November 24, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: Cowardice helps pass refugee bill – It was a profile in cowardice, not courage. On Thursday, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted 289-137 for a bill the GOP leadership admitted was “quickly cobbled together” to tighten up procedures for admitting refugees from Syria.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

When Brown’s rock concert fundraiser struck a sour note — Gov. Jerry Brown is now considered an elder statesman of California politics. But he had a much more iconoclastic reputation in the 1970s and ’80s, during his first two gubernatorial terms. As governor, Brown ran for president on a decidedly youthful theme. LA Times article

Valley politics

Two terms or not two terms? Ralph Lee White raises legal question on Stockton city charter — Attorney Michael Babitzke says his client is performing nothing less than “an act of citizen heroism,” but it will take a while to see if former City Councilman Ralph Lee White’s legal appeal actually has any legal appeal. Associate Justices George Nicholson, Coleman Blease and Elena Duarte of the California Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit listened Monday morning to arguments for and against White’s assertion that Stockton’s charter should have rendered Ann Johnston ineligible to run for a second term as mayor in 2012. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Joel Fox: The return of George Deukmejian (in spirit) — California’s 35th governor, George Deukmejian, built much of his political capitol being tough on crime. The former attorney general wrote the state’s capital punishment law while in the legislature. While governor, Deukmejian supported strong crime laws and appointed tough judges. He built new prisons and while he served as governor the prison population increased three-fold. I bring up the former governor because the issues of crime and punishment that propelled his political rise appear to be once again taking hold as a priority concern of voters as we head into the election of 2016 and beyond. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Other areas 

LA art collector vows to cut off funds to Democrats who voted for Syrian refugee bill — Philanthropist and retired television executive Blake Byrne sent an email to several Democrats Monday, including California Reps. Julia Brownley (West Lake Village), John Garamendi (Walnut Grove) and Scott Peters (San Diego), saying he is “greatly disappointed” they voted with Republicans and that he will no longer donate in any way to their campaigns. LA Times article

Joe Altschule: See what happens when we fear fear itself — So what do we hear from the far right wing when terror strikes? Suspend our Constitution, discard our notions of fairness, essentially admit that when terrorists create terror, they can win, because when that happens, we abandon our democratic principles. They are the terrorists’ best recruiting tools. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Tom Fife: Sure there’s fear … of what Obama and Hillary created — So, is it really any wonder why people with common sense are becoming fearful? 2015 is not 1941, and America with Barack Obama is not the same as America with FDR. The America of 2015 with Barack Obama, no longer sees the need to win. We have lost our way … Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

News Stories

Top Stories

Strapped for doctors: California’s rural clinics backlogged with Medi-Cal influx — The changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act mean thousands of rural residents who never had insurance are connecting with health care for the first time. But that newfound demand has only added to the wait times for urgent and routine care in rural communities that already were short of physicians and clinics. Sacramento Bee article

Bakersfield, Cal Water miss conservation targets in October – Water conservation efforts suffered a dramatic setback in October at two of Bakersfield’s biggest water companies, and officials aren’t sure why. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy 

Providing essential services for low wages — Momentum is building for a higher minimum wage. Already, 14 localities in California have passed local ordinances that call for a higher wage than the state minimum, with more local ordinances on the way. The state wage is set to go to $10 per hour on Jan. 1, but there is a strong political push — both in the Legislature and among ballot initiative proponents — to set that wage as high as $15 by the end of the decade. The Grizzly Bear Project article

San Joaquin County supervisors vote to keep funding program – San Joaquin County’s AgVenture program will be alive for at least the next three years. The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors has approved a $178,448 Specialty Crop Block Grant for the AgVenture Program. Stockton Record article 

Fresno snackmaker P*DE*Q wins entrepreneurship competition — Flavia Takahashi-Flores and her Fresno snack company, P*DE*Q, won top honors from a panel of judges from the business and venture capital communities at the Valley Entrepreneur Showcase, a highlight of the Central Valley Venture Forum last week in Clovis. Fresno Bee article

HUD head count shows drop in U.S. homeless numbers — New figures released by the Department of Housing and Urban Development on Thursday showed that 564,708 people were homeless on a night in January of this year, a 2 percent drop from 2014. Washington Post article

Foon Rhee: Give thanks by giving back — You can tell a lot about a community’s strength and unity by how much money and time its residents are willing to give to worthy causes. Rhee in Sacramento Bee 

Merced prepares for weekend of shopping – The shopping season is upon Merced once again, as businesses small and big offer deals on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and other sales efforts. Merced Sun-Star article 

San Francisco pharma company soars on investment by Martin Shkreli — The controversial head of Turing Pharmaceuticals is back in the news with an investment in a foundering South San Francisco pharmaceutical company that has sent its stock to the stratosphere. San Jose Mercury News article 

At Sierra ski resorts, snowflakes – and optimism – are in the air – Thanks in part to El Niño, a series of strong storms have blanketed the Sierras with snow. Another storm this week is expected to deliver another layer of the white stuff — and draw skiers back to resorts. LA Times article 

Start-up app Purple fills up gas for some time-crunched customers — Even in an era when no errand is too small to outsource to a smartphone application, start-up Purple, which dispatches a stranger to fill up your gas tank, might smack as on-demand capitalism gone too far. That’s right. You can now push a button to get gas — no trip to the station required. LA Times article

OK, so where is this El Nino already? – We don’t pretend to actual meteorological sophistication, so what the forecasters say is likely to happen may well come to pass. Still, until we see the storms lined up across the Pacific, we’ll be imagining what California will look like if the models go bust again. To close, here are stats for a few of California’s key reservoirs and where they stand now, compared with their all-time lows. KQED report

Riverbank considers banning timed sprinklers – Lawn and landscape sprinklers would be outlawed through April 30, and people could water outside by hand only one day a week, if City Council members approve harsh new emergency drought restrictions Tuesday. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento-area water conservation at 27 percent for October – Sacramento-area residents cut their water consumption by 27 percent for the second straight month in October, the Sacramento Regional Water Authority reported Monday. Sacramento Bee article 

Flying into the heart of the West’s biggest storms – The flight is gathering data for an ambitious project known as CalWater 2015. The researchers’ ultimate goal is nothing less than to learn how the West Coast gets its water. Theirs is a story of rivers in the sky, motes of dust and sturdy aircraft. KQED report 

Don’t eat this snow: Sierra resort to use recycled water for slopes — Should El Niño not live up to the hype and dump heavy snow on the Sierra, skiers and sledders at one resort could be gliding downhill this winter on snow that comes from an unusual source: purified water from the local sewage-treatment plant. Sacramento Bee article 

Putting the chicken before the egg — The market, while still small, is growing fast for pastured eggs, which means that hens live in housing that allows them to spend much of their day in open pasture. New York Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Parents of accused Bakersfield Police Department detective put their home on line to secure his release – A Bakersfield police detective charged under a 16-count federal indictment for allegedly accepting tens of thousands of dollars from a methamphetamine dealer in exchange for helping the dealer avoid arrest was released on his own recognizance following his first court hearing Friday. Bakersfield Californian article

First defendant in Fresno deputy police chief drug case is sentenced – The first of seven defendants snarled in a federal drug-trafficking ring that prosecutors contend was run by former Fresno police Deputy Chief Keith Foster was sentenced Monday to a year in prison for mailing several pounds of marijuana through a package delivery company. Fresno Bee article

$4.9 million settlement in death of mentally ill homeless man Kelly Thomas – A 4.9-million settlement has been reached in the death of mentally ill homeless man Kelly Thomas. The city of Fullerton and current and former police officers reached the settlement Monday with Thomas’ father, his attorney confirmed Monday. LA Times article

Merced County Sheriff’s Office swears in new corrections staff – The Merced County Sheriff’s Office swore in eight correctional officers Monday morning as the department works to boost its ranks. Merced Sun-Star article

3 charged with murder, robbery in fatal shooting of Downey police officer — Prosecutors charged two more men Monday with fatally shooting Downey police Officer Ricardo “Ricky” Galvez in a botched robbery attempt last week. LA Times article


Study: California school textbooks seen as spineless on climate change — Science textbooks in California schools — including in San Francisco and Oakland — are wishy-washy when it comes to climate change, offering middle school students caveats and conditional language that downplay the scientific consensus on the warming of the planet, according to a Stanford University study released Monday. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Clovis students rank high in state’s Healthy Fitness Zone scores — Clovis Unified students seem to be more physically fit than students in nearby districts — and across the state — according to Healthy Fitness Zone scores recently released by the California Department of Education. Clovis Independent article 

Fresno State names new Arts and Humanities dean – Fresno State has named Dr. Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, effective Jan. 1. The Business Journal article

Merced College names new VP — The Merced College Board of Trustees approved the hiring of a new vice president of instruction this month. Brian Ellison’s appointment was accepted on Nov. 10. Ellison is set to return to Merced College where he taught psychology and sociology from 1988 to 2000. Merced Sun-Star article

Teaching the most important lessons – There was a buzz coming out of the Hornet’s Nest, otherwise known as the Shasta Elementary School multipurpose room, and it was all for a good cause. Principal Audrey Greene and a dozen staff members were putting the final touches on packages of donated books, blankets and teddy bears that will be given to one of the 800 homeless or less-fortunate students enrolled in the Manteca Unified School District. Stockton Record article

Facebook yanks ‘White Student Union’ page at UC Berkeley – A Facebook page created over the weekend claiming to represent a “White Student Union” at UC Berkeley has been removed by the social media company after it found that the page creator had used a fake name. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Hundreds protest after hate crime report at San Diego State — About 400 people participated in a march and demonstration Monday at San Diego State in response to a report of a hate crime against a Muslim student last week. LA Times article 

There’s more to a ‘growth mindset’ than assuming you have it — Stanford University psychology professor Carol Dweck coined the phrase “growth mindset” as the belief that you can develop your abilities, and then watched as the term took hold as a meme for motivation on playgrounds and in classrooms across America. Now she’s worried about its misapplication.  EdSource article


California regulators cut antiterror spending for power plants – A new state law mandating that utilities take steps to protect power plants from terrorist attacks is being held hostage in a fight between the California Public Utilities Commission and legislators over the agency’s $5 million legal tab in corruption investigations. San Francisco Chronicle article 

PG&E could face stiff fines for banned exchanges with regulators – The California Public Utilities Commission Monday announced it will consider levying fines against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for violating rules that are meant to prevent backroom deals. KQED report

California, a climate model for the world, has work to do at home — While the state is a global model for climate policy, however, it also produces more greenhouse gas emissions per person than almost anywhere else in the world, due partly to its heavy reliance on cars. Among the eight largest economies, California is second only to the U.S. in emissions per capita. CALmatters article

How warmer waters have led to emaciated seals on California beaches — The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito is calling 2015 “a year like no other,” and not in a good way. The center says the 1,747 seals and sea lions it has rescued this year is an all-time high, “breaking nearly every record” in its 40 years of existence. KQED report

Health/Human Services 

UCSF Fresno receives $1 million gift to open center on aging – A $1 million gift from the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation will help UCSF-Fresno establish a center on aging to serve a growing senior population in the central San Joaquin Valley, officials said Monday. Fresno Bee article 

How the Affordable Care Act helped millennials chill out – Although young people have been slow to sign up on their own, insurance plans have to cover dependent children through age 26, resulting in increased coverage – and a lot more young people who don’t necessarily have to work in order to have access to health care. New research suggests that some of those young people are taking advantage of the newfound freedom, and are feeling pretty good about it. Washington Post article

Adult who got E. coli at Chipotle in Turlock was hospitalized – More information surfaced on the two people sickened by E. coli bacteria after eating at a Chipotle restaurant in Turlock last month. One was a Merced County man who was hospitalized at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. County health officials said he reported eating at the Countryside Drive restaurant Oct. 19 and came down with symptoms four days later. Modesto Bee article 

Supervisor Perea seeks Fresno County report on slain boy — Fresno County Supervisor Henry R. Perea said Monday he will try to obtain the release of a report about the death of Seth Ireland, a 10-year-old who died after repeated abuse in 2009. Fresno Bee article

Fresno Bee: What to do with those extra prescription drugs — If Walgreens can spend $17.2 billion to buy Rite Aid, it can find a way to collect unwanted pills that kill tens of thousands annually. Both CVS and Walgreens do team with police departments throughout the year and for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, but it’s not enough. Congress should support the DROP Act. Fresno Bee editorial

Land Use/Housing 

Fresno apartment complex without heat could require major repairs – A central Fresno apartment complex where residents have gone without heat and hot water for nearly two weeks will need its entire natural gas piping replumbed in order to safely restore access to heating and cooking, a city official said Monday. Fresno Bee article

Hollywood debate is trial run for LA growth fight — The Palladium project is, in many ways, just what elected leaders at Los Angeles City Hall say they want. LA Times article


Politifact: Is private sector ‘unwilling’ to fund California’s bullet train? – California’s bullet train project has faced new criticism in recent weeks. Its leaders have been accused of hiding higher cost estimates and failing to win funding from the private sector. One recent attack by a Central Valley state lawmaker caught the attention of Capital Public Radio’s PolitiFact reporter Chris Nichols. Capital Public Radio report 

Study: One-third of nation’s 30 worst traffic bottlenecks are in LA area – A study released Monday confirms what every Southern Californian behind the wheel already knows: Freeway traffic jams in the Los Angeles region are some of the worst in the United States. LA Times article

Sanger awarded $500,000 ‘active’ transportation grant — Sanger officials announced last week that CalTrans has awarded the City of Sanger with one of its highly competitive Active Transportation Program (ATP) grants. Sanger will receive the full grant amount requested ($513,000) for various projects improving infrastructure, safety and student activity around the city. The Business Journal article 

Upbeat feds revising self-driving car position — Federal transportation officials are rethinking their position on self-driving cars with an eye toward getting the emerging technology into the public’s hands, according to a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Transportation. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Modesto to hear from departing councilmen, swear in new officials – Modesto’s three outgoing councilmen will have the chance to make their final remarks before their successors are sworn in at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Modesto Bee article 

Suspicious device in downtown Modesto turns out to be pot tool — Ninth Street in front of the Modesto Downtown Transportation Center was closed off for about an hour and a half Monday morning when a caller to 911 reported what looked like a pipe bomb. The roughly foot-long length of dark plastic pipe, 4 to 6 inches in diameter and capped at both ends, turned out to be a device to extract oil from marijuana plants. Modesto Bee article 

Jeff Jardine: ‘DuWright’ and friends do right by Modesto woman — People often talk about “paying it forward,” the gist being that if you do something nice for someone, that someday someone will do something nice for you. Or something like that… Which is nice if it actually works out that way. There’s also something to be said for those who do something nice for someone else because its simply the right thing to do and expect nothing in return. Or something like that… Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – If Walgreens can spend $17.2 billion to buy Rite Aid, it can find a way to collect unwanted pills that kill tens of thousands annually. Both CVS and Walgreens do team with police departments throughout the year and for National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, but it’s not enough. Congress should support the DROP Act.

Merced Sun-Star – Another week, another demand for a resignation. That’s the way it is on America’s college campuses. Problem is, many of these young adults don’t seem to have grasped the concept of proportional response.

Sacramento Bee – Another week, another demand for a resignation. That’s the way it is on America’s college campuses. Problem is, many of these young adults don’t seem to have grasped the concept of proportional response; We’re in the heat of a presidential campaign in which terrorism is a major issue. So the candidates can be forgiven the occasional mention of 9/11, the worst terrorist attack on American soil. But some are already taking this license too far.
Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers on hiring more sworn officers in San Joaquin County and Stockton, honoring “Freedom Fighters,” and other issues.

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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