November 25, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Dan Walters: What really motivated cuts to California’s Senate? – Those in and around the Capitol are wondering, with good reason, whether the Senate’s squeeze is as severe as de León would have us believe, or is just a convenient rationale for political housecleaning.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Obama’s immigration action creates an opening for scam artists too – With some questions remaining about how the plan will work, government officials, advocacy groups and bar associations are warning those in the country without legal status to consult only licensed attorneys and others authorized to provide legal advice on immigration matters.  LA Times article


Gov. Brown

Willie Brown: Jerry Brown’s UC tuition battle may boomerang – That’s quite a showdown looming between Gov. Jerry Brown and University of California President Janet Napolitano. My money is on Napolitano.  Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

Gov. Brown names Obama administration lawyer to California Supreme Court — Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday nominated a deputy assistant attorney general in the Obama administration to the California Supreme Court, continuing to recast the high court with Democratic appointees from outside the judiciary. Leondra Kruger, 38, will be the first African American justice on the court since Justice Janice Rogers Brown left the court in 2005.  Capitol AlertLA Times articleKQED reportAP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article


Valley politics 

It’s official: San Joaquin County election turnout abysmal — San Joaquin County voters turned out in record low numbers in final election results released Monday that also showed leaders becoming victors in close local races. Only 40.07 percent of registered voters in the county cast ballots, the lowest turnout in a gubernatorial general election in the county on record, said San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Austin Erdman.  Stockton Record article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Tony Quinn: How to blow nine congressional districts — It was quite a feat.  Congressional Republicans had a chance to win nine Democratic-held House seats in California and blew every one of them – actually ending up down one seat in an election when nationally the House GOP has its largest class since the Hoover Administration.  How they blew these seats is a story in itself.  Quinn in Fox & Hounds



Joel Fox: Survey: A divide over immigration plan — If Fresno is an appropriate test market for political issues then the country is as a whole is evenly divided on President Barack Obama’s immigration proposals. A Survey USA poll taken on Friday after the president’s announcement tallied a dead even split in Fresno. One-third of Fresno residents who were aware of the president’s proposal agree with all his changes; one-third disagrees, and one-third agrees with some changes and disagrees with other changes.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Fresno’s Mexican Consulate to expand services following Obama’s immigration announcement – The Consulate of Mexico plans to expand its services in the central San Joaquin Valley in response to President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration last week. That includes expanding the consulate’s call center, increasing hours of operation and outreach to areas outside of Fresno, and collaborating with immigration attorneys and local nonprofits to explain the new programs and help people apply.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento’s Mexican Consulate helped undocumented immigrants use Obama’s action – Undocumented immigrants looking to qualify for President Barack Obama’s new “lawful action” program were warned by the Mexican Consulate in Sacramento on Monday about dishonest attorneys and immigration consultants – known as “notarios” – who make false promises, take their money and run.  Sacramento Bee article

Oakland groups brace for thousands seeking Obama’s immigration relief – Mayor Jean Quan said Monday she expects tens of thousands of local immigrants will be eligible for work permits and protection from deportation through President Barack Obama’s sweeping new immigration action, lifting a cloud over broad sections of the city.  Oakland Tribune article

President sets immigration enforcement priorities, still gives discretion to border agents — Much of the backlash against President Obama’s executive order on immigration is focused on the charge that he’s exceeded his legal authority. However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents already had broad discretion to make decisions in the field. KPCC report

Other areas

Ferguson announcement prompts protests, disappointment in Sacramento – As protests took place nationwide, demonstrations in Sacramento and elsewhere in the state were passionate but largely peaceful.  Sacramento Bee article

Ferguson protest sparks Oakland freeway shutdown, looting – Sorrow and anger over the decision by a grand jury in Missouri not to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black man sent demonstrators into the streets in the Bay Area, with hundreds of people shutting down Interstate 580 in Oakland for hours.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Ferguson decisions: Sadness and anger in LA —  As details of the grand jury decision in Ferguson, Mo., trickled out Monday night, many in Los Angeles braced for a painfully familiar outcome.  LA Times article

Justice Department likely to impose reforms on Ferguson police – Those hoping the federal government will criminally prosecute Ferguson, Mo., police Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of an unarmed black man are likely to be disappointed, but chances are strong that the Justice Department will impose significant reforms on the city’s police department through its ongoing civil investigation.  LA Times article

Ballot order scrutinized in AD39 race – Did ballot order cost an incumbent assemblyman his seat? That’s one theory promoted by those trying to decipher one of the 2014 election’s big upsets: Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra, D-Los Angeles, a prolific fundraiser rumored to harbor aspirations of becoming the next Assembly speaker, conceded his race to a virtually unknown challenger.  Capitol Alert

Tribe becomes first to launch online gambling in New Jersey — California’s Pala Indians have launched their Internet gambling site in New Jersey following a test period last week, becoming the first tribe to do so in the state.  AP article


News Briefs

Top Stories

In Chukchansi turmoil, financiers have a bottom line: Will casino reopen? – Without casino revenues, the tribe will be unable to meet its financial obligations, thus raising the specter — for the second time in three years — of default. Investors who have put more than $250 million into the hotel and casino are growing more nervous with each week the casino remains closed and the tribal infighting continues.  Fresno Bee article

Report highlights Valley’s clean economy – Helped by its knowledge of water and agriculture, the San Joaquin Valley has become a driving leader in the clean economy, according to a new report by Next 10. The report, Clean Valley: San Joaquin Valley Leveraging Natural Resources to Grown the Clean Economy, showed that the San Joaquin Valley contributed 10,566 jobs to the clean economy in 2014.  The Business Journal article


Jobs and the Economy

Stockton City Council: Decisions to be made tonight on funding projects – Five months after first setting aside a six-figure sum to address a menu of pet priorities, the Stockton City Council will gather tonight to make specific decisions about how to spend some or all of the money.  Stockton Record article

Rent hikes for Modesto Centre Plaza move forward – Those looking to hold their business meetings, wedding receptions or trade shows at Modesto Centre Plaza – the city’s downtown convention center – may have to reach deeper into their wallets.  Modesto Bee article

Modesto-based Save Mart, employees reach agreement – Two years after labor turmoil plagued Northern California’s grocery industry, Modesto-based Save Mart Supermarkets has finalized a new contract with thousands of employees. Employees of the grocer in Sacramento and the Central Valley have approved a new contract, the two sides announced.  Sacramento Bee article

Riverbank confronts business moratoriums again – City leaders are poised Tuesday to extend temporary bans on new stores selling drug paraphernalia and on new hookah, e-cigarette and vapor lounges. The City Council also will consider an outright prohibition on Internet cafe gambling, which already is illegal under state law.  Modesto Bee article

Hanford council, Helena Chemical slate property negotiations – The Hanford City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday at 5 p.m. to negotiate an agreement to relocate Helena Chemical’s facility at East Lacey Boulevard and Highway 43 to the city’s industrial park.  Hanford Sentinel articleThe Business Journal article

Pacific Ethanol receives $3 million grant – State energy officials awarded Pacific Ethanol Inc. $3 million to help develop grain sorghum as a low-carbon feedstock, replacing some of the corn traditionally used, at its plants in Stockton and Madera.  Stockton Record article

Loan limits raised in four California counties by Fannie, Freddie – San Diego, Ventura, Monterey and Napa, along with 42 other counties across the nation, will see their upper limits for Fannie and Freddie loans increase in 2015 as a result of rising home prices.  LA Times article

Food bank giveaway: A community responds – With just 544 turkeys in the freezer, the desperate call for donations went out last week. And boy, did Stockton respond. As a result, the Stockton/San Joaquin Emergency Food Bank was able to distribute more than 2,300 turkeys on Monday morning to families in need.  Stockton Record article

Youth come to work, leave with skills and better lives – Established by Gov. Jerry Brown during his first tenure in 1976, the California Conservation Corps in the Stockton area is probably best known for its work preventing floods. This time, however, it’s the opposite problem. The Corps received about $13 million for drought-relief projects around the state, including water conservation and a reduction in fire danger.  Stockton Record article

Bare-chested barista boys serve coffee, eye candy in Fresno — Java boys have now joined Java Girls Espresso — shirtless java boys. The coffee shop with scantily clad workers dubbed “bikini baristas” in northwest Fresno now employs a couple of men. They, too, wear very little while making cappuccinos and white chocolate mochas.  Fresno Bee article

Airbnb foes want tougher new law — San Francisco’s new “Airbnb law” doesn’t take effect until Feb. 1, but opponents already are gearing up to ask voters to approve tougher regulations.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Put money aside for Giving Tuesday, help local nonprofits – Giving Tuesday, a world-wide campaign which encourages people to donate to favorite charities, is catching on in Tulare County. It happens Dec. 2, following Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Kelly Bearden:  Shopping small: Treasures can be found in Kern’s businesses – The director of the Small Business Development Center at CSU Bakersfield writes, “Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is a nationwide event that began only five years ago but already is receiving billions of dollars in support. With help from American Express, Small Business Saturday began in 2010 to showcase the products and services of local companies. On the Saturday following Thanksgiving, people are encouraged to “shop small” and buy products at a local store.”  Bearden op-ed in Bakersfield Californian



Earth Log: It’s nitty-gritty time for Temperance Dam funding — This isn’t over. The San Joaquin Valley campaign for Temperance Flat Reservoir may have moved forward on federal drawing boards, and it may have gotten a shot of adrenaline when the $7.5 billion water bond past this month. But the public money is not committed here yet. Instead, a spotlight has suddenly appeared on the California Water Commission, a seemingly obscure, nine-member board.  Fresno Bee article

Olive oil producers warn of widespread shortage after disastrous harvest — If you’re a fan of great olive oil — particularly of oils from Tuscany and Umbria — you’d better get ready to start dipping into your wallet. That stuff’s going to get expensive. As a result of what the Italian newspaper La Repubblica is calling “The Black Year of Italian Olive Oil,” the olive harvest through much of Italy has been devastated — down 35% from last year.  And though the rest of Europe hasn’t been hit quite that hard, production in most countries is forecast to be far below last year’s.  LA Times article

Kavita Trivedi and Stuart Cohen: Legislature should address antibiotics – Trivedi, an adjunct clinical professor of medicine at Stanford University, and Cohen, professor of medicine and chief of infectious diseases at UC Davis, write, “Our legislators must address antibiotic use on California farms and can play a critical role in leading the country in improving antibiotic resistance. As a medical community, we must join to support this endeavor.” Trivedi/Cohen op-ed in Sacramento Bee
Criminal Justice/Prisons

Youngblood hoping for the best but preparing for the worst – Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said if Missouri law enforcement agencies are compelled by circumstances to use force, it will look bad to the uninitiated. “Use of force, anytime it’s videotaped, it’s not pretty,” Youngblood said Monday before the Ferguson grand jury decision was made public. “For a person who has never seen law enforcement use batons, tasers, pepper spray, it looks like it’s excessive force. That’s just the nature of use of force.” Bakersfield Californian article

District attorney protests Fresno murderer’s release to SLO – San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow is fighting the release of a Fresno murderer to San Luis Obispo on the grounds that local authorities were not properly notified.  San Luis Obispo Tribune article

California’s longest-service wrongly convict inmate is a free man – A wrongfully convicted man who spent 36 years behind bars in California was set free Monday. In Ventura, Superior Court Judge Donald D. Coleman ordered Michael Ray Hanline, 68, to be released but required that he still wear a GPS monitoring device.  LA Times articleAP article

San Francisco officers get training for policing graying adults — Police officers regularly cross paths with troubled older adults — people at risk due to substance abuse problems, those who wander from dementia-related confusion, or men and women whose neighbors have asked someone to check on them and make sure they’re OK. But police aren’t social workers, nor are they doctors. Their schedules are busy and law enforcement training doesn’t necessarily equip them to identify when a senior’s living situation is dangerous, nor teach them what services are available to older adults facing health challenges.  San Francisco Chronicle article



Rallies across UC system protest tuition hikes – Hundreds of students rallied at campuses across the UC system Monday, staging walkouts, marches and sit-ins in protest of tuition increases.  LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

UC Davis students stage walkout to protest tuition hikes – UC Davis students caught in the tug-of-war over proposed tuition increases took to bullhorns, then to city streets before occupying a campus hall Monday to protest the planned hikes.  Sacramento Bee article

Fresno State launches Student Cupboard – The Student Cupboard, which will receive food donations from the Fresno Community Food Bank and food drives, will be open to university students Monday through Friday offering free food and personal hygiene products as long as the university itself is open during the year, according to project coordinator Jessica Medina.  Fresno Bee article

Preparing teachers for career pathways – Denise Vela never thought she’d be teaching high school English quite like this, and certainly never as part of an engineering program. Vela is earning her single-subject teaching credential this year through Fresno State University. She is among the first group of participants in a program that immerses prospective teachers in linked learning career preparation programs. Such programs interweave academics with career themes, giving students practical work experience while also helping them see connections between education and future careers.  EdSource article

Network on school discipline launched — In response to efforts in many California school districts to reduce suspensions and expulsions, EdSource is convening an Educators Network for Effective School Discipline to help school and district officials as well as teachers – those most responsible for implementing discipline policies – share best practices and collaborate on successful strategies.  EdSource article

Susan Gubernat: The wrong measure of success in universities – The secretary of the CSU Academic Senate writes, “It’s time to retire an irresponsible numbers game by which the success of a state university is supposed to be measured. What do I mean by that? Take the four-year, and even six-year, degree completion rates that legislators want to use to gauge the California State University.”  Gubernat op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento State president search begins — The search for Sacramento State’s next president begins Dec. 3 with a public meeting of the trustee selection committee in the campus’ University Ballroom. California State University, Sacramento President Alexander Gonzalez, 69, announced in August that he will retire at the end of the 2014-15 academic year. He plans to remain on faculty teaching either education or psychology.  Sacramento Bee article

No deal yet for California students in sell-off by Corinthian Colleges — Corinthian is still looking for someone to take on its Canadian schools and 22 campuses in California. Most are located in the Bay Area and Southern California. Why were the California schools the only ones in the U.S. left out of the deal?  KQED report



California utilities and solar companies battle over electricity prices — Electricity bills could be going up for millions of Californians under a new proposal from the state’s major utilities. Pacific Gas and Electric is proposing an overhaul of the way customers are charged for electricity, which the utility says would be more fair for many customers. But solar companies see it as a direct attack, because the changes could make installing solar panels less appealing.  KQED report

Would ethanol help the environment?  Obama administration can’t decide — As President Obama looks to take legacy-defining actions while facing a hostile Congress, one of his more challenging decisions involves what goes into the fuel tanks of America’s cars.  LA Times article

Mark Grossi: Earth Log: This is why you were sniffing, coughing, sneezing and scratching — wrote Sunday about a cloud of chemically diverse particles that hovered in the San Joaquin Valley early this month, and I described what happens when the chemicals enter your body. In case you wanted to know more, a scientist with San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has a more detailed explanation.  Grossi in Fresno Bee

Modesto Irrigation District may cancel earthquake policy – The prospect of higher electricity bills will take center ring at Tuesday’s Modesto Irrigation District meeting, but the board also will consider dropping its earthquake insurance. The district has been paying $250,000 annual premiums for a potential payout of $5 million if “the big one” hits.  Modesto Bee article

Ask TBC: Why does it take so long to get a fireplace voucher? – In responding to a query from TBC, San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District communications director Jaime Holt writes, “We agree that wait times for voucher issuance have been too long and, since Mr. Darling’s inquiry, we have prioritized turning these vouchers around much more quickly. Thanks to the concerns identified by the community, we are now processing and mailing out vouchers within two to three business days of receiving a complete and accurate voucher application.”  Bakersfield Californian article

Judge slows Sierra Pacific’s effort to overturn Moonlight fire settlement — A judge on Monday slowed down Sierra Pacific Industries’ attempt to breathe life back into the government’s lawsuit against the timber giant over the cause of the 2007 Moonlight wildfire.  Sacramento Bee article

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet sways views on climate science — Freaky seasons and drastic weather anomalies do little to convince most people that climate change is real – political ideology does much more, according to a study published online Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Wall Street chides top California insurers for Obamacare network errors — Two leading health insurers drew new fire from Wall Street for overstating their Obamacare doctor networks and trying to deflect the blame. Last week, California regulators found that Anthem Blue Cross, a unit of publicly traded WellPoint Inc., and nonprofit insurer Blue Shield of California violated state law by giving consumers misleading information about their provider networks.  LA Times article

More Californians now die from drug overdoses than from car wrecks – About one Californian dies from an accidental drug overdose, on average, every three hours. From 2008 to 2012, about 15,725 Californians died following an overdose, according to the latest figures from the state Department of Public Health. By comparison, about 14,860 Californians died in car wrecks during that period.  Sacramento Bee article

Breaking the cycle of crisis for frequent emergency room users – Federal officials say the sickest 5 percent of Americans rack up more than half of all health care costs. They often have chronic health conditions as well as high rates of emergency room visits and hospitalizations. A San Diego program is attempting to teach these “high utilizers” how to navigate the health care system, break the cycle of crises and manage their own conditions.  KQED report

New FDA rules will put calorie counts on menus – Counting your calories will become easier under new government rules requiring chain restaurants, supermarkets, convenience stores — and even movie theaters, amusement parks and vending machines — to post the calorie content of food “clearly and conspicuously” on their menus.  AP articleNew York Times article

Sacramento winter shelter program for homeless still needs funding – The Winter Sanctuary program this year will be providing homeless guests with more than simply shelter and food, organizers said. The program will step up efforts to connect people with job training, mental health counseling and other services that could help them build stable lives.  Sacramento Bee article

Riverbank teens give ‘decoy’ cigarettes with love, anti-tobacco message — Riverbank teens slipped a little advice into the cigarette packs of friends and loved ones, hoping to start a conversation about how to kick the habit. Adelante High leadership students came up with the slightly sneaky plan as their take on the Great American Smokeout.  Modesto Bee article

Cooking class shows ex-cons how to shop and cook on a budget — In prison, some inmates would make a stew of ramen noodles, pickle juice, tuna, Velveeta cheese, sausages, hot chips, pork rinds and mayonnaise. They called it, “The Spread.” Now that they’re on the outside, inmates must learn to cook healthy food on a budget.  KQED report


Land Use/Housing

McAllister Ranch project back on track — McAllister Ranch, the southwest Bakersfield residential development project stalled by the housing collapse, is back on the table — still with an 18-hole Greg Norman golf course, but now on 600 acres instead of 2,070.  Bakersfield Californian article

Financial District high-rises being taken over by techies — Having long since conquered SoMa and spread into Mid-Market, San Francisco’s high-octane technology boom is changing the face of another territory: the Financial District.  San Francisco Chronicle article



City: Thomas Roads Program should keep name — The name’s Thomas. Bill Thomas, and the former congressman deserves to have the Thomas Roads Improvement Program named after him, City Manager Alan Tandy told a Bakersfield City Council committee Monday.   Bakersfield Californian article

Orange County takes continuous-access approach on carpool lanes — Freeway carpool lanes are being extended and tied together across Southern California, but one county is taking a decidedly different — and some studies suggest safer — approach to how they work. Orange County is reconfiguring its 267-mile network of HOV lanes so motorists can enter and exit anywhere, rather than just in designated areas that are often spaced far apart.  LA Times article


Other Areas

Modesto to consider city manager contract – The Modesto City Council on Tuesday will consider appointing interim City Manager Jim Holgersson for the permanent job and at an annual salary of $210,136.  Modesto Bee article

Bear Creek cleanup displaces Merced homeless – Employees from Merced’s Public Works Department spent Monday cleaning up homeless encampments along Bear Creek, where people live under bridges or in makeshift shelters among the reeds.  Merced Sun-Star article

Stanislaus supervisor Chiesa to lead state association – Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa will lead a state association that lobbies on behalf of the 58 counties in California. Chiesa was elected president of the California State Association of Counties at the group’s annual meeting last week in Anaheim.  Modesto Bee article

Ripon vice mayor dies suddenly – Former Ripon Police Chief Elden “Red” Nutt died suddenly last week while still holding office as the city’s vice mayor, according to an announcement from the city.  Stockton Record article

In memory of Edward Palacios, Valley Public Radio board chair — On Saturday November 15, 2014 Valley Public Radio lost a dear member of the FM89 family, with the death of the station’s board chair Ed Palacios.  KVPR report
Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – A new open enrollment period has begun, and there are plenty of issues to work out. Will premiums stay low? Will networks be sufficient? Will there be enough doctors for the new enrollees? These matters are what we should focus on, not a fake epidemic of preternaturally tender feelings.

Merced Sun-Star – Entertainment icon Mike Nichols is a model for what’s possible here.

Modesto Bee – Entertainment icon Mike Nichols is a model for what’s possible here.

Sacramento Bee – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s sacking doesn’t end the debate over wars; We agree it was a mistake to split UC Davis Medical Center from Oak Park in the 2011 Sacramento City Council redistricting. But reversing that decision is not worth the effort being expended by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers:  NCAA women’s regional a coup for Stockton Arena, Athena winners are richly deserving and other issues.