November 22, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories 

Lawmakers missed reserve requirement by about $2.2 billion, estimates suggest — Budget experts warned early on that any new rainy-day reserve reliant on volatile capital gains revenue would be difficult to manage. They were right. Less than six months after lawmakers approved the first deposit into the reserve approved by voters last November, the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst estimated this week they were short by about $2.2 billion. LA Times article

Administration assures governors refugee vetting is rigorous — The Obama administration is assuring governors that refugees who come to the United States in its resettlement program undergo a “rigorous security vetting process,” particularly if they are fleeing from Syria. AP article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

On gun control, Newsom seems to be following Bloomberg’s strategic lead – As he pushes a proposed ballot initiative cobbled together from gun-control bills that died in the Legislature or on the governor’s desk, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom frames the battle he hopes to wage next year as a personal one. LA Times article

Steve Swatt and Jeff Raimundo: California voters embrace direct democracy, despite its problems – The former political journalists and consultants write, “For all the headaches they may face with lengthy, complex ballots like the one looming next November, voters long ago embraced Johnson’s view that the initiative, referendum and recall are ‘the most powerful weapons you will have for your defense and the perpetuity of what you hold dear politically.’” Swatt/Raimundo op-ed in Sacramento Bee 


Cathleen Decker: Accept Syrian refugees? State politicians chart a moderate course — In an illustration of the moderating influence of demographics, however, many California politicians have been navigating a middle ground, concerned about national security yet openly uncomfortable with blaming refugees or immigrants themselves. Decker in LA Times 

Sacramento Bee: Democrats Beri, Garamendi, and Costa join Republicans in ‘principled’ vote that punishes refugees — Yes, we all share the “principle” that terrorists are unwelcome. But principle had little to do with the 289-137 House vote on the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, which would radically tighten the refugees’ already stringent vetting process. That was political theater. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Other areas

Dan Morain: Silicon Valley seeks to disrupt gun industry — Conway was an early investor in Google, Facebook and other iconic Silicon Valley brands. Now he helps fund Sandy Hook Promise, made up of parents of children who died, and helps fund promising technology that could employ biometrics and radio frequency identification in smart guns. The goal is to create weapons that won’t fire unless they’re in their owners’ hands, and to help create a gun company that would go head-to-head with legacy brands like Smith & Wesson. Morain in Sacramento Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

Tensions, threats as California’s new groundwater law takes shape — Even amid the sobering accounts of dried-up wells, salt-tainted groundwater and collapsing aquifers in California farm country, no one expects regulation will be easy to set up or sell. Instead, the entire process – starting with just who gets to decide how much water can be “sustainably” pumped in a region – is expected to spark lengthy debate and complicated lawsuits. This is particularly true in farm-rich regions such as Kings County, where the groundwater basins are critically overdrawn. Sacramento Bee article 

In California, stingy water users are fined in drought, while the rich soak — Four years into the worst drought in California’s recorded history, the contrast between the strict enforcement on Californians struggling to conserve and the unchecked profligacy in places like Bel Air has unleashed anger and indignation — among both the recipients of the fines, who feel helpless to avoid them, and other Californians who see the biggest water hogs getting off scot-free. New York Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Residents of homeless camp near Mendota evicted — The residents of a homeless encampment just outside of Mendota were evicted on Nov. 20 by Fresno County sheriff’s deputies. Sheriff Margaret Mims said at a news conference that the occupants of the shanty town were given at least six different notices to leave the property, which is owned by Westlands Water District. The camp, which sprang up about seven years ago, grew to around 50 residents after years of drought created hardship for field workers. Fresno Bee article 

Kurt Wilson: The state of Stockton – Stockton’s city manager writes, “Fortunately, Stockton probably is in the most stable financial position in our 165-year history. Unfortunately, this is based on our current levels of service and compensation, both of which are subpar. Going forward, we will have to balance the benefits of frugality against the pent-up needs to increase service and compensation. While we have much work to do, we have the opportunity to continue our progress if we muster the strength to stay true to our post-bankruptcy spending commitments.” Wilson op-ed in Stockton Record

Patty Guerra: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday loom this week – Well, here we are already. It’s Thanksgiving week, which in the world of retail, means Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Followed by Cyber Monday, which I am not sure ever really became a thing. No matter where you land on the whole issue of Black Friday/Thursday, there is a retailer for you. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento-area shoppers appear ready to spend this holiday season — Sacramento-area consumers appear ready to spend this holiday shopping season, and many retailers are once again accommodating them with extended store hours and a blizzard of advertised bargains. Sacramento Bee article

Modesto homeless family of 11 to get shelter by Thanksgiving – Family Promise of Greater Modesto succeeded in helping a family of 11 find a home in Modesto after spending several months in a shelter, said Tamra Losinski, the nonprofit agency’s executive director. Modesto Bee article

Steve Lopez: Rosy job numbers blind us to the bleak reality of the ‘real economy’ — Once again, the employment numbers in California look pretty good. And once again, those numbers are deceiving. All you have to do is look at the case of Martin Saldana. Lopez column in LA Times

Census change may result in fewer ‘white’ Americans — The Census Bureau is considering changes to its race and ethnicity questions that would reclassify some minorities who were considered “white” in the past, a move that may speed up the date when America’s white population falls below 50%. LA Times article


El Nino could wallop Modesto’s trees – The city of Modesto’s trees have been battered by four years of drought and more years of neglect brought on by budget cuts. Now they face the prospect of a wet and windy winter courtesy of El Niño. Modesto Bee article 

What to expect when you’re expecting … a new water meter – City of Bakersfield customers, roughly one-third of residents mostly in the southwest, are all already on meters, as are water users served by East Niles Community Services District in eastern parts of the city. But crews from the California Water Service Co., Bakersfield’s largest water company, and two smaller providers, Vaughn Water Co., and Oildale Mutual Water Co., are regularly at work installing meters and prepping for installation. Bakersfield Californian article 

Firebaugh farmer honored by White House for soil health techniques — On the outskirts of the western San Joaquin Valley, amid one of the worst droughts in California history, Jesse Sanchez is making waves with his agricultural techniques. Sanchez, 63, is the farm manager at Sano Farms, a 4,000-acre operation near Firebaugh and Mendota that grows garbanzo beans, garlic, almonds, pistachios, and processing and fresh market tomatoes. Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Lois Henry: Setting criminals on path to ‘straight life’ — DRC is an intensive combination supervision-training-education program dedicated to keeping folks like Jimenez on the straight and narrow. To that end, it tailors services to each client and holds clients accountable for their actions and achieving goals. Though this offer of a second chance is an amazing gift, incoming probationers don’t see it that way. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Activists call for an end to statute of limitations on rape cases — More than three dozen people gathered Saturday at Bill Cosby’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame to protest a law that they say prevents rape victims from fully seeking justice. LA Times article


Dan Walters: LA new front in education war — A big and perhaps decisive battle is brewing in the state’s largest – and in many ways, most troubled – school district, Los Angeles Unified. It’s a microcosm of the state’s educational woes, particularly the disturbingly low academic achievements of Latino and black students, and a radical proposal to shift half of its students into charter schools in hopes of improving outcomes is shaping up as a clash of titans. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Teachers discuss challenges of special education — While educating any student can be challenging, teaching special education students can be even more so.  Shelly Baird School in Hanford serves about 300 students up to age 22 with significant special needs, most of whom can’t function in a regular class. With the students having their own unique barriers to learning, teachers have to find creative ways to educate these kids. Hanford Sentinel article

Massachusetts’ rejection of Common Core test signals shift in U.S. — Across the country, what was once bipartisan consensus around national standards has collapsed into acrimony about the Common Core, with states dropping out of the two national tests tied to it that had been the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s education strategy. New York Times article 

Family, teachers, mentors help propel UC Davis’ Katehi engineering success — As a grade-schooler on the Greek island of Salamis, Linda P.B. Katehi harbored no illusions about going to college. Her mother and grandmother didn’t have more than a sixth-grade education. There wasn’t a library on the entire island. And, her family and virtually everyone else lived in some degree of poverty. Sacramento Bee article

Teaching Spanish to the kids isn’t easy for second-generation parents — According to the Pew Research Center, by now more than half the nation’s adult Latino population is U.S.-born. Meanwhile, fewer immigrants are arriving from Latin America. What this means is that gradually, the U.S. is seeing a shrinking number of Spanish-speaking households. It’s expected that by 2020, only two-thirds of U.S. Latino households will speak Spanish. KPCC report


Gas line explosion highlights lack of coordination between pipeline owners, excavation contractors — This month’s fatal pipeline rupture near Bakersfield highlights a challenge that has vexed state, federal and private-sector officials in recent years: how to improve coordination between natural gas utilities and excavation contractors to better protect public safety. Bakersfield Californian article 

Karen Kerrigan: The broken promises, politics of corn ethanol – The president and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurial Council writes, “It’s time for national political players to stand up to the corn ethanol lobby and demand major Renewable Fuel Standard reforms. Californians have suffered enough already from this misguided and failed federal program.” Kerrigan op-ed in Modesto Bee 

California outlaws recreational and commercial bobcat trapping — As of Friday, recreational and commercial bobcat trapping are no longer allowed in California, ending a century-old industry. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

California and Oregon ease access to birth control – Most Western countries require a doctor’s prescription for hormonal contraceptives like pills, patches and rings, but starting sometime in the next few months, women in California and Oregon will be able to obtain these types of birth control by getting a prescription directly from the pharmacist who dispenses them, a more convenient and potentially less expensive option than going to the doctor. New York Times article

Two Bakersfield men file lawsuits claiming e-cigarettes exploded — Electronic cigarettes, or “e-cigarettes,” are often argued to be a safer alternative to smoking, but two Bakersfield men are claiming otherwise in a pair of lawsuits. Bakersfield Californian article 

Lewis Griswold: Visalia Medical Center partners with Kaweah health district — Visalia Medical Clinic – the largest multi-specialty clinic in the central San Joaquin Valley – has formed a partnership with Kaweah Delta Health Care District in Visalia in a bid to prosper in the changing health care environment. A side benefit for both the clinic and Kaweah Delta is more heft for recruiting doctors to town. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Hilary Seligman and George Manalo-LeClair: Screening children for hunger is only the first step – Seligman, a physician at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Centere, and Manalo-LeClair, executive director of the California Food Policy Advocates, write, “In a number of countries, including the Philippines, “have you eaten?” is a greeting as common as “how are you?” Recognizing the important place of food in the culture, this greeting is seen as warm way of extending friendship and hospitality. Thanks to recent action by the American Academy of Pediatrics, many physicians will now be essentially asking their patients the same question – but for a very different purpose.” Seligman/LeClair op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Records give a glimpse into the mind of a man accused of killing his three sons — Child protection workers knew that pushing Luiz Fuentes to face his demons would be hard. “Father feels that counseling will not be beneficial to him because it will force him to remember when all he wants is to forget,” county caseworkers told the court in September 2010, shortly after they determined that Fuentes had badly bruised his son Luis, then 5, by beating him with a belt. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno’s massive southeast growth plan under scrutiny — It appears that the city will not meet agreed-on deadlines with the county to build on the land within 20 years as required by the guidelines of the Local Agency Formation Commission, the independent agency that approves future boundaries for cities. That has led to calls for LAFCO’s board to shrink the growth area. Fresno Bee article


Bay Bridge risks, solutions debated as leaks invade foundation — It wasn’t long after workers finished pouring concrete at the bottom of the new eastern Bay Bridge’s tower foundation that the cracks emerged. San Francisco Chronicle article

Stanislaus County officials imagine new bridge over Tuolumne River — The big road projects in Stanislaus County are subject to years of planning and sometimes intense debate. And they are entirely dependent on funding. One little-known plan that’s getting more attention is the next bridge over the Tuolumne River. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Security ramps up for Super Bowl 50 — Bomb-sniffing dogs at train stations. Metal-detectors in every doorway. Police sharpshooters perched on rooftops. High-tech sensors and cameras capturing every move. Paris? Nope. Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara. San Jose Mercury News article 

New Vietnam memorial dedicated in Stockton — Among the dozens of people who came to dedicate a memorial to Stockton’s sons who died in Vietnam were three generations from two separate families, one whose loved one paid the ultimate sacrifice, and the other working hard to ensure all of Stockton remembers. Stockton Record article

Girls in California are the latest to try to join Boy Scouts – In a year in which gender roles in traditional American institutions have undergone major changes and challenges, a fight in Northern California over joining the Boy Scouts is among the most recent points of contention. These girls — the latest of many over the decades who have sought to become Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts instead of Brownies and Girl Scouts — say they would rather be camping and tying knots than selling cookies. New York Times article

Mike Klocke: Care for a game of 20 questions? — We’ll call this Reverse Jeopardy! I’ll supply the questions — 20 of them, in fact — and you take time to think and supply the answers. Klocke in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Sacramento Bee – It’s natural to rethink national security after an attack like the one in Paris. But the drumbeat for more government surveillance power – and, in particular, more access to civilians’ encrypted phone data – is not only futile but likely to backfire; Yes, we all share the “principle” that terrorists are unwelcome. But principle had little to do with the 289-137 House vote on the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, which would radically tighten the refugees’ already stringent vetting process. That was political theater.

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: Jill McCarthy of Hinds Hospice. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

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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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.

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