November 21, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Obama spurns GOP with expansive immigration orders – Spurning furious Republicans, President Barack Obama unveiled expansive executive actions on immigration Thursday night to spare nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation and refocus enforcement efforts on “felons, not families.”  AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; New York Times article; ‘Your complete guide to Obama’s immigration executive action’ in Washington Post; Transcript of Obama’s address; Sacramento Bee editorial; NPR report

Feinstein shuts off California water talks until 2015 — Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California on Thursday pulled the plug on secret, high-stakes negotiations over a water bill for her drought-plagued state, saying she and fellow lawmakers will try again next year. Feinstein’s unexpected move ends, for now, what had become an increasingly contentious fight over ambitious drought-fighting legislation whose details few people have seen.  McClatchy Newspapers article; AP article

State budget

Dan Walters: Brown tries to hold the line on spending – Entering his final term and hoping to leave state finances in the black as a legacy, Brown is even less susceptible to pressure from spending advocates.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Fiscal outlook brighter – but fingers crossed – California, long bedeviled by daunting budget deficits, is likely to end the next fiscal year with $4.2 billion in reserve, with half that amount due to a budget-reform measure that voters approved on Nov. 4, according to the Legislature’s nonpartisan financial adviser.  Capitol Weekly article

Gov. Brown

For Jerry Brown, tough going with UC regents — The animosity with which Brown and the Board of Regents fought this week in San Francisco laid bare how far apart the governor and one of the state’s most powerful institutions have become – and how difficult it will be for Brown to exert influence over UC in his fourth term.  Sacramento Bee article


Agriculture largely left out of White House immigration plan – Farm and livestock producers said President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration announced Thursday will do little to help farm operators struggling to get the workers they need and could drive more agricultural production outside the United States.  USA Today article

Dan Walters Daily: Obama immigration plan has wide repercussions in California – With more undocumented immigrants than any other state, California will feel the biggest effects of President Barack Obama’s new immigration plan, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Winners and losers in Obama’s immigration policy changes – President Obama unveiled a long-awaited series of changes to the nation’s immigration policies Thursday evening. While most of the details have yet to be announced, here’s a general overview of what to expect in the coming months, based on information provided by the White House.  Washington Post article

Obama ends Secure Communities program as part of immigration action – For the immigrant advocates who for years have been calling on President Obama to curtail deportations, the Secure Communities program symbolized what was wrong with the nation’s immigration enforcement strategy.  LA Times article

Fresno immigrants, experts react to Obama’s executive action plan – Jesus Zúñiga has waited 14 years for the possibility of obtaining legal status in the United States.  Fresno Bee article

Central Valley undocumented immigrants see hope in Obama action – Six years ago, Rosa Acevedo left her daughter Moraina, 3, at home with her parents in Mexico so she could chase her American dream of earning $8.25 to $9.25 an hour picking grapes, strawberries and tomatoes in the San Joaquin Valley.  Sacramento Bee article

El Concilio audience applauds Obama’s immigration order – A small group of men and women at El Concilio’s main Stockton office applauded Thursday evening after President Barack Obama announced an executive order that could prevent millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported.  Stockton Record article

Silicon Valley lukewarm to Obama’s immigration reform moves – Technology leaders in Silicon Valley and the Southland collectively reacted to President Obama’s national address with a shrug and a slight smile. But nobody’s jumping for joy.  LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

What Obama’s immigration actions mean for tech workers – President Barack Obama announced plans Thursday to protect certain undocumented immigrants from deportation, but he also outlined plans for drawing high-skilled workers into the country. The White House plans to expand and extend the Optional Practical Training program. These visas could allow more foreign students graduating from U.S. schools to temporarily stay in the country and work in tech fields.  KPBS report

In LA, relief and joy greet Obama’s immigration plan – From tiny televisions at home to large makeshift screens on public lawns, Southern Californians gathered Thursday night to listen as President Obama granted temporary deportation relief to as many as 5 million immigrants.  LA Times article

Obama’s plan of action on immigration may derail Republican agenda — The strong reaction by Republican leaders has less to do with opposition to the nuts and bolts of the president’s immigration policy and more to do with fear and anger that the issue will derail the agenda of the new Republican majority before the next Congress even convenes.  LA Times article

Other areas

John Myers: Boosting California’s tobacco tax won’t be easy.  Or cheap – There is no shortage of clever ways to describe a political fight over raising California’s state tax on cigarettes: a smoldering battle … efforts going up in smoke … lighting up a new campaign. You get the picture. But here’s one that’s probably true: It’s an addictive policy and political debate, one both supporters and critics just can’t seem to kick.  Myers in KQED

California tobacco tax backers unveil new campaign — Seeking to further reduce California’s already-low smoking rates, a coalition of labor and health advocates unveiled on Thursday a campaign to impose a $2-a-pack cigarette tax through legislation or a ballot initiative.  Capitol Alert

Did Republicans miss their chance at unseating Ami Bera? — For Doug Ose, the political winds seemed to be at his back. He was a top-flight contender to oust Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove, a freshman lawmaker in the minority of a deeply unpopular Congress.  Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Bee: Nunes should champion reasonable limits on NSA — When Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare becomes chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in January, our hope is that he takes a judicious approach to this important job and works to protect, as much as possible, the privacy of Americans.  Fresno Bee editorial

News Briefs

Top Stories

After UC regents OK tuition plan, eyes turn to Gov. Brown, state funding – The votes were cast and the protesters’ chanting died down. Now months of political wrangling and budget negotiations are ahead before UC students know for sure how much next year’s tuition will be.  LA Times articleSacramento Bee article; AP article; Sacramento Bee editorial

Personal income rises in the Valley – but not by much – Fresno County and other central San Joaquin Valley counties joined a nationwide trend of growing personal income last year, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno County home sales flat, prices falling – Home sales in Fresno County and other cities statewide remained flat in October despite mortgage rates hitting its lowest level in the last 18 months, according to a report from the California Association of RealtorsFresno Bee article

In two years, proportion of Sacramento ‘underwater’ homeowners falls from 50 percent to 17 percent – In mid-2012, about half of homeowners in the Sacramento region with a mortgage couldn’t sell a home without taking a hit because they owed more than it was worth. Two years later, roughly 17 percent of the region’s homeowners are “underwater” on their loans, according to the latest figures from market tracking firm  Sacramento Bee article

Developer puts planned Hanford Costco project on hold – The developer of the proposed Costco shopping center has put the project on hold following the Hanford City Council’s decision to allow Helena Chemical to expand its facility on East Lacey Boulevard.  Hanford Sentinel article

Court denies injunction blocking Sacramento Kings arena construction – The new Sacramento Kings arena survived another court challenge Thursday, as an appeals court denied arena opponents’ request for an injunction that would have halted construction on the $477-million project.  Sacramento Bee article

Garcetti pledges to ease building permit process to boost construction — Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday announced a new permitting process he said could shave months off the time it takes to build something in Los Angeles. Restaurants, charter schools and major projects costing $10 million or more would be eligible for a new case-management program, a single point of contact to guide such projects through the city’s sometimes-Byzantine process of applying for permits and approvals.  LA Times article

Mayor Johnson: MLS meeting productive, no deadline for expansion decision — Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said that a local contingent seeking to join the ranks of Major League Soccer feels “very strongly about what we’re doing” after meeting with league executives Thursday in New York.  Sacramento Bee article

Ian Adams: Fresno hits right note on for-hire ride services – The California director of the R Street Initiative writes, “When it comes to getting around town, Fresno has struck a good balance between regulation and innovation. A newly released study by my colleagues at the R Street Institute, which examined the regulatory environment for taxis, limos and transportation network companies, ranked Fresno third best overall, behind only Minneapolis and Washington, D.C.”  Adams op-ed in Fresno Bee

NCAA basketball: Stockton to host women’s regional in 2017 – When it came time to take a shot at hosting a major NCAA sporting event, Stockton delivered a slam dunk. The NCAA announced Thursday the Stockton Arena would be the site of one 2017 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship Regional.  Stockton Record article

Kerry McGill:  Don’t bring down the 1 percent; instead, build up the bottom 99 – The retired former Bakersfield resident and financial professional writes, “We do need to overhaul the entire tax code so that all income is taxed equally, so that the Romneys of the world don’t get away with paying less than their share. By reforming the tax code, getting rid of tax shelters and going to a simplified structure, we could stop all of the talk about the top 1 percent owing the bottom 99 percent something. And then maybe we could expand the middle class.” McGill op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Fresno City Council agrees to begin customer voting on water rates — City Hall once again is inviting Fresnans to consider paying more to secure a reliable water supply for the rest of the century. It’s a sign of the times that choosing to be misers probably won’t mean a thing in the long run.  Fresno Bee article

New local food project aims to aid farmers and promote healthy eating — New efforts to promote the idea of a regional food hub and to develop a “buy local, buy fresh” campaign in Merced County are now underway.  Merced Sun-Star article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Modesto cops get training from consultant who offers lessons in outsmarting media – Police sergeants and lieutenants received media training Wednesday from a consultant who advertises that she can teach cops how to outsmart reporters and get them to work for the police. Police Chief Galen Carroll said the sergeants and lieutenants did not receive that kind of instruction. He said the training focused on using social media, such as Twitter, and not being afraid of – and how to talk with – reporters. Modesto Bee article

Tulare police begin enforcing synthetic drug ordinance – Tulare police began Thursday enforcing a new ordinance banning synthetic drugs known as “bath salt” or “spice,” becoming the first city in the county to take such step.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Bryan Oliver finishes his testimony – Bryan Oliver’s testimony Thursday morning regarding his awareness of events just before he opened fire Jan. 10, 2013 in a Taft Union High School classroom conflicts with what he told investigators shortly after the shooting.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer learns of counter-terrorism measures in Israel — Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer returned to Fresno on Wednesday after a 10-day trip to Israel, where he conferred with Israeli officials on counter-terrorism issues. The trip, Dyer said, “helped me to understand how complicated the issues are in the Middle East and in Israel.”  Fresno Bee article

Man wanted in Chukchansi Gold raid turns himself in — A fugitive in the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino gaming office raid turned himself in Thursday at the Madera County Corrections jail. Brian Lec Auchenbach, 38, of Gardnerville, Nevada, one of 15 men wanted in the office raid on Oct. 9 that led to the casino and hotel closure the following day, arrived at the jail Thursday afternoon, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Erica Stuart.  Modesto Bee article

Robin Abcarian: Brother’s death in Bakersfield haunts critic of Sheriff’s Department — Chris Silva slipped a disc into his computer, then stepped back to watch as the deposition of a Kern County sheriff’s deputy began to play on his TV.  LA Times article


Gov. Brown and UC President Napolitano: Very different views of UC’s future – Hours after the University of California Board of Regents voted 14-7 to raise tuition, UC President Janet Napolitano told KQED that she hopes the increase never happens.  KQED report

Immigration order could mean more money for schools – For public schools in this border region, educators hope immigration changes will curb the fear of deportation that many families face — something they say could assist districts financially, while also helping students emotionally.  U-T San Diego article

Negotiations:  Bakersfield City School District teachers want 7.5 percent raise – The Bakersfield City School District and its teachers are approaching a stalemate about two months into negotiations for a raise this fiscal year for the district’s some 1,500 educators. The two sides are 6 percentage points apart on pay, with teachers seeking a 7.5 percent raise. The district has offered teachers a 1.5 percent raise, said Michelle Johnson, president of the Bakersfield Elementary Teachers Association. Bakersfield Californian article

Joel Fox:  Tuition hike proposal like dialogue from an old movie – University of California officials could borrow dialogue heard in dozens of old movies when they essentially tell state officials: “Give us the money or the kids get it!” Fox in Fox & Hounds

Colleges straddle line between assault prevention and victim blaming – As efforts increase around the nation to combat campus sexual assault, one aspect of prevention seems to confound schools the most: how to warn students about staying safe — without sounding like they’re blaming the victim.  NPR report

Oregon assistant Jim Bartko is Fresno State’s new athletic director – Jim Bartko, who has served as a Nike liaison and executive senior associate athletic director for the University of Oregon, is Fresno State’s new athletic director.  Fresno Bee article

Charter schools break law by making parents volunteer, report says – Scores of California charter schools require parents to volunteer as a condition for their child’s enrollment in violation of state law, according to a report by a civil rights organization.  LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Yankees great Mariano Rivera donates to Sierra High in surprise visit – The new maroon and gold-button outfits and the Yamaha instruments were donated by former New York Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera, who made a surprise visit to the eastern Fresno County school Thursday morning. Rivera, who retired after the 2013 season and is considered a shoo-in for the Baseball Hall of Fame, runs a charitable foundation dedicated to kids.  Fresno Bee article

Parents seek solution at meeting about gun on Savage campus – A scant 100 Savage Middle School parents went to the school gym Thursday evening to get information and vent their frustration about the delay in being told of a handgun found at school last week.  Modesto Bee article

Atwater school board reviews student safety efforts – Atwater Elementary School District trustees spent much of their time at Tuesday’s board meeting reviewing efforts to keep students, staff and teachers safe. About a quarter of a million dollars is being spent to bolster safety at the district’s eight campuses.  Merced Sun-Star article

UCLA adopts diversity class requirement for undergraduates – UCLA’s Legislative Assembly gave final approval Thursday to a measure that requires undergraduates to take a course on ethnic, cultural, religious or gender diversity, according to campus officials.  LA Times article

Corinthian Colleges to sell 56 campuses to nonprofit for $24 million – Orange County-based Corinthian Colleges Inc. said Thursday that it has agreed to sell off 56 campuses for $24 million to a nonprofit entity that collects student loan debt on behalf of the federal government.  LA Times article; AP article


Planet, California on pace for warmest year on record – The Earth is on track for its warmest year on record, federal scientists said Thursday after temperatures in October climbed to historical highs.  San Francisco Chronicle article

PG&E fined $1 million for improper emails to state utility regulators – The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday slapped Pacific Gas & Electric Co. with a $1-million fine for having improper contacts with commission members and top staff.  LA Times article; AP article

Feds reject renewable energy project in Silurian Valley — Saying the project “would not be in the public interest,” the Bureau of Land Management on Thursday denied a Spanish company’s application for a controversial wind and solar farm in the Silurian Valley.  LA Times article

Composting program, acquisition prime hauler for growth — While not yet in full swing, Mid Valley Disposal’s new composting operation is turning the Central Valley on to the possibilities of organic material recycling.  The Business Journal article

Health/Human Services

Newly protected immigrants will be eligible for Medi-Cal, advocates say – California undocumented immigrants who are eligible for deferred deportation under President Obama’s executive action are expected to be eligible for Medi-Cal, as long as they meet income guidelines, advocates said Thursday.  KQED report

Kaiser mental health clinicians considering strike – A union of 2,500 mental health clinicians at Kaiser will release the results of a strike authorization vote on Thursday. This comes just a week after Kaiser’s nurses went on strike for two days.  KQED report

Obesity rivals smoking and war among self-inflicted health risks – Among the self-inflicted health risks plaguing the world, obesity now rivals smoking and armed conflict as a leading cause of death, a global research group reported Thursday.  LA Times article

San Francisco Mayor Lee joins opposition to bidder for hospital chain – San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has joined several Bay Area legislators in opposing the pending sale of the Daughters of Charity Health System’s six nonprofit California hospitals to Prime Healthcare Services, a controversial, for-profit Southern California chain.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Congress members challenge United on Sacramento/DC flight shutdown — Eight Northern California members of Congress have sent a letter to United Airlines protesting the carrier’s decision to temporarily shut down the only non-stop flight between two capital cities, Sacramento and Washington, D.C.  Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

Kathleen Rowe-Glendon:  The conversations we must have about rape – The Modesto resident writes, “The perpetrators are the guilty ones. Victims should not be the subject of derision, ridicule or blame. Victims should be offered support and counseling in order to understand that they are not to blame for the heinous actions of another. As a society, we need to keep having these conversations or else this ugliness will continue.”  Rowe-Glendon op-ed in Modesto Bee

Nonprofit set to acquire Riggs Ambulance Service will also manage West Side ambulance – West Side Community Ambulance will relinquish control of the taxpayer-supported ambulance service to the same Nevada-based nonprofit that’s buying out Riggs Ambulance Service.  Merced Sun-Star article

City Beat: Bakersfield councilman calls for ‘Kevin Harvick Day’ — Official Bakersfield honors could be on the way for NASCAR winner Kevin Harvick, the Oildale native and 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champ. At Wednesday’s council meeting, Terry Maxwell allowed as how Bakersfield might be better suited for a ticker-tape parade if, say, its buildings were taller — but heaped praise on the hometown hero and called for a day in his honor.  Bakersfield Californian article

Cosby show in Turlock remains on schedule — As renewed accusations swirl around comedian Bill Cosby, his January show remains scheduled to go on at Turlock Community Theatre. Theater managing director Kit Casey said Thursday that the comedy legend’s Jan. 18 appearance is sold out and has been for about the past month. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – President Obama’s action is no substitute for immigration reform; When Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare becomes chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in January, our hope is that he takes a judicious approach to this important job and works to protect, as much as possible, the privacy of Americans.

Merced Sun-Star – We believe there’s a deal to be struck (on UC tuition). The only thing we know for certain is that if this game of hardball continues, it is the students who will be the losers.

Modesto Bee – We believe there’s a deal to be struck (on UC tuition). The only thing we know for certain is that if this game of hardball continues, it is the students who will be the losers.

Sacramento Bee – It’s time now for all parties to remember that no one in this battle (UC tuition) will emerge a winner if California students lose the war; There’s a way for Congress to win this debate, however, one that’s easier than lawsuits and impeachment and that deprives Obama a political victory to boot: Pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Stockton Record – Homeless shelter, other agencies deserve community support.