved the plans for the next phase of growth at UC Merced, what officials say will be an economic boon for the city and the region. Merced Sun-Star articleLA Times article

UC advances plan to enroll 10,000 more resident students – The University of California is expected to adopt a budget plan Friday that will add 10,000 new slots for resident students over the next three years. On Thursday, the finance committee of UC’s governing board approved the proposal, sending it to a vote before the entire Board of Regents. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Jose Mercury News articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee editorial

Fresno City Council approve development code – The Fresno City Council on Thursday night approved an updated set of rules and regulations that will guide how the city will grow, look and feel over the coming years, if not decades. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Ruling on Stockton bankruptcy appeal expected early next year – Read what you want into the comments, but one of three judges hearing an appeal by Stockton’s major bankruptcy creditor sounded Thursday afternoon like a man whose sympathy for Franklin Templeton Investment’s legal appeal stretches only so far. Stockton Record article

Michael Fitzgerald: Will helping unions help Stockton’s poor? – Stockton went bankrupt, in part, because City Hall gave public unions special treatment. So it was unsettling Tuesday to see the City Council preparing to give preference to trade unions. The Council unanimously endorsed the concept of a “Project Labor Agreement,” or PLA. Also called a community workforce agreement, it gives unions first crack at public works projects of more than $1 million. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Measure A committee hears from deputy police chief, library supporters – As much as police staffing and preventing violence are on the minds of Stockton’s seven-member Measure A Citizens’ Advisory Committee, they were reminded during their meeting Thursday that services to the public — specifically libraries — also come under their purview. Stockton Record article

StanCOG leaders hire PR firm to promote tax – Leaders throughout Stanislaus County agreed to spend another $100,000 on a public relations firm spreading the word about a transportation tax heading for a countywide vote in November 2016. Modesto Bee article

Clovis Sprouts store to open in February, hire 100 workers — The Sprouts Farmers Market in the works in Clovis has announced an opening date: Feb. 17. Workers have almost finished construction on the grocery store, which is taking over 28,000 square feet of the former Save Mart at the southeast corner of Clovis and Herndon avenues. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Sacramento’s Blue Diamond sets another revenue record – Sacramento-based Blue Diamond Growers has posted another record revenue year. Grower-owners attending the cooperative’s 105th annual meeting Wednesday in Modesto were told that global almond sales revenue totaled $1.6 billion for the year ending Aug.28, 2015. Sacramento Bee article; Modesto Bee article

Ken Carlson: ‘Cowboy Capital’ and other Stanislaus cities begin discussions on homelessness – Cities in Stanislaus County have started to hold their own discussions on homelessness, a topic capable of drawing a sizable crowd these days. Carlson in Modesto Bee

LA’s chronic homelessness problem is largest in the nation – Los Angeles city and county have the most chronically homeless people in the country, and nearly all of them sleep on the streets, according to figures released Thursday by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department. LA Times article 

Strictly Business: Nonprofit leader aims to build stronger, more passionate board members — Community leaders on Wednesday held a webinar at The Californian’s studio to discuss the importance of local nonprofits and their boards. Together Shonna Shearson, of Kern Schools Federal Credit Union and Angela Paquette, of Bakersfield College, talked about the dedication it takes to be a part of local nonprofit boards. Bakersfield Californian article

Home building triples in Los Banos – Home construction has improved here with the city administering 120 permits to build so far this year, tripling last year’s total, according to city leaders. Merced Sun-Star article

Sacramento County sees strong year-over-year gains in home sales — October sales of all homes in Sacramento County were up 10.2 percent from the same month in 2014, representing the best October showing in three years, market researcher CoreLogic said Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

Animated startup makes finals of business contest – Michael Boyer won the fifth and final regional round of the Stanislaus Innovation Challenge with his idea for online animated entertainment. Modesto Bee article

As for an NFL return to Los Angeles, here is where we stand — The clock is winding down on the likelihood of the NFL‘s return to Los Angeles by the 2016 season, and the situation is as murky as ever. LA Times article

Laphonza Butler: Home health workers need living wage – The provisional president of SEIU Local 2015 writes, “If we raise wages, not only will workers be able to continue to stay in this important field, but more will be willing to join this difficult but rewarding workforce. By paying our care workers a livable wage, they will no longer need to worry about putting food on the table or paying their rent. Instead, they can commit to caring for our old and vulnerable.” Butler op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Robin Abcarian: Quicker than pizza delivery: Medical marijuana service aims to satisfy — Carlos and I are bombing around San Francisco in his 1999 Maxima, delivering marijuana to people who have ordered it from Eaze, a company that many have called the “Uber of cannabis.” I had forgotten how fast 25-year-old guys like to drive. But this is good, because Eaze boldly promises customers, all of whom must have medical marijuana cards, that they will receive their weed in 15 minutes or less. Abcarian in LA Times


El Nino seen as easing drought as odds of wet winter rise again – Nearly all of California is soon likely to see at least some relief from the unrelenting four-year drought, federal climate experts said Thursday. The strengthening El Niño is expected to send enough rain and snow to the Golden State this winter, scientists said, that water shortages and crop losses will finally begin to recede from the Mexico border almost all the way to Oregon. San Francisco Chronicle article 

California drought: Recent storms help Sierra snowpack, not water supply — The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor update says the storms that have brought snow to the Sierra Nevada had no effect on California’s long-term water supply deficit. Capital Public Radio report

Water leaders debate post-drought future during Clovis symposium — Some of the state’s top water officials, along with local farmers and activists, convened in Clovis on Thursday to talk about agriculture and the impact of the drought. Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Parole denied again for convict in 1976 Chowchilla school bus hijacking – The last of three men convicted of hijacking a school bus full of California children nearly four decades ago has been denied parole for the 16th time. A panel decided Thursday that Frederick Woods will stay in prison. He can apply for parole again in three years. AP article

A cop’s worst fear: Being targeted for doing your job – For police officers, the idea of being targeted because of their job has long been a fear that comes with the job. LA Times article

Police: Shooting in southwest Fresno may be tied to gangs — Police believe that a shooting in which five people were wounded Wednesday night in southwest Fresno is gang-related. Lt. Burke Farrah of the department’s Street Violence Section said the incident at California Avenue and Martin Luther King Boulevard was probably “motivated by ongoing gang feuds.” Fresno Bee article

Sacramento Bee: At last, oversight the Sheriff’s Department needs – If ever there was a right man for the job of Sacramento County inspector general, Rick Braziel is it. The former Sacramento city police chief has the right experience and temperament, and so we’re thankful the Board of Supervisors managed to coax him out of retirement. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Merced DA’s son files lawsuit claiming wrongful prosecution in 2013 homicide – A lawsuit filed Thursday claims Merced County sheriff’s detectives lied about evidence, threatened key witnesses and ignored facts showing that Ethan B. Morse was innocent of any crimes in connection with the 2013 slaying of a gang member. Merced Sun-Star article

Pilots learning to fly Kings’ sheriff’s office new airplane — The Kings County Sheriff’s Office now has a better way of responding to cases faster and tracking them easier. After more than a year of trying to make it happen, the department has finally received a new two-person airplane to assist with law enforcement efforts. The $471,000 plane is being held at the city of Hanford’s hangar at the Hanford airport. Hanford Sentinel article 

Southland counties sued over ‘excessive’ phone fees in jail systems — Jail inmates and their families filed a lawsuit Thursday against Los Angeles County as well as nearby counties, alleging that the fees for inmate telephone calls are “grossly unfair and excessive” and amount to a moneymaking scheme for local governments. LA Times article


Cal State sets policy on presidential pay – Cal State trustees approved a plan Wednesday to restrict pay for new campus presidents — eliminating the use of private funds to supplement salaries — in a move to quell criticism and controversy in the nation’s largest university system. LA Times article

Fresno Bee: Fresno Unified drags its feet on federal investigation – The Fresno Unified School District board of trustees is setting a poor example for students with its tardy response to a federal subpoena for documents related to school building projects with the Harris and the Bush construction firms. The subpoena was served in August. Fresno Bee editorial

Fresno Unified board to review Hanson’s performance — The Fresno Unified school board will evaluate Superintendent Michael Hanson’s performance at its Dec. 9 meeting. Fresno Bee article

Analyst predicts another good year for school funding – The Legislative Analyst’s Office is projecting another healthy year for K-12 schools, with an average increase of about $530 per student in 2016-17. That’s about half of the average $1,011-per-student increase for 2015-16, but this year’s increase was unusually large – about 11 percent. EdSource article

Paul A. Garcia: Summit addresses bold initiatives for minority students in Fresno County – The retired educator writes, “The Valley cannot wait another 50 years before radical measures are taken to accelerate the academic achievement of Latino and other ethnic and racial minority students from pre-K through college. Garcia op-ed in Fresno Bee

Stanford warns warn of possible sanctions while protest expands – After four long days, protest-weary Stanford University officials agreed Thursday to meet with students while also threatening academic penalties and the possibility of police action unless they end a sit-in at the school’s administration offices. San Jose Mercury News article

Protests over race at Occidental are ‘just the beginning,’ students say – They had occupied the administration building at Occidental College for days, giving it the vibe of a packed airport waiting area, with power cords snaking across the floor, students typing quietly on their laptops and sleeping bags at the ready. But, on Wednesday night, the protest went mobile. LA Times article

High school Sex Ed teaching ‘Yes Means Yes’ rape prevention – Sex education in American schools is evolving beyond slideshows on reproductive biology and lectures on avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. The new focus: teaching students communication skills, such as the “yes means yes” standard for seeking and giving consent during intimate encounters. LA Times article 

San Francisco State students block plan for exclusive soda deal – A controversial “pouring rights” contract at San Francisco State University fizzled out Thursday when the college’s president promised to drop the deal. San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report

Los Banos students learn about wildlands, work to restore them – Students from Pacheco High School worked Thursday on a restoration project at Bowles Farming Co. near Los Banos as part of a program that promotes healthy relationships among nature, agriculture and society. Merced Sun-Star article 

Caller threatened to ‘shoot people’ at Golden Valley High — Golden Valley High School was locked down Thursday morning after police received a 911 call from a male who said he was at the school and would “shoot people” if certain demands weren’t met. Officers from several agencies responded to the campus following the 8:42 a.m. call, but were unable to locate any immediate threat, police said. Bakersfield Californian article 

Here’s what parents have to say about union efforts at Alliance charter schools — The fight to unionize the largest provider of charter schools in Los Angeles is beginning to divide parents. LA Times article 

Sacramento State gets green light on long-awaited science facility — Sacramento State University won funding approval Wednesday for a new $91 million science building overlooking the American River. Science II will be built on a parking lot just north of the student bookstore, with modern classrooms, laboratories and amenities. Sacramento Bee article


California emissions rules charge debate over all-electric cars vs. hybrids –As automakers display new plug-in hybrids and electric cars at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, they are also drawing battle lines in a regulatory fight over California’s ambitious zero-emissions vehicle targets. LA Times article 

Human-bear incidents reach record low in Yosemite – The bears inYosemite National Park are behaving better than they have in 40 years. The park recorded the lowest number of human-bear incidents since 1975, when officials started tracking bears, who damage property, steal food, injure or kill people or act aggressively. AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

CO2: Earth passes into ‘uncharted territory’ — This week, you can watch as Earth passes a threshold not seen for at least a million years. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the air will rise above 400 parts per million. And scientists predict neither you nor your children will ever see it go below 400 ppm again. KQED report

Fresno City Council chooses builder for southeast water treatment plant – The Fresno City Council on Thursday took a major step forward on one of the biggest capital works projects in City Hall history, awarding a $158.8 million contract to build a massive water treatment plant past the southeast fringes of the city. Fresno Bee article

Flood gate approved for Smith Canal — A local flood-control board agreed Thursday to build a $29 million wall and gate across the mouth of Smith Canal, overruling objections from a small group of nearby landowners while also attempting to calm fresh concerns about whether the project will remove thousands of homeowners from a high-risk flood zone. Stockton Record article

Quake retrofit grants expanding to more single-family California homes — State funding next year will allow 1,000 owners to receive grants of up to $3,000 to retrofit homes with a common earthquake flaw. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Berkeley: First-in-nation soda tax begins to show results – Despite the lack of hard data so far, researchers are drawing a connection between higher soda prices and reduced consumption, enough so for one, Jennifer Falbe, of the UC Berkeley School of Public Health, to proclaim, “I would say there is evidence that (the tax) is beginning to work, that it’s going in the right direction.” Oakland Tribune article

Thousands enroll in Covered California’s new adult dental insurance – Thousands of California adults are signing up for dental insurance offered for the first time by Covered California, the state’s Obamacare marketplace, officials said Wednesday. KQED report

UnitedHealth may dump Obamacare plans, putting California expansion in doubt — Industry giant UnitedHealth warned it may quit selling Obamacare coverage across the country, raising questions about an expansion in California. The nation’s largest health insurer cut its earnings forecast Thursday, citing slower growth on public exchanges under the Affordable Care Act and higher-than-expected claims for those individual policies. LA Times article

Genetically engineered salmon is fit for dinner, FDA says in first decision of its kind – On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration announced that the AquAdvantage salmon — developed using growth hormone from Chinook salmon and a gene from an eel-like ocean fish that makes it reach market size twice as quickly as other salmon — has become the first genetically engineered animal approved for American consumption. LA Times articleNew York Times article

Uber offers $10 flu shots on demand — Uber, the app that lets you hail a ride in a stranger’s car, is now delivering flu shots to people in 35 cities across the United States, including San Francisco, Boston and New York. And you don’t have to take a ride anywhere or stop by a pharmacy to get inoculated. KQED report 

E-cigarette explosions prompt three lawsuits in California – Garza’s attorney, Gregory L. Bentley, said Thursday that he had filed a product liability lawsuit against the e-cigarette’s manufacturer and designer, Flawless Vapes & Supplies, LLC; the Bakersfield store where Garza bought the battery and device, Luxor Cafe & Vape Lounge; and the Bakersfield store where he bought his e-cigarette charger, Vape Fame. LA Times article 

California health watchdog sues more e-cigarette companies – The Oakland-based Center for Environmental Health is again suing e-cigarette companies for violating California’s product-labeling law. KPBS report

Stockton Record: County hospital: Success story – At times during the 1990s, there were serious discussions among county leaders about whether San Joaquin General Hospital should be shuttered. And yet here we are, two decades later, with another generally positive economic report for the hospital, which has turned into a significant local success story. Stockton Record editorial 

New health center to open in east Fresno — Clinica Sierra Vista is set to open up its newest Fresno-based health center in late November. The new clinic, on the east side of Fresno near the airport area, will serve that part of Fresno. The health center will have four exam rooms, a treatment room, vitals room, nurse’s station, and offices for the providers and clinic managers. Fresno Bee article

Carla Kimball: New license plates would go beyond pink – The six-year breast cancer survivor and member of Survivor Sisters writes, “In the case of the license plates, funds from their sale will be directed to the state Every Woman Counts program, which provides free clinical breast exams and mammograms to underserved women. Death rates from breast cancer have fallen dramatically in recent years, thanks in large part to advances in diagnostics and increased awareness of the importance of early and regular screenings.” Kimball op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Land Use/Housing

Fresno State students unveil tiny house project — Construction management students at Fresno State are building a tiny house. The 200-square-foot pint-sized house on wheels made its campus debut on Monday to raise awareness about the movement to simplify life into itty-bitty living space while showing off what Fresno State students are doing. Fresno Bee article


Key North County Corridor documents postponed once more – A long-awaited milestone in the North County Corridor planning process for an expressway skirting Modesto, Riverbank and Oakdale has been delayed yet again, with public release of key documents expected in January followed by a public hearing on Jan. 28. Modesto Bee article 

Airport commission approves a private LAX lounge for the rich and famous – A proposal to build a posh private lounge at Los Angeles International Airportfor Southern California’s glitterati was approved Thursday in a move that officials hope will reduce disturbances by paparazzi, looky-loos and autograph-seekers in the busy central terminal area.  LA Times article

Other areas

Hanford scales back city commissions — The Hanford City Council made some changes to some of its advisory commissions Tuesday, but not without a bit of resistance. The council voted 3-2 to eliminate the Hanford Tree Commission and merge it with the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission. The vote also reduced all city commissions to five members. Mayor Russ Curry and Vice Mayor David Ayers opposed the change. Hanford Sentinel article

Foster Farms selects this year’s presidential turkey — Two Foster Farms turkeys were selected Thursday morning for an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. They’ll stay at The Willard hotel, where Barack Obama spent the night before being inaugurated, take a motorcade to the White House and visit the Rose Garden, where – and here’s the real prize – one will be presented as the National Thanksgiving Turkey and receive a presidential pardon. The second, or backup, turkey also will be spared. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Uninsured motorists still clog California roads; The Fresno Unified School District board of trustees is setting a poor example for students with its tardy response to a federal subpoena for documents related to school building projects with the Harris and the Bush construction firms. The subpoena was served in August.

Sacramento Bee – If ever there was a right man for the job of Sacramento County inspector general, Rick Braziel is it; How much more budget wizardry will we demand of UC?

Stockton Record – Say a little prayer for us; At times during the 1990s, there were serious discussions among county leaders about whether San Joaquin General Hospital should be shuttered. And yet here we are, two decades later, with another generally positive economic report for the hospital, which has turned into a significant local success story.

Maddy Events

Sunday, Nov. 22, at 5 p.m. on Fresno ABC30 – Maddy Report: California’s Right to Die Law: Facing an Age Old Question — Guests: UC Davis Professor Ben Rich, The Arc of California Executive Director Tony Anderson, and Disability Rights California Legislative Advocate Deborah Doctor. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler. 

Sunday, Nov. 22, at 7 a.m. on Univision 21 (KFTV) and UniMas 61 (KTFF) – El Informe Maddy: “Environmental and Water Issues in California” – Guest: Miryam Barajas of the State Water Resources Control Board. Host: Maddy Institute Deputy Director Ana Melendez. 

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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