November 23, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

CD21: After dominating Renteria, some say Valadao may be unbeatable —  If someone with Amanda Renteria’s qualifications and bank account not only can’t win but can’t be competitive, it has many political pundits wondering if David Valadao can ever be beaten in the 21st Congressional District. There are some political watchers who say the only hope for Democrats is to wait until congressional lines are redrawn ahead of the 2022 election — and hope that a newly drawn district is more winnable.  Fresno Bee article

‘90s immigration battle reshaped California’s political landscape — The battle over what to do with people in the country illegally took a new turn last week with President Obama’s explosive plan to protect up to 5 million of them from deportation. To watch from California was to peer through the rear window to the 1990s, when illegal immigration dominated political conversation here, en route to utterly remaking the state’s political landscape.  LA Times article


Turmoil over immigration status? California has lived it for decades – There may be no better place than California to measure the contradictions, crosswinds and confusion that come with trying to change immigration law. For 30 years, California has been the epicenter of the churn of immigration — legal and not — in the nation.  New York Times article

Twenty years after Prop 187, attitudes toward illegal immigration have changed dramatically in California — Proposition 187 was widely viewed as one of the harshest anti-immigrant measures in the country. But when President Barack Obama last week signed executive orders to protect about 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, there were only muted protests in the Golden State. And polls show that more Californians back Obama on this than oppose him.  San Jose Mercury News article

Analysis: Veto give Obama edge on immigration – President Obama has the upper hand in the fierce struggle over immigration now taking shape, with a veto pen ready to kill any Republican move to reverse his executive order, Democrats united behind him and GOP congressional leaders desperate to squelch talk of a government shutdown or even impeachment.  AP article

Scott Jones: Meaningful reform would bring millions out of the shadows – Sacramento County’s sheriff writes, “The president needs to make true reform a priority and change the hands-off policies that exist in the federal agencies within his control. He should start immediately securing our border as a requisite to any meaningful reform discussions or plan. Only then will we have the reform that still eludes us and be able to take 12 million men, women and children out of the shadows.”  Jones op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Outside money talked in legislative races this month — Campaigns for state contests on the Nov. 4 ballot featured more than $50.6 million in outside spending by oil companies, unions and trade groups in the months before the election, with almost $33 million of that spent in races for the Assembly and state Senate, according to the latest state filings.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Morain: Big money, big data collide with privacy – The Legislature this year finally prohibited brokers from selling individuals’ Social Security numbers. Who knew that was ever legal? But on several privacy measures, legislators bowed to tech lobbyists who argued the bills threatened to stifle innovation. That might start to change in 2015. Or not.  Morain in Sacramento Bee

Ex-Assembly Speaker Hertzberg heads to Senate with long-term goals — Four goals drive what he hopes will be an eight-year run in the Senate: expand renewable energy, strengthen California’s water system, shift state authority to local government and overhaul the state’s boom-and-bust tax structure.  LA Times article

GOP-led Benghazi panel bolsters administration — A report released late Friday about the fatal 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, left Republicans in the same position they have been in for two years: with little evidence to support their most damning critiques of how the Obama administration, and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, responded to the attacks.  New York Times article

Victor Davis Hanson: Let us meet the ‘snobocrats’ — In the view of the “snobocrats,” the harm that follows from Obamacare, blanket amnesty or out-of-control bureaucracies should always affect someone else — someone thought to be too stupid to figure out what hit them.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

Dan Walters: California’s ‘comeback’ is stills spotty – As he sought re-election to his fourth and last term as governor this year, Jerry Brown crowed about a “California comeback” after weathering the worst recession since the Great Depression. In fact, California’s recovery has been very slow and very spotty, largely confined to the San Francisco Bay Area and a few other coastal enclaves.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Bad chemistry took over in Valley’s terrible air siege — An early November pollution siege left people coughing, sneezing, rubbing their eyes and scratching at rashes. Strangely, it started with the first real storm of autumn in the San Joaquin Valley, not a cloud of fireplace soot.  Fresno Bee article

National forests a growing destination for illegal pot farms — Illegal marijuana farms generating millions of dollars per crop — and costing taxpayers millions to clean up — are being attracted to California’s wild lands in increasing numbers.  Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Holiday season hiring rebounds from recessionary doldrums – Early indications are that holiday hiring – everything from delivering parcels to answering phones at customer-service centers or manning cash registers at shopping malls – is occurring at a pace far surpassing the dismal days of the recession.  Sacramento Bee article

City eyes rental hikes at Modesto Centre Plaza – It soon could cost a lot more money to hold your wedding, conference or seminar at Modesto Centre Plaza, the city’s downtown convention center.  Modesto Bee article

California Indian casinos embroiled in turmoil – When it comes to controlling California’s flashy Las Vegas-style casinos, the stakes are enormous for tribes who own the gambling operations that collectively generate billions of dollars a year to sustain Native Americans up and down the state. With this backdrop, several tribes in the past two years have fallen into nasty, sometimes violent, power struggles pitting factions and families against one another.  AP article

Michael Fitzgerald: A boat that could be something, maybe – The Sherman may not be just another Delta deadbeat. If I have it sorted out correctly, it may actually have a future as a lively waterfront restaurant. Only perhaps not on Stockton’s waterfront.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Few signs of summer’s earthquake in Napa, Vallejo – Except for a few buildings that still have scaffolding as workers brush in finishing touches, there’s really not much to see anymore for those hunting signs of quake damage. The piles of rubble have been cleared away, and streets that were so buckled that kids were using them like skateboard ramps have been smoothed out. Nearly all the businesses that had to close after the quake have reopened.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Garcetti’s high-tech, innovation agenda faces old-school hurdles –  Transplanting the inventive mind-set of such places as Hub LA to the staid, marble corridors of City Hall could prove a tall order.  LA Times article

Business plan competition launches store, barbershop in Kingsburg – In Kingsburg, economic development is happening in the form of handmade quilts, old-fashioned barbers and a touch of hardcore competition. The city of almost 12,000 people is about to start its second business plan competition dubbed The Launching Pad.  Fresno Bee article

Modesto’s Small Business Saturday:  Happy independents’ day – Local crafters invite you to go Mod in Modesto as you do your holiday shopping this year. The Mod Shop: Indie Crafters Market features all local artists and crafters who will show off and sell their wares on Nov. 29 – part of the Small Business Saturday movement that encourages people to shop at independent retailers the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Modesto Bee article

Pay for CalPERS board members varies widely — Over the years, longtime CalPERS board member Priya Mathur has drawn widely varying amounts for her service. One year she received $18,500. Last year, it was $118,900. Member Henry Jones, who is retired, receives $100 a meeting, about $500 or $600 a month.  Sacramento Bee article


Al Smith: Left high and dry in the San Joaquin Valley – The president and CEO of the Fresno Chamber of Commerce writes, “The news that U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has withdrawn from discussions regarding drought-fighting legislation is a bitter pill for our community to swallow. Despite good intentions, her departure leaves dozens of California communities without a solution to the crippling drought that has devastated our region.”  Smith op-ed in Fresno Bee

Modesto Irrigation District subsidy debate may not surface Tuesday – A full debate over forcing electricity customers to subsidize farmers more than $10 million a year can wait until after Modesto Irrigation District leaders discuss raising electric rates, MID General Manager Roger VanHoy said, but the discussion could begin as soon as Tuesday.  Modesto Bee article; Modesto Bee editorial

John A. Coleman and Kathleen Tiegs: California opens door to new chapter in water policy – The leaders of the Association of California Water Agencies write, “The success of Proposition 1 caps years of efforts to advance a fiscally responsible water bond to reinvest in our water system and jump-start the all-of-the-above strategy we know we need for our future. And for the first time, these investments will be tied to a statewide Water Action Plan laid out by Gov. Jerry Brown earlier this year that recognizes there is no silver bullet to cure our 21st century water supply challenges.” Coleman/Tiegs op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Documentary a grim primer on realities of ‘farm to fork’ – Just in time for Thanksgiving comes a powerful film about the abundance of our agriculture and the gratitude we owe to farmworkers. The documentary “Food Chains” opened nationwide in theaters and via iTunes on Friday, and will be released Thursday through video on demand. Its scenes are likely to make you pause and reflect the next time you shop the supermarket produce aisle.  Sacramento Bee article

Drought revives ‘forgotten art’ at wineries: Farming without irrigation —  Dry farming requires the right kind of soil to absorb and retain natural moisture. It needs vines with deep roots to seek out that water, especially in times of severe dryness. And it takes careful tilling and pinpoint soil management to make sure the vines survive the hottest months.  LA Times article

Jeff Jardine: Snow-making a pipe dream for resort owner? — Lance Vetesy has spent 23 years of his life watching the winter sky and praying for snow. He owns Leland High Sierra Snow Play east of Pinecrest. In normal to good snow years, 30,000 people will entertain themselves by riding inner tubes or other devices down his hills in a season that begins in December and ends in early March. But this drought has been cruel. Merciless, in fact.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Body cameras shown to reduce police complaints, use of force – Rialto. Oakland. California City. Stockton. The list of cities whose police officers are hitting the field wearing “body-worn cameras” is growing.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims sends deputies to political donor’s aid — Twice this year, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims sent her deputies into Madera County to help a prominent political donor deal with his out-of-control, mentally ill son. Mims said she helped Mark Borba, whose family has donated more than $6,000 over the past four years to her re-election campaign, after he called her personal cell phone.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento County targets illegal massage parlors with prostitution ties – The county has shut down 17 massage parlors in the last two years for code violations and other illegal activity, and all but three were in the northern suburbs. And those closures touch only the surface of the problem, according to law enforcement officials. Sacramento Bee article

Lois Henry: Key molestation case figure deserves a do-over — This coming January it will have been 28 years since Gerardo Gonzales made the mother of all plea deals.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian


Student sit-in continues at UC Berkeley over tuition hikes – A student sit-in protesting tuition hikes at the University of California continued at UC Berkeley’s Wheeler Hall for the third day Saturday, while others planned to make a peaceful presence felt at the football game between Cal and Stanford.  LA Times article

Debra J. Saunders:  Tuition hikes at the University of Compensation — UC Regent Richard Blum confessed that he was “apoplectic” at the Board of Regents meeting Wednesday.   Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle

Fresno State students glean fruit, restore trail for Serving Fresno Day — Fresno State student volunteers gathered in two locations Saturday to restore and construct a trail at the McKenzie Table Mountain Preserve and glean fresh fruit for the Fresno Community Food Bank.  Fresno Bee article

Los Rios, Sierra community colleges won’t pilot 4-year degrees — The Sacramento region’s two largest community college districts do not immediately plan to offer four-year college degrees under a limited state pilot program, officials said this week.  Sacramento Bee article

Huge settlement in sex abuse case has LA Unified rethinking reforms — The settlement has Cortines — the current superintendent — and others concerned that other earlier reforms didn’t work and considering what needs to be done for the district to better protect students from sexual misconduct by adults.  LA Times article


Earthquake early alert system ready to expand in California – Officials are planning the first major rollout of California’s earthquake early warning system next year, providing access to some schools, fire stations and more private companies.  LA Times article

Lighted Stockton board parade cancelled due to hyacinth — Next month’s Delta Reflections Lighted Boat Parade, one of this city’s most unique and colorful holiday traditions, has been canceled because of the unprecedented water hyacinth outbreak, organizers announced Saturday.  Stockton Record article

Larry Ruhstaller: Solution to weedy problem? – The San Joaquin County supervisor writes, “We need a commitment from USDA to maintain long-term funding for this project and invest in a sustainable invasive weeds management strategy in the Delta to do away with these menacing weeds for good.”  Ruhstaller op-ed in Stockton Record

Small Placer dam is a big barrier to salmon — On a recent day after a rainstorm, several dozen fall-run Chinook salmon trying to migrate upstream in Auburn Ravine found their progress frustrated. Efforts to complete their long spawning run from the Pacific Ocean were halted by a small dam on the outskirts of Lincoln.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

Immigration overhaul could boost Latino enrollment in Obamacare — President Obama’s new immigration overhaul could increase Latino enrollment under his signature health law by reducing the threat of deportation and making more Californians comfortable signing up for coverage they already qualify to get.  LA Times article

Shawn Hubler: Food and politics both on the menu – The food movement has long been a force unto itself in California. It’s not an exaggeration to say that Berkeley’s Alice Waters is why Michelle Obama installed an organic garden at the White House. In recent years, though, the progressive push toward more local and sustainable eating has morphed from a cultural novelty to an organized public health interest.  Hubler column in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento leaders dither while homeless people shiver – The rest of the country is putting roofs over heads while do-gooders here argue. In human and economic terms, this long tug of war between old and new tactics, established and new players, is not only provincial, but a luxury this city can no longer afford. Sacramento Bee editorial

Hundreds trot to benefit Kern County’s homeless — The seventh annual Bakersfield Turkey Trot, which includes a 1K, 5K and 10K run and walk, raises money for the Bakersfield Homeless Center. The event had 402 participants, not including the children who ran in a shorter Lil’ Gobbler Run.  Bakersfield Californian article

Guidance sought on assisted death — In truth, assisted dying happens in California. More than most realize, Dowie said. Without right-to-die laws in California, friends and family can be thrust into a legal gray area when a dying loved one wants help dying.  San Francisco Chronicle article


BART’s Oakland Airport shuttle gets rave reviews — BART’s new Oakland airport service got off to a wet start Saturday — with crews forced to squeegee off rain that had blown in and flooded the airport station platform — but nothing could dampen the enthusiasm of its jubilant first-day riders.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other Areas

David Mas Masumoto: Giving thanks — Thanksgiving is not a Christian holiday but a celebration of many faiths. Gratitude is a universal trait of spirituality, often at the core of belief systems, a unifying tie that binds us as one — and perhaps for a moment on Thanksgiving day, we can all join to recognize each other and appreciate the world. And give thanks.  Masumoto column in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Mike Nichols’ life should inspire us to move forward.

Modesto Bee – Modesto Irrigation District needs to divorce its two primary functions, ending once and for all the relationship that has required power customers to subsidize water customers.

Sacramento Bee –The rest of the country is putting roofs over heads while do-gooders here argue. In human and economic terms, this long tug of war between old and new tactics, established and new players, is not only provincial, but a luxury this city can no longer afford.