November 22, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

1.1 million immigrant parents in California qualify for deportation relief — More than 1 million immigrant parents in California will be eligible for deportation relief under President Obama’s deferred action program, according to a Pew Research Center Study.  LA Times article

Backstage maneuvering continues over federal drought bill — The immediate next step will be taken by House Republicans, some of whom felt the rug had been yanked out from underneath them just as they were 98% done. They worry that by the time Congress acts next year, another drought-ridden growing season will have passed. McClatchy Newspapers article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown gets chance to fill antagonist’s seat — In the nearly four years since he returned to the Governor’s Office, Gov. Jerry Brown has faced few local government antagonists more vocal than Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone. Now Brown gets to fill Stone’s seat following the supervisor’s election to the state Senate earlier this month.  Capitol Alert

Valley politics

Fresno County’s final ballots tallied from Nov. 4 election — Fresno County’s remaining ballots from the Nov. 4 election were counted Friday, pushing vote totals up a bit but not changing the outcomes of any races.  Fresno Bee article


Immigration reform: Farmworkers, agribusiness feel left out — For California farmers and thousands of workers who harvest half of the fruits and vegetables that Americans eat every day, President Obama’s executive action on immigration is both a boon and a threat, union and industry leaders said.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Local immigration advocates simultaneously celebrate, worry A coalition of immigrant advocacy groups gathered in front of Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s Bakersfield office Friday to celebrate President Obama’s executive action on immigration and to call on Congress to address the issue permanently through legislation. But they had another message for the millions of undocumented immigrants hoping to come out of the shadows.  Bakersfield Californian article

Blaire urges Congress on reform – Diocese of Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire joined other Catholic Bishops on Friday in urging Congress to legislate comprehensive immigration reform.  Stockton Record article

With immigration action, Obama charts a new path forward – With a border crisis swirling and a fight with Congress brewing, a group of leading immigration activists expected that a last-minute huddle with top officials at the White House in June would bring more bad news.  LA Times article

Carrie Rosenbaum: Obama didn’t open floodgates to migrants – The immigration attorney writes, “While the details will become clearer in the coming weeks, the biggest news is that some parents of children who are citizens or permanent residents may be eligible to obtain work permits and avoid deportation in three-year increments if they can demonstrate economic necessity. What they won’t get is a path to a green card, access to Obama’s health plan or anything else denied to unauthorized immigrants.” Rosenbaum op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Locals weigh in on Obama’s new immigration action – A blur of mixed feelings. That’s how Merced County immigration advocates and members of mixed status families would best describe their reaction to President Barack Obama’s executive order that promises to shield more than 4 million unauthorized immigrants from deportation. Merced Sun-Star article

Sense of security comes with immigration reform – Gloria Sanchez came to Modesto from Michoacán, Mexico, with her family when she was 14 years old. They were undocumented immigrants. Over the next 24 years, she graduated from high school, started her own family and opened a business cleaning houses. But Sanchez, 38, said she never felt she truly belonged until Thursday when President Barack Obama announced he would take administrative action that would lift the fear of deportation for more than 4 million undocumented immigrants and let them get work permits. Modesto Bee article

Jose Gaspar: Immigration action to bring some out of the shadows – The president’s long overdue action was met with overwhelming positive response from Kern County’s immigrant community, many of whom have deep roots with children who have been raised and educated here and know no other country. You could feel the excitement in the air as people were glued to television sets last week with eyes fixed on Obama as he delivered his plan on immigration reform.  Gaspar column in Bakersfield Californian

Sacramento labor, religious leaders hail president’s immigration action – Labor and religious leaders gathered Friday outside the federal building in downtown Sacramento to hail President Barack Obama’s administrative action on immigration as a step in the right direction and to call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform.  Sacramento Bee article

Bureaucratic nightmare? – The political debate over Obama’s unilateral immigration actions is obscuring the more basic question of whether the federal government is actually up to the task of handling a flood of applications from as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants seeking quasi-legal status.  Politico article

Boehner: ‘We will not stand idle’ on immigration – House Speaker John Boehner declared Friday that President Barack Obama was “damaging the presidency” with his unilateral action on immigration. He said the Republican-run House will not stand by, but gave no hint of what the response would be.  AP article

Fresno rally held to support Obama plan on immigration – Fresno resident Stephanie Kamey said Friday that President Barack Obama’s unilateral decision to halt deportations for nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants felt “bittersweet” and still leaves her family “wanting.”  Fresno Bee article

Steve Lopez: The when is now and it’s long overdue — The story of the moment is no longer President Obama’s healthcare program, which Republicans have promised to blow up on the way to the presidency in 2016. It’s Obama’s immigration reform plan, which he delivered Thursday night in a short speech, laying out the terms by which 5 million or so immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally will have temporary legal protection.  Lopez column in LA Times

Other areas

California Senate lays off dozens of staff — A month after taking leadership of the California Senate, Sen. Kevin de León has begun laying off dozens of people who work for the Senate’s administrative arm. The Los Angeles Democrat blamed the reductions on budget problems, issuing a statement that called the layoffs “difficult but fiscally necessary.”  Capitol Alert; LA Times article

Ann Ravel describes backlash to comments on online political communication — As head of California’s political watchdog agency two years ago, Democrat Ann Ravel led the charge to require more disclosure when state campaigns pay for political messages that appear online, such as in blogs and on social media. Now that she sits on the Federal Election Commission in Washington D.C., Ravel has suggested that the nation’s campaign finance regulator should also examine the evolving role the internet plays in political campaigns.  Capitol Alert

House GOP sues administration on health law — House Republicans filed a federal lawsuit Friday accusing the Obama administration of exceeding its constitutional powers in carrying out President Barack Obama’s prized health care law, giving legal voice to conservatives who have long protested that he has abused his office’s authority.  AP article

News Briefs

Top Stories

State high-speed rail agency seeks builders for Kern County route segment — The California High-Speed Rail Authority on Friday issued a request for qualifications to contractors that might be interested in building Construction Package 4, a 30-mile stretch of the bullet-train route through Kern County northwest of Bakersfield.  Fresno Bee article

California adds 41,500 jobs; unemployment rate holds at 7.3 percent – The California unemployment rate held steady at 7.3% in October, even as the state generated the largest increase in jobs in the nation.  LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Unemployment rates rise slightly in Valley – Unemployment rates rose slightly throughout the Valley in October, according to figures released by the California Employment Development Department.  Here are the October unemployment rates, followed in parentheses by the September 2014 and October 2013 rates:

  • Fresno – 10.2 percent (9.5, 12.0)
  • Kern – 9.0 percent (8.8, 10.3)
  • Kings – 10.7 percent (9.8, 11.9)
  • Madera – 8.9 percent (8.2, 10.1)
  • Merced – 10.3 percent (10.3, 12.0)
  • San Joaquin – 9.9 percent (9.7, 11.6)
  • Stanislaus – 9.9 percent (9.7, 11.6)
  • Tulare – 11.6 percent (11.2, 12.7)

Fresno County jobless rate falls to 7-year low for October – A loss of more than 12,000 farm jobs in Fresno County between September and October was enough to drive the county’s unemployment rate back up above 10% last month after a brief dip into single digits.  Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Kern unemployment rose slightly in October, to 9 percent – Kern County’s unemployment rate inched up to 9 percent in October, from a revised 8.8 percent in September, as local farming shed some 5,600 workers and other industries were mixed, the state reported Friday.  Bakersfield Californian article

Merced County’s jobless rate remains at 10.3 percent – The unemployment rate in Merced County remained unchanged last month at 10.3 percent but was more than a percentage point down from the same time last year.  Merced Sun-Star article

End of harvest raises San Joaquin County unemployment – San Joaquin County’s unemployment rate ticked up to 9.9 percent in October, compared September’s revised 9.7 percent rate, but remained a full 2 percentage points below 11.9 percent jobless rate in October 2013, state employment officials said Friday.  Stockton Record article

Stanislaus County sees small, seasonal rise in jobless rate – The unemployment rate in Stanislaus County ticked up last month as agricultural work in the region slowed for the season.  Modesto Bee article

Bay Area job market surges in October – The Bay Area’s three-year employment boom continued in October, according to a state labor report Friday, and experts predict the hiring bonanza could persist for another 12 to 24 months.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Buyer beware:  Properties bought at Stanislaus County tax auctions can bring headaches – The parcels sold at county delinquent tax auctions might seem too good to be true. A winning bidder can pay less than $10,000 for a residential parcel, which can be resold for a quick profit or turned into rental income. It can also be a live-and-learn experience when buyers discover liens, hidden costs or other serious headaches with the parcel they acquired.  Modesto Bee article

Trucker strike at ports of LA and Long Beach ends – Striking truck drivers from two companies agreed Friday to return to work, organizers said, ending a nine-day trucker protest at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  LA Times article

Cost of Thanksgiving meal rises – Thanksgiving, one of the biggest food holidays of the year, is going to cost just a little bit more this year, according to an informal survey by the American Farm Bureau Federation.  Fresno Bee article

Brubaker named new Tulare Chamber CEO – Ben Brubaker is the new Tulare Chamber of Commerce CEO. Brubaker also ran for the Tulare City Council Area 2 District and, with only the provisional ballots left to count, was the top vote getter.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Walmart workers plan Black Friday protests for higher pay — Wal-Mart workers and their supporters plan to launch protests at stores across the country on Black Friday to push for higher wages and better working conditions for employees.  LA Times article

One Chukchansi faction is walking out of settlement conferences – The lawyer for the Reggie Lewis/Nancy Ayala tribal faction is walking out of negotiations aimed at reopening Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino because an opposing group is more concerned about tribal enrollment than the casino.  Fresno Bee article

Oakland requires developers to provide funds for public art — Oakland has no shortage of artists. Soon, it will have no shortage of public art. The City Council passed a law this month that requires private developers to set aside 1 percent of their project costs for public art. With dozens of developments in the works, the law could make Oakland one of the most arts-centric cities in the state, advocates said.  San Francisco Chronicle article


How this week’s rain figures in California drought Despite a week of weepy skies and gray clouds, precipitation so far this season has been below average across California.  Sacramento Bee article

Water dominates California Food & Ag Summit discussion in Modesto – Water issues dominated discussions during Friday’s California Food & Ag Summit in downtown Modesto, as speakers urged farmers to get involved in finding solutions.  Modesto Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento to speed water meters, at last – Finally, the city of Sacramento is taking a serious look at a quicker and cheaper plan for installing water meters.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Getting in on the Water Rush – Everybody paying attention to the situation senses that the game will be up for the Valley’s powerhouse agricultural machine if extreme drought continues, but few know it as clearly as Hanford resident Robert Carvalho.  Hanford Sentinel article

540,000 gallons of water flushed down the street – Locals dealing with California’s crippling drought were not too happy in past days as they came across water pooled and flowing along Woodland Street and Ashland Avenue in Visalia. About 540,000 gallons of water between Wednesday and Friday streamed into a storm drain on Ashland Avenue as part of a groundwater testing project.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Livingston billboard scrutinizes Foster Farms — A public display scrutinizing the use of antibiotics in Foster Farms chickens greeted hundreds of residents Friday, sending a powerful message about what advocates say is continued misuse of the drug by the giant poultry producer.  Merced Sun-Star article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Dyer, community leaders preach calm as Ferguson decision nears – Community leaders joined Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer Friday in calling for calm and civility in the city regardless what decision a grand jury reaches in the case of a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer who fatally shot a black teenager in August.  Fresno Bee article

LA County will redesign jails for disabled inmates after lawsuit – Six years after a lawsuit alleged horrific conditions for inmates in wheelchairs, Los Angeles County officials have agreed to wide-ranging changes to bring their aging jails into compliance with federal disability law.  LA Times article

Oliver trial so far: Battery allegations, disturbing videos and the return of sketch artistry — The trial of school shooter Bryan Oliver has generated plenty of tension, tears and arguments following five days of testimony — and it’s not over by a long shot.  Bakersfield Californian article

‘Obvious tension’ between Merced DA, sheriff in wake of homicide case ruling — The relationship between the Merced County district attorney and the Sheriff’s Department detectives who earlier this year arrested his son on suspicion of murder is predictably cold, both sides acknowledged this week.  Merced Sun-Star article

Woman ruled innocent in 1997 slaying; payment for prison time expected – A woman freed last month after 17 years behind bars for murder was declared factually innocent Friday by a Los Angeles County judge. Arnold’s ruling paves the way for Mellen, 59, to receive compensation from the state of $100 for each day she was wrongfully imprisoned — about $600,000. LA Times article


UC students plan walkout Monday over tuition increases – University of California students say they will walk out of classes on Monday to protest the university regents’ decision this week to increase tuition barring more funding from the state.  KPCC report

UC expands legal services for immigrant students – The University of California is planning to offer legal services at six campuses to students who are living in the U.S. illegally or have parents who might be eligible for deportation relief under President Barack Obama’s new immigration order, UC President Janet Napolitano announced Friday. Sacramento Bee article

New AD Jim Bartko: Fresno State has ‘vision to be great’ – Jim Bartko doesn’t expect to be stuck behind a desk as Fresno State’s new athletic director. Bartko, the former senior associate athletic director for development at the University of Oregon, said Friday he will work the community to keep Bulldogs programs on an upward and ambitious plan laid out by President Joseph Castro.  Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Fresno State received $100,000 gift – The College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State received a pledge estimated at $100,000 from the estate of Fresno native Patricia Powell in memory of her longtime friend and original estate holder Faith Ann Searle, a librarian and teacher who died in 2010.  Fresno Bee article

LA Unified urged to remain vigilant after settling sex abuse claims –  An attorney representing plaintiffs in the Miramonte Elementary School child abuse scandal thanked the L.A. Unified School District for agreeing to a $139-million settlement Friday but urged school officials to continue to push to safeguard children in the system.  LA Times article


PG&E gas-line probe by state was slow to launch – It took a four-year string of six accidents blamed on inaccurate natural-gas system records for California regulators to open an investigation into whether Pacific Gas and Electric Co. knows the condition of the pipelines that run into people’s homes and businesses, according to a Chronicle review of state records.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Garcetti proposes LA climate change summit of U.S., China mayors — Following up on last week’s U.S.-China climate change agreement, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday he would invite leaders of Chinese and American cities to a summit in Los Angeles next year to kick-start efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions in both countries.  LA Times article

Fish warnings for Lode reservoirs – For the first time, state regulators have announced that certain fish commonly caught in two local reservoirs — Camanche and New Melones — are not safe for some people to eat because of high mercury levels.  Stockton Record article

‘Looming environmental crisis’ at Salton Sea prompts plea for help — The Imperial Irrigation District has sent a plea to a state water board to help avert a “looming environmental and public health crisis” at the Salton Sea.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Hannah Johnson: My magic moments at Ronald McDonald House – The former development and marketing manager for Ronald McDonald House writes, “We always remember our big moments, specifically the ones that define portions of our lives. Most of us could probably make a list of them. Happy or sad, they changed something within us. My eight-year defining moment surrounded Sylvia.”  Johnson op-ed in Fresno Bee

Smokers hold out for habit despite public pressure, taxes – Today, in California, about 12percent of adults smoke, lower than the national rate of 18.1percent. But the state rate hasn’t budged much in the last three years. Many hardcore smokers, it seems, are having a hard time kicking the habit. And some young people are still picking it up.  Sacramento Bee article

Local medical residencies are interviewing candidates – With all of the people enrolling in insurance and Medi-Cal through health care reform, it seems that local hospitals and clinics could use more doctors.  Modesto Bee article

Out of prison – and hungry — Aus Jarrar was released from prison after an 11-year sentence with $200. He has an internship as a drug and alcohol counselor, but because he doesn’t qualify for food stamps, he is relying on charity food.  KQED report

Grand jury complaint spotlights management issues in Merced County Environmental Health Division — A civil grand jury complaint filed last month blamed Merced County’s tardy food inspections on a lack of oversight and control by management, potentially leading to the third investigation of the county’s Environmental Health Division in three years.  Merced Sun-Star article

Land Use/Housing

Movement tries to gain momentum — Rows of metal folding chairs recently have been transforming Weston Ranch living rooms into miniature auditoriums for intimate group discussions that leaders call the “exploratory” phase of an effort to gain a divorce from Stockton.  Stockton Record article


BART’s Airport Connector opens — Before sunrise Saturday, Oakland International Airport will join the growing ranks of U.S. airports with rail transit connections. The $484 million Oakland Airport Connector — a driverless, cable-pulled train system — starts operating at 6 a.m., carrying passengers 3.2 miles between BART’s Coliseum Station and a new station just outside the airport’s Terminal 1.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other Areas

Museum gets major boost for research center — Groundbreaking shovels are the celebrities of the hand-tool community — they come out only for VIP appearances, never do any of the dirty work and then slink from view when the cameras stop clicking. They’re such a rare breed, in fact, that the Kern County Museum doesn’t even own any. Staff was forced to borrow a half-dozen of the shiny gold earth movers for a ceremony Friday to break ground on a new research center that will one day house the thousands of images that tell the story of the county’s history.  Bakersfield Californian article

25 things you didn’t know about Mark Keppler – Central Valley Magazine tells us some things we may not have known about the executive director of The Maddy Institute.  Central Valley Magazine article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Compromise by Gov. Brown, Janet Napolitano can avert UC tuition hike.

Merced Sun-Star – President Obama’s action on immigration is not revolutionary or harmful.

Modesto Bee – Our Views: Filling the kettles is a Modesto tradition, devices are great and so are teachers, and other issues.

Sacramento Bee – Finally, the city of Sacramento is taking a serious look at a quicker and cheaper plan for installing water meters; Contract conflict threatens Sacramento City School District détente.