November 21, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

Big government borrowing means payback time – someday – A huge new set of government borrowing data from the California Treasurer’s Office for the first time details how government entities – from the state on down to counties, cities and special districts – planned to repay $1.5 trillion in bonds sold since the mid-1980s. Sacramento Bee article

Bid to end California death penalty may collect signatures – Death penalty opponents led by former “M-A-S-H” star Mike Farrell can begin collecting signatures for their latest attempt to repeal the ultimate penalty, increasing the chances that California voters will be faced with a choice between competing initiatives next year. AP article

Gov. Brown

Joel Fox: Views from the Governor’s Office raise questions — The Public Policy Institute of California’s Speaker Series kicked off Thursday’ss session with a conversation between Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive Secretary (read: Chief of Staff) Nancy McFadden and PPIC President Mark Baldassare. Following are a few items from that short 10-minute conversation and questions that popped into my head while listening to the discussion. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

No-party voters get extra attention from slate mailers — A shrinking share of California’s 17.7 million voters have a party affiliation, a situation that has helped foster a niche industry of campaign literature tailored to voters without a party preference. Sacramento Bee article

Kamala Harris cleared in state ethics inquiry – A state ethics agency has determined that California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harrisdid not violate state laws when she received gifts from a company owned by San Francisco interior designer Ken Fulk. LA Times article


Five California mayors urge welcome of refugees — The mayors of Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, West Hollywood and West Sacramento are among 62 mayors from 28 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico who wrote to Congress on Friday urging it not to prevent screened Syrian refugees from entering the United States. Political Blotter article

Other areas

Vulnerable California Democrats play defense on Syrian refugee issue — Political aftershocks from the terror attacks in Paris are starting to be felt here in California. You can see it from the governor and from nervous Democrats in vulnerable congressional districts. Like Rep. Ami BeraKQED report

Democrats who voted for Syrian refugee bill span regions, views — The 47 Democrats appear to be ideologically and geographically all over the map. There’s eight Californians – Reps. Pete AguilarAmi BeraJulia BrownleyJim CostaJohn GaramendiJanice HahnScott Peters and Raul RuizSacramento Bee article

News Stories

Top Stories

Massive El Nino gains strength, likely to drench key California drought zone — One of the most powerful El Niños on record continues gathering strength and is looking increasingly likely to bring heavy rains to key Northern California areas that provide water for the rest of the state, according to a new forecast. LA Times articleKQED report

California added 41,200 jobs in October; unemployment rate is lowest since 2007 — California employers added 41,200 net jobs in October, a significant increase from more sluggish growth reported a month earlier, according to federal data. The state unemployment rate in October fell to 5.8%, down from 5.9% in September and the lowest since October 2007. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Valley unemployment rates rise across Valley– Unemployment rates rose throughout the eight-county San Joaquin Valley in October but remain well below October 2014 rates, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.  The rates ranged from a low of 8.1 percent in San Joaquin County to a high of 108 percent in Tulare County. Here are the October 2015 jobless rates, followed in parentheses by the September 2015 and October 2014 rates:

  • Fresno– 9.3 percent (8.0, 10.4)
  • Kern – 8.9 percent (8.3, 8.8 percent)
  • Kings– 9.7 percent (8.0, 10.6)
  • Madera– 8.9 percent (7.6, 9.5)
  • Merced– 9.1 percent (8.1, 10.2)
  • San Joaquin– 8.1 percent (7.4, 9.4)
  • Stanislaus – 8.5 percent (7.5, 9.9)
  • Tulare– 10.8 percent (9.9,11.9)

October farm job losses drive Fresno County unemployment higher – The beginning of a seasonal lull in agricultural work led to the loss of more than 11,000 farm jobs in Fresno County between September and October, driving the countywide unemployment rate up by 1.3 percentage points from September, to 9.3 percent. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Kern’s unemployment rate increases to 8.9 percent – Kern County’s jobless rate rose more than half a point in October to a seasonally unadjusted 8.9 percent as a drop in farm employment outweighed gains in education, hospitality, services, construction and health care. Bakersfield Californian article 

North Valley’s jobless rate lowest since 2007 – The Northern San Joaquin Valley added 11,900 jobs in the past year and the unemployment rates for its three counties are at their lowest levels in eight years, according to data released Friday by the California Employment Development Department. Stanislaus County led the way in job growth, adding 6,400 jobs from October 2014 to October 2015. Merced County added 700 jobs and San Joaquin County added 4,800. Modesto Bee article 

October unemployment remains in single digits in Merced County – Unemployment in Merced County crept up 1 percentage point in October to 9.1 percent as seasonal jobs in farming decreased, according to numbers released by the Employment Development Department. Merced Sun-Star article 

Bay Area posts big job gains, led by Santa Clara County — The Bay Area surged to a gain of 17,300 jobs during October, a huge rebound from weak gains the month before; Santa Clara County led the boom last month, along with strong gains in the East Bay and San Francisco-San Mateo region, a welcome trend ahead of the crucial holiday shopping season. Oakland Tribune article 

Hunger a growing problem in the Valley – After a long day of picking mandarins in a Terra Bellagrove, followed by a long drive home to Woodlake, the last thing Graciela Ebanaz wanted to do Wednesday afternoon was to wait in line in a parking lot. But it was vital for Ortega and her co-worker, Lucina Castanada, to be there because they had come to receive boxes of food distributed by FoodLink of Tulare County. Visalia Times-Delta article

Hanford may revive visitor agency – The Hanford Chamber of Commerce could be facing some changes, including the possible return of a Hanford visitor agency. The Hanford City Council held a discussion Tuesday about the city’s agreements with the chamber and Main Street Hanford. Existing agreements with the agencies expired in June and have continued on a month-to-month basis pending renewal. Hanford Sentinel article

Kern County Homeless Collaborative submits yearly budget – Each year the Kern County Homeless Collaborative, the local chapter of the Continuum of Care program for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, submits an application for funding. For the 2016-2017 funding year, the group submitted a budget of $5 million. Bakersfield Californian article 

Costco construction could start soon in Hanford — The myriad of moving pieces for the proposed Costco project on East Lacey Boulevard finally appear to be coming together. Hanford Sentinel article

Largest LA County employee union votes to approve contract including 10 percent raise — Workers represented by Los Angeles County’s largest employee union voted to approve a tentative agreement with county management that will give them a 10% raise over three years. LA Times article 

CalPERS responds to governor, defends investment plan – CalPERS pushed back against Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, defending an investment strategy the governor had labeled “irresponsible.” Rob Feckner, CalPERS’ board president, issued a statement saying Brown’s alternative plan “would have caused financial strain on many of California’s local municipalities who are still recovering from the financial crisis.” Sacramento Bee article

A year after ‘The Jungle,’ San Jose’s new approach to homelessness – As the winter turns wet and cold, it’s hard not to notice the people living on the streets. Around this time last year, San Jose shut down “The Jungle,” one of the largest homeless encampments in the nation. The forced exit of more than 300 people living along the banks of Coyote Creek garnered international headlines, as well as local coverage. A year later, The Jungle is fenced off, but thousands of people are still camping out in creekbeds and freeway underpasses all over the city. KQED report

Sugar industry and high-fructose corn syrup makers settle their epic court battle — The years long, high-stakes court battle between the sugar industry and high-fructose corn syrup producers ended Friday in Los Angeles with a settlement. LA Times article 

Coming attractions: IMAX theater in Bakersfield — When the Force awakens in Bakersfield next month, it will do so in IMAX, a wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling screen measuring 60-feet wide and more than three stories tall, according to a media release from Reading International. Bakersfield Californian article

Ex-Vernon official may be on the hook for $3.4 million in pension overpayments — For several years, longtime Vernon city administrator Bruce Malkenhorst Sr. was the state’s highest-paid pensioner, with benefits topping out at more than $550,000 a year. That didn’t sit well with some, especially after his felony conviction in 2011 for misappropriating public funds to pay for golf, massages, meals and political contributions. LA Times article

Zuckerberg leads by example, taking paternity leave from Facebook — Mark Zuckerberg has announced in a Facebook post that he will take two months paternity leave from his job as CEO of the social networking firm when his wife gives birth to their daughter. San Jose Mercury News article


Water wars: LA behemoth sets sights on delta islands – While Metropolitan’s long-term plan is still somewhat murky, it’s clear to everyone that acquiring the islands — including Bacon Island in San Joaquin County, and a portion of Chipps Island in Solano County — would give the district more leverage in the bitter battle for delta water, especially if California’s four-year drought continues. But many of the folks who make their living in the delta see the deal as a naked water grab by Los Angeles heavyweights who think they can hip-check local farmers out of the way. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Mike Dunbar: News from water world – Before the rains arrive and wash away all our worries about the drought and what global warming means to water, there are some developments from the world of wet worth talking over. Dunbar in Modesto Bee

Salmon returning, but drought concerns persist – As the salmon counters at East Bay Municipal Utility District can attest, the fall salmon run is well underway — and the fish are coming, drought or no. Stockton Record article 

Not much bang for the buck in DWP turf rebates, city controller audit says — Los Angeles’ turf rebate program saved less water per dollar spent than other Department of Water and Power conservation programs, an audit released by the city controller said Friday. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Bakersfield Police Department detective featured in Disney film charged with assisting drug dealer — A detective with the Bakersfield Police Department whose exploits as a high school cross-country athlete were highlighted in the Disney film “McFarland, USA,“ has been indicted for allegedly accepting tens of thousands of dollars in bribes in return for assisting a drug dealer in his methamphetamine operation. The 16-count indictment against Damacio Diaz, 43, was unsealed Thursday and Diaz was arrested at BPD headquarters Friday morning.  Bakersfield Californian articleKVPR reportAP articleLA Times article

Is accused cop killer too unstable to stand trial? — Accused cop killer Luis Monroy Bracamontes suffers from a delusional disorder that makes him believe he is so close to God he cannot be executed if found guilty, a defense psychiatrist testified Friday. Sacramento Bee article 

16-year-old charged with murder in Downey police officer’s slaying – A 16-year-old Bellflower resident was charged Friday with murder in the shooting death of a Downey police officer during a botched robbery earlier this week, prosecutors said. LA Times article 

Legal leaders call for federal investigation into Orange County’s use of jailhouse informants — More than 30 retired prosecutors, prominent professors and other legal heavyweights signed on to a letter this week asking for a federal investigation of the Orange County district attorney’s office and Orange County Sheriff’s Department over their use of jailhouse informants. LA Times article 

Is secrecy taking over federal courts? — Federal officials say there are no numbers available to track how many plea agreements with defendants are deemed “confidential” and withheld from the public, but officials acknowledge the practice is growing, in large part because of a renewed push by the Obama administration’s Justice Department and the judiciary itself.  Sacramento Bee article


Cal State faculty file labor charge over salary dispute – The union representing Cal State faculty said Friday that it has filed an unfair labor practice charge against management as the two sides battle over a salary dispute. LA Times article

Bullard High student allegedly attacks teacher, student; campus police officer slow to respond  — A female Bullard High School student allegedly assaulted a teacher and another female student Friday morning, but school officials didn’t call 911 to report the attack, police said. Instead, school administrators alerted their school resource officer, who was not on campus during the attack, and allowed the student to go home with her mother, Lt. Joe Gomez said. She could face at least a charge of misdemeanor battery against a school employee. Fresno Bee article

Kings County stays steady in Exit Exam results — The state has released the results from last year’s California High School Exit Exam and it’s looking good for Kings County. According to the California Department of Education, 79 percent of students in the 2014-15 school year in Kings County passed the math portion of the required test while 81 percent passed the English portion, a 3 percent improvement in that area. Hanford Sentinel article

Elk Grove school district asks parents to consider subbing for teachers — A national substitute shortage has the Elk Grove Unified School District turning to parents for help. The district sent an email to parents Thursday asking them to contemplate taking a turn in the classroom. Sacramento Bee article

Sharp divisions emerge on campuses as some criticize activists’ tactics as intimidation – Protests at Occidental, Claremont McKenna, Yale, Ithaca, Brown and other campuses throughout the nation appear to have wide support as they demand action to address the bias some minority students say they face. But sharp dissent over the movement’s tactics is also emerging, as critics have begun to step forward. LA Times article

Stanford students end sit-in after promise from school president — Stanford University students who staged a weeklong sit-in outside the campus administration office ended their demonstration after president John Hennessy said in a private meeting with students that he would propose their ideas for heavier divestment from fossil-fuel companies to the board of trustees, officials said Friday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Occidental College protestors to end sit-in, vow to keep fighting bias — Student protesters at Occidental College announced they will end their weeklong sit-in by Saturday, vowing to continue their fight against racial bias at the liberal arts campus. LA Times article

James Madison project: Forming a more perfect union between students, U.S. Constitution — Fortified with a federal grant, local educators want to form a more perfect union between middle and high school students and the U.S. Constitution. But first, they need a few good high school teachers. Bakersfield Californian article


New tests provide glimmer of hope for Dungeness crab season — New tests showed that crabs collected from the area around San Francisco, Half Moon Bay and Morro Bay have dropped to safe levels for domoic acid, the neurotoxin causing the unprecedented closure of the commercial crab season, which was supposed to open Nov. 15. San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services 

Fresno Bee: Fresno County hides the truth about Seth Ireland’s death – The best way to stop future tragedies is to know exactly how the county failed to fulfill its duty of protecting Seth Ireland from a man who was described by then-Judge Wayne Ellison at sentencing as “an evil parasite.” Fresno Bee editorial

Fresno County response to domestic violence gets fed boost – A nearly half-million dollar federal grant was announced this week to support improved responses to domestic violence in Fresno County. Fresno Bee article 

New veterans court to address mental, substance abuse issues – Kings County supervisors will consider Tuesday whether to create a new court process to address the needs of veterans who have fallen afoul of the law due to mental health issues and substance abuse problems. Hanford Sentinel article

Jim Doyle: What are we waiting for? – The Fresno resident, freelance writer and veterans advocate writes, “Currently two bills, Senate Bill 901 and House Resolution 1769, the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015, languish in Congress because those we elect choose to ignore the simple fact that Agent Orange/dioxin is injuring and killing people 40 years after the Vietnam War ended.” Doyle op-ed in Fresno Bee

Turlock Chipotle linked to E. coli outbreak — An outbreak of E. coli linked to Chipotle that originated in the Pacific Northwest has spread south and east and has now infected people in six states. Two of the new cases are linked to the Chopotle in Turlock. AP article

Land Use/Housing

 Southeast Asian tenants at Fresno apartment complex living without heat — About 500 people living at a central Fresno apartment complex have gone without heat, hot water or the ability to cook in their kitchens for 10 days, according to a nonprofit aid group. Fresno Bee article


Joe Mathews: Should we kill the Hanford-Visalia station? — Hanford and Visalia are two of my favorite places to visit in California, with two lovely and vibrant centers. But an excellentGerman Marshall Fund report that I cited in my column raises questions about the challenges of a Hanford-Visalia station. The station would be serving smaller towns, not cities, and wouldn’t be in a downtown. And those counties are lightly populated by California standards. And high-speed rail works best in center cities, for a host of reasons. And it slows down the train, for fewer passengers, when you have stops in less populated places. Mathews in Fox & Hounds

Other areas

Stockton fills three key positions — The city announced the hiring this morning of two crime-prevention specialists with Stockton ties, as well as a new fire chief with a Bay Area connection. Stockton Record article

Merced expects to name city manager soon, city leaders say – The Merced City Council conducted a second round of interviews with city manager candidates this week after paring the list down to three finalists, according to city leaders. The council came to an agreement on its top choice, although members remain mum on who it is until after background checks are complete. Merced Sun-Star article 

Preparations for retrial in Chandra Levy case heating up – Defense attorneys Friday made clear that they could be pointing the finger at former Congressman Gary Condit as they attempt to free the man convicted of killing former intern Chandra Levy. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Tim Ward: Transparency in government – Tulare County’s district attorney writes, “The balance of free speech and protecting victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings will always be a challenge for those of us in the business of seeking justice for victims of crime. So on one hand information is more accessible than ever before, yet we as prosecutors should not necessarily promise transparency, to do so is careless and inflammatory.” Ward op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta 

Bill Cosby’s honorary CSU degree revoked — Calling Bill Cosby’s behavior “contrary to the values” of the California State University, trustees of the 23-campus public university system announced on Friday they had taken the unprecedented step of rescinding thedisgraced actor’s honorary degree. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Armen D. Bacon: The mourning after — Nov. 13 started out like any other day except, of course, the obvious eeriness of the date falling on a Friday. Bacon column in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The best way to stop future tragedies is to know exactly how the county failed to fulfill its duty of protecting Seth Ireland from a man who was described by then-Judge Wayne Ellison at sentencing as “an evil parasite.”

Merced Sun-Star – The U.S. House refugee bill would not make the nation safer.

Modesto Bee – If you want some good news, just look around. 

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 10 a.m. on KMJ (580AM and 105.9FM Radio/podcast) – Maddy Report – Valley Views Edition: “Hinds Hospice: A Model End of Life Care” – Guest: Jim McCarthy of Hinds Hospice. 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

Please visit if you want to view the Maddy Daily with our comprehensive list of links to all federal, state and local government, public affairs institutes/regional entities, Valley media and public policy blogs. (Please note new website address.) 

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.

Maddy Institute on Facebook and Twitter – To learn about Maddy Institute activities (e.g. The Maddy Report tv show, The Maddy Associates’ Luncheons, the Maddy Legislative Intern Program), become a fan of the Maddy Institute on Facebook or log on to And if you have a Facebook or Twitter account, please add us and follow us!

Follow @MaddyDaily on Twitter – Can’t wait for the Maddy Daily to hit your in-box each morning?  Follow @MaddyDaily on Twitter to receive updates on policy and political developments throughout the day.  

If you want to subscribe or unsubscribe, please send an email to Ana Melendez at

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.

This document is to be used for informational purposes only. Unless specifically noted, the Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno does not officially endorse or support views that may be expressed in the document. If you want to print a story, please do so now before the link expires.

Funding for The Maddy Daily is made possible by grants from The Wonderful Company and BNSF Railroad and generous donations from you, our subscribers.