November 23, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories 

Gavin Newsom making overtures to San Joaquin Valley – might go duck hunting — Three years before the next gubernatorial election, Newsom and his rivals are making inroads into inland California, touring farms, holding receptions and speaking to small crowds. In addition to Newsom, two other Democrats who are expected to run, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and former state Controller Steve Westly, have both made excursions in recent months. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: Wrangling over new state taxes — While the California Teachers Association and other advocates will tell voters that extending the temporary taxes on high-income taxpayers is vital to maintaining services, their opponents will contend that the state is already reaping a bounty of new revenues and doesn’t need to continue the extra levies, about $8 billion a year. The underlying scenario will be much different from the fiscal crisis of 2012 and will compel tax advocates to devise a more nuanced message. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

George Runner and Bob Huff: California’s priority should be water, not high-speed rail – Runner, vice chairman of the State Board of Equalization, and Huff, a Republican state senator, write, “California voters deserve another say. That’s why we’ve submitted a ballot measure to the attorney general that would redirect the remaining $8 billion in high-speed rail bond funds toward building new surface and groundwater storage.” Runner/Huff op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Modesto Bee: Refugees not Stanislaus supervisors’ problem, but angry words may be – The local tea party is boiling over with the thought that some Middle Eastern refugees have been relocated to Stanislaus County. Stoked by fear-mongering politicians from coast to coast, these frightened people are apparently ready to march on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday at 1010 Tenth Street. We’re not certain what they hope to accomplish. Modesto Bee editorial

George Skelton: Governors’ tough talk can’t block refugees — Half the state governors in America are constitutionally ignorant or shamefully demagogic. Most likely it’s the latter, but some may be both. Skelton column in LA Times

Other areas

Sacramento Bee: Lawmakers can prove they support transparency – Here’s how legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown can prove they have nothing to hide: Embrace two proposed initiatives that would shine more light on government, lobbying and campaign spending. Sacramento Bee editorial

San Mateo County: Mail voting experiment boosts turnout – San Mateo County’s recent mail election did more than boost voter participation in a sleepy off-year cycle, a preliminary analysis shows. It yielded dramatic spikes in turnout among young people and minorities. San Jose Mercury News article

Feinstein criticizes Obama’s Islamic State strategy, urges more U.S. special forces in Syria — The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, sharply criticized the Obama administration’s strategy for defeating Islamic State militants, calling Sunday for more aggressive action including additional special operations forces in Syria. LA Times article 

Seyed Ali Ghazvini: In solidarity with victims of ISIS – The imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno writes, “Muslims, witnessing the horrors of Daesh firsthand, know best what it is to be targeted by terrorism. Therefore we stand in solidarity with all victims of violence – from Bangkok to Boston.” Ghazvini op-ed in Fresno Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

What’s driving California cities to a higher minimum wage? – What started as an effort to raise the minimum wage among some of Los Angeles’ largest public-sector unions has become a statewide movement, gaining support in polls and pushing mayors across California to propose hikes and sometimes to go further than planned. CALmatters article

Suspension, expulsion rate in Kern County schools decreases – Kern County schools had a whopping 42 percent decline in suspensions over a two-year period and a 62 percent drop in expulsions during that same time, according to a new study. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Will California wage hikes replace workers with machines? – Employer groups opposed to raising the minimum wage say labor costs are already driving decisions to replace human labor with technology. They say higher minimum wages will accelerate automation trends in the workplace. But economists say even when jobs are replaced by technology, overall employment may not suffer. CALmatters article

Pension risk issue reborn after bond shift — CalPERS and CalSTRS both adopted plans this month to reduce the risk of major pension investment losses, a small step back for pension systems once required to keep all of their money in stable and predictable bonds. Calpensions article

Retailers are growing anxious as holiday shopping season looms – Retailers are going into hyper-drive to attract shoppers with the approach ofBlack Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that officially kicks off the holiday shopping season. Unlike previous years, retailers are no longer tripping over one another to announce earlier-than-ever opening times on Turkey Day as they race to win shoppers away from rivals. Instead, merchants are heavily promoting discounts well before the turkey is carved. LA Times article

Project to link Vegas and California with train gets boost — A project to link Las Vegas and Southern California with a high-speed train got a boost this week when the newly formed Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority approved an exclusive relationship with long-suffering XpressWest. AP article 

Crabbing ban challenges coastal restaurants — The wave of toxic crabs off the California coast will hit the fishing industry especially hard, but for many Californians, the sting will come when they sit down to peruse restaurant menus. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Athena Awards: Worthy recognition for San Joaquin women — Brenna Butler Garcia, chief executive of the San Joaquin County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Pamela A. Eibeck, president of University of the Pacific, were honored at the Greater Stockton Area Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Awards luncheon Thursday at Stockton Golf & Country Club. Stockton Record article

Pfizer, Allergan combining in $160 billion deal — Pfizer and Allergan will join in a $160 billion deal to create the world’s largest drugmaker. It’s the biggest health care deal ever and the largest so-called inversion in history, a tax-saving maneuver in which a U.S. company reorganizes in a country with a lower corporate tax rate. U.S. efforts to curb the practice have so far proven ineffectual. LA Times article 

Teamsters pact boosts struggling tech bus drivers’ pay, benefits – Bus drivers for major companies like Yahoo, Genentech and eBay approved a three-year contract Sunday that gives them higher pay, better benefits and, for the first time, paid holidays, a milestone for some workers who until recently were struggling financially or homeless.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Nuclear accord paves way for importing Persian rugs into U.S. again — A 2010 embargo on Iranian-made rugs has meant tough times for sellers such as Helmi, who found his carpets, some of them as featherweight as a down comforter, caught up in a clash of diplomats, geopolitics and nuclear brinkmanship. This summer’s landmark international nuclear agreement, however, has paved the way for importing rugs once again in what was once Iran’s largest foreign market. LA Times article


Modesto moves to restrict watering to once a week – Modesto could restrict outdoor watering to one day a week after missing its state mandate for saving water. Officials are expected to ask the City Council on Tuesday to approve changes to Modesto’s drought contingency plan, which would limit outdoor watering to once a week effective Dec. 1. Modesto Bee article

Steve Nelsen: Does Visalia need CalWater? – Visalia’s mayor writes, “We’ve heard it for years from the community: Why doesn’t the City buy Cal Water? The Council is concerned about the long-term trends, including increasing rates, and believes that it is time to obtain the data so the Council and this community can consider whether owning our water system is an option that should be pursued.” Nelsen op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Turlock Irrigation District might expand water-saving project near Hilmar — The Turlock Irrigation District might expand a small reservoir near Hilmar that was created last year to catch excess canal flows. Modesto Bee article

Experimental pasture poultry farm at UC Davis to provide timely research — When a flock of white-feathered chickens saunters out of a portable coop dubbed “the Eggmobile” at UC Davis, it’s like they are hopping into the future – from a not-so-distant past. The flock of 150 Lohmann White chickens are part of an experiment in pasture poultry farming, one in which veterinary, engineering and plant sciences departments are employing their expertise. The goal: to test different methods of raising chickens on pastureland. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

As crime rises in LA, police, community take action — In response to the rising numbers, the LAPD has deployed hundreds of elite officers to crime hot spots, increased the number of officers walking the streets versus patrolling in cars, and created a community relationship division dedicated to building the public’s trust in police officers. AP article


California student suspension rate drops as ‘willful defiance’ punishments decline — School suspension rates have fallen in California for students of every ethnicity in the last three years, a sign that a shift in discipline practices in many school districts is starting to have an effect, according to a study released Monday by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the UCLA Civil Rights Project. EdSource article 

UCI vows better environment for African Americans after complaints —  UC Irvine is vowing to create a more positive environment for African American students. UCI Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Thomas Parham last week outlined the recommendations that were submitted by a task force in June. He also shared what progress has been made, including development of an African American scholars hall and a Black Resource Center. LA Times article


El Nino may trigger floods, famine and sickness in much of the world – Although many Californians hope forecasts of a “Godzilla” El Niño will deliver drought-busting rains this winter, mention of the mysterious climate phenomenon inspires dread in much of the world. LA Times article

Diablo Canyon may have a friend in Jerry Brown — As a young governor in the 1970s, Jerry Brown tried and failed to block the opening of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, near San Luis Obispo. Now the plant is nearing the end of its operating licenses, which need to be renewed in order to keep Diablo running past 2024. And if he wanted to, Brown could make renewal very difficult for the plant’s owner, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. But does he want to? San Francisco Chronicle article

Ducks and geese bring concern at Modesto’s Naraghi Lake — Teresa Beaugh had been keeping an eye on the lake and the ducks and geese that drink out of it since June. That’s when she became concerned about their well-being upon seeing them cross a busy street with their babies to get food in nearby grassy areas. Modesto Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Would you trust a hospital to scan your fingerprint? — Soon, it might become the norm to verify your identity at the hospital or clinic by scanning your fingerprint. One California clinic, the Kern County Medical Center in Bakersfield, recently started experimenting with a biometric fingerprint reader, called SafeChx, to avoid mixing up patients with similar names, and potentially even crack down on fraud. It’s the first hospital in California to use the SafeChx system. KQED report

Other areas

U.S. system to detect bioterrorism can’t be counted on, government watchdog finds – The nation’s main defense against biological terrorism — a $1-billion network of air samplers in cities across the country — cannot be counted on to detect an attack, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office. LA Times article 

Classic cars retuned to Fresno veteran after being stolen the night before Veterans Day — Don and Faith Klein were all smiles Sunday as they stood in front of their 1956 Chevy Bel Air and 1966 El Camino – parked in front of the California Highway Patrol Central Division office in Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Beware of unintended consequences when trying to nab terrorists.

Modesto Bee – The local tea party is boiling over with the thought that some Middle Eastern refugees have been relocated to Stanislaus County. Stoked by fear-mongering politicians from coast to coast, these frightened people are apparently ready to march on the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meeting at 9 a.m. Tuesday at 1010 Tenth Street. We’re not certain what they hope to accomplish. 

Sacramento Bee – Here’s how legislative leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown can prove they have nothing to hide: Embrace two proposed initiatives that would shine more light on government, lobbying and campaign spending.

Maddy Events

Sunday, Nov. 29, at 5 p.m. on Fresno ABC30 – Maddy Report: Employment Conditions Post-Recession: Same As It Ever Way — Guests: California Budget Center Policy Analyst Luke Reidenbach, National Federation of Independen Business (NFIB) California State Director Tom Scott. 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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