November 27, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California lawmaker proposes office to immigrants seeking relief under Obama’s plan – When the new Legislature is sworn in on Monday, Sen. Ricardo Lara says he plans to introduce legislation that would create an Office of New Americans to help undocumented immigrants by connecting them to legal services, English classes and help applying for relief under the executive actions announced last week by President Barack Obama.  Capitol Alert

Attorney general appeals decision loosening concealed weapons rules – The California attorney general Wednesday asked a full federal appeals court to review a controversial gun case in hopes the court will overturn a ruling by a three-judge panel that would make it easier for someone to legally carry a concealed weapon in public.  LA Times article


Gov. Brown

Hot dog! At least one Jerry Brown inaugural event planned — When asked about the Democratic governor’s plans for a historic fourth inauguration, spokesman Evan Westrup would say only “stay tuned.” But one feature will be the same. The Orange County Employees Association said it will once again host a picnic on the Capitol’s north lawn. Capitol Alert

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Marijuana legalization backers anxious as costs mount, donors waver — The rapidly expanding legal pot industry has started to make some people rich, but the new pot capitalists are stingy about keeping the momentum for legalization building, Nadelmann said.  LA Times article


Immigration applicants in San Joaquin County warned of scams and opportunists — As millions of immigrants across the country seek federal protection from deportation, community advocates in Stanislaus County and the state attorney general are warning residents to be wary of scammers and opportunists looking for a big payday.  Modesto Bee article

Congress can block use of fees for immigration overhaul: memo — Congress can block President Barack Obama from using federal immigration fees to issue permits for millions of undocumented immigrants to stay and work in the United States, according to a congressional research memo released on Wednesday.  Reuters article

Some in US illegally could get retirement benefits — Many immigrants in the United States illegally who apply for work permits under President Barack Obama’s new executive actions would be eligible for Social Security and Medicare benefits upon reaching retirement age, according to the White House.  AP article

Other areas

LA voters won’t be offered cash prizes in March city election – A controversial proposal to offer cash prizes to Los Angeles voters is dead — at least for next year’s city elections.  LA Times article

Oakland sees violent protests for third straight night — Police in Oakland took more aggressive tactics against unruly protesters Wednesday, the third night of violence in the East Bay city, but were unable to prevent another round of damage to businesses and other private property.  San Francisco Chronicle article

More than 300 arrested in three days of Ferguson protests in LA — The Los Angeles Police Department has made more than 300 arrests in the last three days after a series of protests over a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown.  LA Times article

New sergeant-at-arms chief started at California Senate in 1970s — When Debbie Manning makes a request, California’s most powerful politicians usually obey. As a sergeant-at-arms for the California Senate for three decades, Manning has often been sent to round up tardy lawmakers from their Capitol offices and escort them to the floor so a quorum could be achieved.  LA Times article


News Briefs

Top Stories

Stockton, bond firm renew fight over city’s bankruptcy appeal – Bankrupt Stockton and its holdout creditor are fighting in court again, this time over the creditor’s plea to have the city’s debt-repayment plan put on hold while an appeal runs its course.  Sacramento Bee article;

New air standard forces more Valley cleanup — Federal leaders moved Wednesday toward a stricter threshold for summertime air pollution, dramatically pushing the cleanup in the country’s two worst air basins — the San Joaquin Valley and the South Coast Air Basin in Southern California.  Fresno Bee article

Prop 47 floods courts with pleas for resentencing and records purges — Proposition 47, a sweeping ballot measure that reduced penalties for certain crimes, has already led to the release of hundreds of jail and prison inmates statewide and inundated courts with scores of applications from people who want their records cleansed of felonies.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Jerry Brown and CalPERS on course for another pension-law collision – Don’t be surprised next year if Gov. Jerry Brown re-enters the political boxing ring for another around with CalPERS over what kinds of pay can count toward a government retiree’s pension calculations. And don’t be surprised if he loses again.  Sacramento Bee article

Mayor: Sacramento should explore increase in minimum wage — Sacramento is entering the national minimum wage debate. Mayor Kevin Johnson and other city leaders this week said they want to explore raising the minimum wage in the city, setting up what likely will be a defining political discussion in Sacramento in 2015. Following Tuesday night’s City Council meeting, Johnson said he would convene a task force after the first of the year to look into raising the rate above the statewide minimum of $9 an hour.  Sacramento Bee article

Hormel to shutter Stockton chili, beef stew cannery – Hormel Foods Corp., in reporting strong quarterly results but falling profits for its canned food lines, announced Tuesday that it would close its Stockton processing plant by the end of February, ending about 65 years of producing canned meats in San Joaquin County.  Stockton Record article

Lackluster consumer income and spending point to a slowing economy — The economy just posted its best six-month stretch in 11 years, the labor market is on a record streak of job creation and gas prices are falling. But consumers — a key driver of U.S. economic growth — have not yet fully joined the party.  LA Times article

Hanford council acts to save Costco project — Amid controversy over its recent decision to allow Helena Chemical Co. to expand its east Hanford facility, the Hanford City Council reached an agreement Tuesday to begin relocating the agricultural fertilizer retailer to the city’s industrial park.  Hanford Sentinel article

Fresno foreclosure rates continue to fall – CoreLogic, a Santa Ana-based real estate tracking firm, reports this week that Fresno County’s foreclosure rate, which measures the percentage of loans in some stage of foreclosure, continues to fall.  Fresno Bee article

Black Friday shoppers camping out for bargains – Shoppers start lining up earlier and earlier for Black Friday each year, hoping to nab some killer deals – especially on big-ticket items like electronics. In Merced, several giant retailers had customers already lined up in front of their stores by early Wednesday afternoon, waiting more than 24 hours until doors open this evening.  Merced Sun-Star article

Sacramento corridor sees continued renaissance with purchase of vacant building — The R Street corridor took another big step this week toward becoming one of the most vibrant commercial districts in Sacramento. A prominent Sacramento developer purchased a mostly vacant R Street property that houses the New Helvetia Theatre and is looking at potential uses for the empty spaces.  Sacramento Bee article

Data Tracker: 10 ways Sacramento is getting better — We’re coming out of a recession, and many are still struggling, but a lot is going well in Sacramento, too. This chart shows ten indicators — some serious, some silly — that Sacramento is becoming an even better place to live.  Sacramento Bee article

LA Mayor hikes pay for 9 city managers; others asked to go without for 3 years — Nine Los Angeles city managers are getting raises of 3% or 5% from Mayor Eric Garcetti at the same time negotiators are trying to forestall salary increases for a wide range of other city workers.  LA Times article

Life-science startups find new life in used equipment — Highly precise, specialized lab equipment is crucial for sequencing DNA or sorting cells. But when the tools are pricey and the budget is thin, entrepreneurs have creative ways of finding what they need, from scouring eBay and Craigslist to swooping up the possessions of failed startups.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Palo Alto tops San Francisco for the country’s highest median rents — Palo Alto has the highest median rent in the country, according to a new quarterly report from listing service Lovely. The $3,645 median monthly rent (for all unit sizes) topped second-place San Francisco ($3,488) and third-place Cupertino ($3,136), and was over $800 more than fifth-place New York City ($2,800) in the third quarter of 2014.  San Francisco Chronicle article




Peace amid the water wars: San Joaquin County, East Bay MUD reach deal — Here’s something to be thankful for today: A landmark peace treaty in one of this region’s most enduring water wars. San Joaquin County and the East Bay Municipal Utility District are the primary players behind a deal announced late Tuesday.  Stockton Record article

Hot showers a blessing for Valley town suffering from drought — Drought conditions in parts of California are now so harsh that it has become normal to turn on the tap and have no water coming out. In the small San Joaquin Valley town of East Porterville, more than 600 household wells went dry this summer, leaving more than half the population without water.  KQED report

Battle on to fund $330,000 Armona water project — Armona’s low-income residents thought they had nailed down a $330,000 community development block grant to ease pressure on the town’s wastewater plant and provide additional water for other uses. Now, they’re not so sure.  Hanford Sentinel article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Suspect in Chukchansi raid turns himself in — Another suspect in the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino gaming office raid on Oct. 9 turned himself into Madera County authorities late Wednesday afternoon, said Erica Stuart, spokeswoman for the Madera County Sheriff’s Office.  Fresno Bee article

White calls town-hall meeting to discuss policing – Former City Councilman Ralph Lee White said Wednesday afternoon he will host a town-hall meeting next week focusing on issues surrounding law enforcement in Stockton.  Stockton Record article


Punk rocker tamps down rebellious streak on way to being civil servant — As a teenager, Duby Guerra sang about “hating” the police. Now, he helps train them. Guerra was 15 when he and his neophyte Stockton punk-rock pals “wrote songs about not being a cop. Now, I’m a cop.” He’s still a punk-rocker, too. As a 43-year-old single father of two — and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation sergeant — there’s a lot less emphasis on the rebelliousness bit.  Stockton Record article



Studies show when parents read, students succeed – Researchers and educators say students’ success in school has for years correlated strongly with parent involvement. Twenty-six percent of children read to three or four times a week by a family member recognized all letters of the alphabet, according to 2009 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Comparatively, just 14 percent of children read to less frequently recognized all alphabet letters.  Bakersfield Californian article

San Diego State fraternities suspend social events after bad behavior — Greek organizations at San Diego State University will suspend social events after some fraternity members allegedly acted in an “inappropriate and disrespectful manner” toward participants during a recent anti-sexual-assault march.  LA Times article

LA Unified adopts free history curriculum from Stanford University — The students became sleuthing historians in search of truth rather than passive recipients of a droning lecture. That’s the aim of a free, online Stanford University curriculum that is picking up steam nationally as educators grapple with widespread evidence of historical illiteracy among U.S. students.  LA Times article

Corcoran schools chief joins tech summit — Corcoran Unified School District was recognized for its technology efforts last week. Superintendent Rich Merlo was chosen as one of 100 school leaders to participate in the first National Connected Superintendents Summit in Washington, D.C.  Hanford Sentinel article



EPA’s proposed ozone limit faces political, cost hurdles – The Obama administration’s long-awaited announcement Wednesday that it wants to toughen limits on smog-forming ozone immediately generated questions about whether the plan can survive the current political climate and how much its cost will factor in reaching the goal.  LA Times article; KQED report

Power rates in Turlock might rise a little — Electricity customers in the Turlock Irrigation District face a possible rate increase that is not as large as first discussed. The district staff in September had proposed a 5 percent increase for 2015.  Modesto Bee article

Earthquakes in states other than California more common assumed — Quakes outside California in the Lower 48 are more common than many people probably assume, and in recent years there have been lots of shaking in states better known for blizzards and tornadoes than temblors.  LA Times article

Tons of trash collected from marijuana sites in Sierra, Sequoia national forests — Approximately 3.5 tons of garbage was removed from Sierra and Sequoia national forests during November in a clean-up effort of areas that were formerly used to illegally grow marijuana, the U.S. Forest Service said.  Fresno Bee article

Obama builds environmental legacy with 1970s law —  President Obama could leave office with the most aggressive, far-reaching environmental legacy of any occupant of the White House. Yet it is very possible that not a single major environmental law will have passed during his two terms in Washington.  New York Times article


Health/Human Services

Many agents still waiting to be paid for Covered California enrollments — California’s health exchange is leaning on insurance agents to enroll thousands of people in Obamacare coverage. Trouble is, some agents haven’t been paid for months.  LA Times article

U.S. adult smoking rate dips under 18 percent – A government report says the smoking rate for U.S. adults dipped below 18 percent for the first time last year.

That’s still about the same rate found in 2012, and translates to about 42 million smokers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the findings Wednesday. Smoking was more common in certain groups, like the poor, less educated, and gays and bisexuals.  AP article

San Joaquin Valley Veterans looking for vets who need home A housing program is looking for Valley veterans who need a home and supportive services such as help with electric bills and rent.  Fresno Bee article

Kaiser names top exec over health facilities in Central Valley region — Deborah “Deb” Friberg has been given the permanent job of overseeing hospitals and clinics in Kaiser Permanente’s Central Valley region.  Modesto Bee article

Ceres kids send a winning breast cancer message from the heart — A beautiful candlelit image of Whitmore Charter School students forming a heart captured the hearts of Ceres firefighters, who awarded the school first place in its annual photo contest to promote breast cancer awareness.  Modesto Bee article



Caltrans awards nearly $3 million for Fresno, Madera transportation projects – Caltrans has awarded nearly $3 million to Fresno and Madera counties for work on transportation projects to improve public transit and air quality.  Fresno Bee article

Airlines vie for elite L.A.-to-New York fliers with new luxury amenities — Los Angeles International Airport has become a battleground for airlines trying to draw well-heeled business executives and Hollywood celebrities flying coast to coast. The weapons in the fight for the transcontinental VIP are luxuries like down pillows, in-flight espresso machines, chauffeur-driven Cadillacs and meals cooked up by celebrity chefs.  LA Times article


Other Areas

Modesto Bee: Modesto Irrigation District, Stanislaus supervisors are moving in the right direction – Two actions taken Tuesday – one by the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors and one by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors – show that our elected officials are not only listening, they are responding.  Modesto Bee editorial

Thankfulness in the eyes of public officials – The 2014 campaign season ended and — win or lose — elected officials, candidates and voters are grateful for that. This week, some of those who ran took a moment to reflect on being thankful.  Bakersfield Californian article

Jeff Jardine: Many say ‘thanks’ this Thanksgiving Day — Last week, The Bee posted this question on our Facebook page: “What are you thankful for this year?” The posting drew more than 200 responses.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Mike Klocke: Multiple helpings of gratitude this Thanksgiving – Giving thanks for all of this and more — every day of the year, not just today.  Klocke column in Stockton Record

Phil Cox named Man of the Year – Phil Cox, Tulare County Supervisor representing District 3, was the Tulare Kings Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s pick for Man of the Year at the organization’s annual banquet on Thursday.  Visalia Times-Delta article

New trampoline park bounces back after delayed start — A new Bakersfield trampoline park bounced back Wednesday afternoon after being forced to spend the morning turning hundreds of potential customers away on opening day.  Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – There’s power in counting those kinds of blessings, and not just on the last Thursday in November. Let’s make the mother of all virtues into the mother of all habits. This and every week, thank someone.

Merced Sun-Star – Thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale, the mother of Thanksgiving. 

Modesto Bee –  Two actions taken Tuesday – one by the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors and one by the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors – show that our elected officials are not only listening, they are responding; Thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale, the mother of Thanksgiving.


Sacramento Bee – There’s power in counting those kinds of blessings, and not just on the last Thursday in November. Let’s make the mother of all virtues into the mother of all habits. This and every week, thank someone; Thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale, the mother of Thanksgiving.