November 26, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Two-thirds of Sacramento County voters cast ballots by mail – About two out of every three Sacramento County voters cast their ballots in the Nov. 4 election by mail, setting a record for a general contest, the county’s registrar of voters said Tuesday.  Sacramento Bee article

Judge to elections officials: Reveal sources of campaign spending – In a decision that could force disclosure of some of the secret money flooding into elections, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that groups that run election-related ads must reveal their donors.  LA Times article


Valley politics

Jean Fuller: Historic moment for Kern County is a proud moment for me – The Valley state senator writes, “Bakersfield’s own Kevin McCarthy is the first Californian to be elected majority leader in the United States House of Representatives. I was there when he was elected for a full term on Nov. 13, 2014. How proud I was for Kern County and the 23rd Congressional District. It means a lot to know that a public servant of his caliber is in a unique position to represent our values.”  Fuller op-ed in Bakersfield Californian



Michael Rodriguez, Steven Wallace, and Manuel Pastor: Those safe from deportation now need access to affordable health care services – UCLA professors Rodriguez and Wallace and Pastor, USC professor of sociology and director of the Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration, writes, “Last week, President Barack Obama took a step to ease many unauthorized immigrants’ fears by directing the immigration service not to deport those who have children who are U.S. citizens and have been in the country for five or more years. While this may give undocumented immigrants relief from their fear of using health services, it does nothing to help them access those services.”  Rodriguez/Wallace/Pastor op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Margaret Bengs: What happens next on immigration? – The former Sacramento Bee contributing columnist writes, “One of the most overlooked aspects of President Barack Obama’s executive order on immigration is its impact on public safety.”  Bengs op-ed in Sacramento Bee
Other areas 

California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins announces leadership team – Laying the groundwork for the approaching California legislative session, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, has announced her floor team.  Capitol Alert

LA council wants residents to lock up or disable handguns – Los Angeles lawmakers voted Tuesday to start drafting a city ordinance that would require residents to lock up their handguns or disable them with trigger locks when they aren’t being used.  LA Times article 

Schumer: Democrats erred by pursuing health reform too soon — In a speech diagnosing his party’s political missteps in 2014, a top Senate Democrat reached back to the decision to pursue an overhaul of the health system in late 2009 as an example of how the party took its focus off middle-class priorities, saying healthcare was “the wrong problem” to address at the time.  LA Times article

More than 100 gather at Ferguson vigil in Fresno – More than 100 people gathered Tuesday evening at Eaton Plaza in downtown Fresno to hold a prayer vigil for Ferguson, Missouri, teenager Michael Brown and to hear speakers discuss racial equality and the demilitarization of police forces.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento police union head criticizes mayor’s comments on Ferguson indictment decision – The head of the Sacramento police union said Tuesday he was upset with comments made Monday night by Mayor Kevin Johnson after a Missouri grand jury decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown.  Sacramento Bee article

Ferguson: Local demonstrators protest Missouri grand jury’s decision – A small group of demonstrators gathered Tuesday afternoon outside Stockton City Hall to protest police brutality and a St. Louis County grand jury’s decision not to indict the police officer who fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.  Stockton Record article

Oakland protests over Ferguson decision turn violent — A second night of coast-to-coast protests over a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer for fatally shooting a black man found fertile ground — again — in Oakland, where protesters looted businesses, lit fires, attacked police and shut down two freeways.  San Francisco Chronicle article

LA protests over Ferguson decision continue for second night —  As protesters poured through the streets of Los Angeles for a second night Tuesday, they chanted about change and racial injustice while rallying against a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the August death of an unarmed black man.  LA Times article

Carly Fiorina actively explores 2016 presidential run but faces GOP critics — On a Republican presidential debate stage expected to be filled with more than a dozen current and former politicians, Carly Fiorina envisions herself standing out — as the only woman and the only CEO.  Washington Post article

Same-sex marriage bans in Mississippi, Arkansas overturned — Arkansas and Mississippi on Tuesday became the latest states to have same-sex marriage bans overturned by federal judges, but there are no rushes to the altar as both orders are on hold so the states can consider appeals.  LA Times article


News Briefs

Top Stories 

Cal State funding talks include scenario of turning away freshmen — The University of California’s decision to raise tuition generated much controversy. But the California State system could consider what by some measures is an even more radical plan as it struggles with budget constraints and increasing demand from freshmen and community college transfers. Rather than increasing tuition, Cal State has reduced enrollment targets for this fall. And trustees recently discussed the dark scenario of having to stop accepting freshmen.  LA Times article

State wants to preserve 5,000 acres of farmland to replace acreage lost to high-speed rail — Central Valley farmland owners will soon be eligible for $20 million from the California High-Speed Rail Authority in exchange for a commitment not to develop their agricultural property. The rail agency, in partnership with the state Department of Conservation, announced Tuesday it is looking to make deals on 5,000 acres to replace the farmland expected to be removed from production by the massive rail project.  Bakersfield Californian article


Jobs and the Economy

CalPERS: Pensioners will eventually outnumber pension contributors – The ratio of employees paying into CalPERS to retirees taking money out fell 25 percent in the last decade, according to a recent report to the fund’s board, and the trend will continue for years to come.  Sacramento Bee article

CalPERS deal with San Bernardino bad for bondholders, credit firm says – Wall Street has examined the bankrupt city of San Bernardino’s agreement to pay its CalPERS pension bills in full, and it isn’t happy. Calling the agreement a “credit negative,” Moody’s Investors Service said Monday that the CalPERS deal means San Bernardino probably will pay bondholders less than 100 cents on the dollar.  Sacramento Bee article
Black Friday shopping frenzy creeps early and stays late this year – Black Friday is different this year. Not only is it really Black Thursday — also known as Thanksgiving — because so many stores are opening earlier than ever but the debate over it is louder than ever.  Fresno Bee article

Merced shops ready for Black Friday – Local business owners in Merced are preparing for a busy shopping weekend as they compete for dollars with the big-box stores on Thanksgiving evening, Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Working Thanksgiving?  California bill would double wages – Californians working through the holidays could get heftier paychecks under legislation mandating double pay for Thanksgiving and Christmas shifts.  Sacramento Bee article

Thanksgiving menu costs rise slightly – A Thanksgiving feast for 10 people will cost an average of $49.41 this year, up just 37 cents from 2013, according to an annual survey. The figures — including turkey, sweet potatoes and dairy items produced in great volume in and near Stanislaus County — came from the American Farm Bureau Federation.  Modesto Bee article

CoreLogic:  Valley foreclosure rates fell in September – Central Valley foreclosure and delinquency rates continued to fall in September, according to new data from real estate research firm CoreLogic. In Fresno, foreclosures among outstanding mortgage loans were 0.79 percent in September, compared to 1.17 percent in September 2013.  The Business Journal article

Distressed home sales dip in October – Distressed home sales in the San Joaquin Valley were on their way down in October, but remained almost double the statewide figures.  The Business Journal article

Economy grows at stronger-than-expected 3.9 percent pace in third quarter – The economy grew faster in the third quarter than initially thought, expanding at a solid 3.9% annual rate, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The figure was unexpectedly better than the 3.5% annual rate the government reported in its first estimate last month.  LA Times article

Stockton City Council funds various programs and projects – With Black Friday just around the corner, the City Council went on a shopping spree Tuesday night, shelling out $350,000 for pet projects big and small after sitting on the money for the previous five months.  Stockton Record article

Rescheduled California-Quebec carbon auction called ‘a success’ — California’s latest auction of carbon emissions allowances proceeded smoothly Tuesday, about a week later than originally scheduled.  Sacramento Bee article

San Francisco surges past LA as home to ‘ultra rich,’ survey finds – San Francisco saw its “ultra-rich” population jump 12% this year, pushing it past Los Angeles as the California home to those worth $30 million or more, a survey said. The survey, by the research firm Wealth-X in partnership with Swiss banking giant UBS, says San Francisco has 5,460 ultra-rich residents in 2014, up from 4,840 a year ago. Los Angeles has 5,135, up 4% from 4,945.  LA Times article

Michael Hiltzik: A look at poverty in America, from the inside — The little-recognized reality of poverty in America is how closely it lurks beneath the surface of even a successful professional life. A bad career turn, a couple of financial missteps, and — here comes the dizzying plunge from middle class to underclass.  Hiltzik in LA Times

Fertilizer firm surprised by controversy – An agricultural fertilizer retailer has found itself in the middle of a conflict between the Hanford City Council and the developer of the proposed Costco shopping center on East Lacey Boulevard.  Hanford Sentinel article

Southern California home prices flat in September, Case-Shiller says — Southern California’s housing market isn’t going much of anywhere. Home prices in Los Angeles and Orange counties held steady in September— the second straight month they failed to rise or fall, according to Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index, released Tuesday.  LA Times article

SpaceX may upset firm’s monopoly in launching Air Force satellites — Entrepreneur Elon Musk and his upstart company SpaceX are on the verge of upsetting a cozy and pricey military deal that for years has given two aerospace giants the exclusive right to launch the Air Force’s most crucial satellites into orbit.  LA Times article

Costa Mesa sued over law limiting stays at motels – A recently enacted law that limits how long people can stay at motels in Costa Mesa was illegally designed to target low-income residents, a lawsuit filed against the city alleges.  LA Times article

Democratic bigwigs fail to sway garbage deal in Daly City — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Rep. Jackie Speier, Chronicle columnist and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, and state Democratic Party Chairman John Burton all pitched calls to Daly City’s mayor in an effort to swing a contract in favor of garbage giant Recology. It didn’t work, but the effort certainly stirred up quite a buzz in San Francisco’s southern neighbor, with Daly City Council woman Carol Klatt calling out the bunch for meddling in a local decision.  San Francisco Chronicle article



Merced supervisors move forward on groundwater ordinance – Merced County’s first ordinance regulating out-of-county groundwater transfers will have its first reading and possible adoption early next month, county supervisors decided Tuesday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Kings County water leaders: Groundwater law needs clarification – Question: If you’re a Kings County water leader, what do you do to implement the new state groundwater sustainability law? Answer: Wait for the state to clarify exactly what you have to do.  Hanford Sentinel article

Stanislaus County will take a harder look at well permit applications – Stanislaus County supervisors voted Tuesday to tighten the rules for well permits, requiring farmers outside irrigation districts to show that new wells won’t have a detrimental affect on groundwater.  Modesto Bee article

Local leaders decry drought inaction – The Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation held a press conference Tuesday denouncing the delay in drought legislation until 2015.  The group was joined by representatives from the Downtown Business Hub, Fresno County Farm Bureau, California Farm Water Coalition, California Water Alliance and several concerned community members.  The Business Journal article

Government water dump down the gutter irks Visalia leaders – Visalia officials are livid over the release of 540,000 gallons of water into a street gutter last week by California Water Service and two governmental agencies. That’s enough water to flood a football field in about 2 feet of water, or supply an average family for at least two years.  Fresno Bee article

When will the taps run dry?  Groundwater discussion on Valley Edition – Parts of Central California have been hit especially hard by the drought, and specifically the dropping water table beneath the ground. But as California farms and cities lean more and more on their aquifers, many are concerned that more and more wells will go dry.  KVPR report

Water expert to talk about Stanislaus County groundwater Dec. 5 –  A just-completed computerized hydrologic model of Stanislaus County’s groundwater resources will be explained by its U.S. Geological Survey creator during a Dec. 5 presentation at Modesto Junior College.  Modesto Bee article

Governor appoints Allensworth woman to regional water board – Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday appointed Denise Kadara, 61, of Allensworth to the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board.  Fresno Bee article

‘The fruit doesn’t know what to do’ – When Geoffery Galloway sits down for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, the Terra Bella farmer said he’ll be most thankful for his family. “But also that we have a house to live in,” he said as she walked through his orange groves surrounding his home earlier this week. At first blush, the comment sounds like a joke. But considering the year he’s had, Galloway’s words are all too serious.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Top local chefs offer support for Sacramento urban farming ordinance — More than three dozen area chefs are calling on city and county political leaders to approve ordinances encouraging urban agriculture in Sacramento. Proposals sought recently by the Sacramento Urban Agriculture Coalition would update zoning and sales requirements for food grown in the city and county. Chefs are confident that passage of new ordinances would encourage small-scale urban farming.  Sacramento Bee article



Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno police granted $1.5 million to tackle gang violence — The Board of State and Community Corrections has granted the Fresno Police Department a conditional $1.5 million to reduce gang violence. The department will receive $500,000 over one year and $1 million for the next two years. The $1 million is contingent on state allocation of funds and grant compliance.  Fresno Bee article

High court to hear San Francisco appeal of ruling in police-shooting case — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to hear San Francisco’s appeal of a ruling allowing a mentally ill, knife-wielding woman to sue police for shooting her, a case that could set standards for police treatment of the disabled.  San Francisco Chronicle article



Dan Walters: Brown-UC clash isn’t over money — The money just symbolizes, however, a larger conflict that’s simmered, and occasionally boiled over, for decades. It’s the control of a world-class university system that’s constitutionally independent, but largely dependent on money from the state budget and whose governing board is composed of politicians, including the governor, and political appointees.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

San Francisco district, union agree to pay raise for teachers, assistants — After 11 months of negotiations, the San Francisco Unified School District and the United Educators of San Francisco have agreed on a tentative contract that would give teachers and teaching assistants a 12 percent raise over three years.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Debate aims to define universal preschool — As public support and awareness of the importance of preschool grows at the federal, state and local level, there is a debate in the early childhood education world over how to achieve “universal preschool” and what form it should take.  EdSource article

Worldwide reaction after video of incident between Edison teacher, student goes viral – An incident in which a physical education teacher at Edison High was caught on video apparently trying to drag a 13-year-old girl into the school’s pool has exploded into worldwide news, with media outlets as far away as England and Australia carrying the story and translating it languages ranging from Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese to Italian and Spanish.  Stockton Record article

Former superintendent joins Merced County Board of Education — Tom Bates is looking forward to joining the Merced County Board of Education. Bates ran unopposed for the Westside seat on the five-member board in the Nov. 4 general election. He will be seated Dec. 16 and will replace David March on the board.  Merced Sun-Star article



EPA expected to propose tougher ozone limits – After years of inaction, the Obama administration is expected to propose tougher limits on smog Wednesday, according to people with knowledge of the rule-making effort. The new rule would be a major victory for public health groups, but it is sure to further stoke the partisan clashes between the president and Republicans poised to take control of Congress. LA Times articleAP articleNew York Times article

Modesto Irrigation District board turns down electric rate increase — Electricity prices won’t go up for at least three months, and may remain stable throughout 2015, Modesto Irrigation District leaders decided Tuesday after a lengthy hearing focused largely on fairness.  Modesto Bee article

San Francisco supervisors give city’s power utility a big boost — The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to give the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission a right of first refusal on providing power to new developments in the city, which is in the midst of a building boom.  San Francisco Chronicle articleKQED report


Health/Human Services

Study:  Being overweight or obese led to 481,000 cancers in one year – Looking for ways to reduce your risk of cancer? Try losing weight. A new study estimates that 3.6% of cancers diagnosed around the world in 2012 could be traced to the excess weight of patients. That works out to 481,000 cases of cancer in adults who were at least 30 years old, according to the report in Lancet Oncology.  LA Times article

 LA County approves Laura’s Law to ensure mentally ill get treatment – Los Angeles County officials gave final approval Tuesday to a plan to implement court-ordered intensive outpatient treatment for people with serious mental illness. The Board of Supervisors approved a mental health services plan in July that includes implementing Laura’s Law, a state law adopted after a mental health patient launched a shooting rampage at a California clinic that killed 19-year-old employee Laura Wilcox and two others.  LA Times article

Brown bag school lunches have little nutrition – lots of dessert — What could be more wholesome for students than a bag lunch packed at home? A lunch from the school cafeteria. Researchers found that the typical lunch brought from home contained far fewer vegetables, fruit, meat (or meat alternatives) and whole grains than federal nutrition standards advised. They also included too much salt, soda and dessert.  LA Times article

Watchdog calls for tighter regulation on California foster care prescriber relationships with drug companies — Scrutiny of doctors who prescribe psychotropic drugs to California foster children intensified Monday, with growing calls for regulators to consider whether financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies may be driving the excessive use of medication.  San Jose Mercury News article

Google offers high-tech spoon that stays steady in shaky hands — Its latest medical venture is the Liftware spoon, which could make life easier for the millions of people who live with Parkinson’s disease or with essential tremor, a nervous system disorder that causes rhythmic shaking.  LA Times article

UC Merced Connect: NIH supports UC Merced professor’s work in inhibiting HIV infection — Biochemistry professor Patricia LiWang calls it a stroke of luck that she has become enmeshed in HIV research, but her developments are no accident. The National Institute for Health apparently agrees, awarding her more than $2.3 million over the next four years to continue working toward a new method of preventing HIV from infecting humans.  Merced Sun-Star article

Sacramento City Council approves advocates’ plan to expand homeless outreach, support – Homeless care advocates told the Sacramento City Council on Tuesday that they will expand their outreach and support efforts to assist the city’s chronic homeless and homeless veterans.  Sacramento Bee article

Shriners classroom helps kids be kids during hospital stay — In the classroom at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California, there are no desks. Students position themselves however they can – wheeling up to a table, adjusting a lap tray or watching from a mobile hospital bed. A papier-mache dinosaur commandeers the corner opposite the door.  Sacramento Bee article



Lawmakers target Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk fee — Two California lawmakers plan to introduce legislation to block a possible sidewalk toll on the Golden Gate Bridge. Assemblymen Phil Ting and Marc Levine said at a news conference Tuesday that a sidewalk toll would be the wrong message to send when officials are trying to cut greenhouse gas pollution and encourage people to walk and bike.  AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Japanese firm plans to build light-rail cars in LA after all – A month after threatening to avoid California when talks with organized labor groups derailed, a Japanese company said it would follow through with much-touted plans to open a light-rail manufacturing facility in Los Angeles County after all.  LA Times article


Other Areas 

Modesto makes city manager permanent – It’s now official: Jim Holgersson, who has served as Modesto’s interim city manager since May, has the permanent job.  Modesto Bee article

Kern County animal services director leaving for Nevada job – Kern County Animal Services Director Shyanne Schull is leaving Kern County to become director of Washoe County Regional Animal Services in Reno, Nev.  Bakersfield Californian article

Donation will finance memorial to veterans – San Joaquin County officials gave the green light Tuesday to a plan to build a memorial to veterans in Micke Grove Regional Park, anchored by a nearly 8-foot-tall bronze statue of a soldier atop a granite boulder.  Stockton Record article

Silicon Valley’s power over the free press:  Why it matters — A big shift happened in news and information over the past few years: The people who write news and information no longer control the distribution of it. Technology companies do. Specifically it’s Facebook and Twitter — the large social platforms created in Silicon Valley.  KQED report


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Chuck Hagel is gone, but ineffective Obama policies remain.

Merced Sun-Star – There will be more lessons from this sad event as federal investigators develop their findings and the community conducts its own reviews. Here’s hoping that as Ferguson absorbs them, it will be a teachable moment for the rest of us, too.

Modesto Bee – There will be more lessons from this sad event as federal investigators develop their findings and the community conducts its own reviews. Here’s hoping that as Ferguson absorbs them, it will be a teachable moment for the rest of us, too.

Sacramento Bee – There will be more lessons from this sad event as federal investigators develop their findings and the community conducts its own reviews. Here’s hoping that as Ferguson absorbs them, it will be a teachable moment for the rest of us, too; With his nomination of rising legal star Leondra R. Kruger to the California Supreme Court on Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown has made his boldest move yet to infuse the court with new blood and high-powered diversity.