November 28, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

Gov. Jerry Brown marches California climate change agenda to Paris — When Gov. Jerry Brown lands in Paris next week for international talks on climate, he’ll be preaching the need for action — and not to solve a hypothetical or future problem but something immediate. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Fresno County Democrats rife with internal dissension — The Fresno County Democratic Central Committee is an organization in turmoil. Some members are leveling conflict-of-interest and mismanagement charges against party leadership. The committee’s financial picture has dimmed considerably as cash reserves have plummeted. Perhaps most serious, the former office manager is alleging age and gender discrimination and retaliation after she lost her job last month. Fresno Bee article
State budget 

Bill Whalen: We need better options for using California’s windfall — In a better world, we’d have better options for how to go about what do with a multibillion-dollar surplus. Here are three avenues. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee 

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Dave Jones grabbing up endorsements, money in early weeks of AG campaign — The election is three years away, but Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones’ campaign for attorney general already has amassed tens of thousands of dollars and locked up dozens of endorsements. Sacramento Bee article

News Stories

Top Stories

Bakersfield continues to feel oil industry’s pain, city manager says — The downturn in Kern County’s oil industry is affecting hotel stays and may continue to depress sales tax revenue, forcing cuts to city spending, City Manager Alan Tandy has warned. In his weekly memorandum to Mayor Harvey L. Hall and the Bakersfield City Council, Tandy did Wednesday as he has done several times this year: caution of the continued negative impact of oil prices, which hover around $40 a barrel and are expected by some to dip into the $30 range. Bakersfield Californian article

UC expansion plan is timely as college application deadline nears — Counselors, parents and students throughout the state report feeling more optimistic about admissions chances at UC. Next fall’s increase is just 10% above the current group of 50,000 California freshmen and transfers who started at a UC this year. Still, the boost is expected to have an effect on all nine UC undergraduate campuses. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy 

Fresno-area shoppers fill malls and more for Black Friday deals, Santa visits – Black Friday is in full swing in the central San Joaquin Valley, with shoppers filling stores throughout the region. Fresno Bee article

 Shop till you drop: Black Friday brings in heavy crowds to Rosedale’s Northwest Promenade — Just one day after Thanksgiving, holiday shoppers lined up before dawn throughout stores in Rosedale’s Northwest Promenade to eagerly to scout out Black Friday deals. Bakersfield Californian article 

Black Friday remains low-key in Merced — Merced shoppers of all ages braved the cold on Black Friday morning to find a relatively calm holiday shopping experience. Merced Sun-Star article

 Modesto shoppers report pretty smooth Black Friday – The Super Bowl of shopping had an early start again this year, but the game isn’t over yet. Early numbers weren’t out Friday on how many shoppers headed to stores on Thanksgiving, but it was expected that more than three times the number of people would venture out to shop on the day after the holiday, known as Black Friday. Modesto Bee article 

Contra Costa’s lowest-paid workers still looking for raise — After a year of giving raises to all stripes of county employees from probation officers to nurses, Contra Costa is still struggling to come to terms with its lowest-paid unionized workforce. Contra Costa is tied for last among Bay Area counties in wages for its more than 7,000 in-home care providers, who have been making $11.50 an hour for the past six years. San Jose Mercury News article

Some Silicon Valley tech workers are taking LSD to be more productive, creative – As Rolling Stone is reporting, some tech workers are utilizing a different sort of drug to tap into their creative flow: LSD. Users are consuming about ten micrograms of a normal dose size — called a microdose — which is an amount big enough “to feel a little bit of energy lift, a little bit of insight, but not so much that you are tripping,” according to Rick Doblin, founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies. San Francisco Chronicle article

Gary Wayne Walker: Baby boomers pepper Fresno with pharmacies, retirement villages – The Fresno resident and novelist writes, “Will an aging population mean increasing productivity and creativity from a rising number of those fortunate seniors who tend to blossom with age?” Walker op-ed in Fresno Bee 


El Nino could be a boom or blow to California vineyards — Across California’s wine regions, growers are hoping a tenuous cover crop and ample straw will keep their nutrient-rich topsoil in place through what may be the first very wet winter in more than four years. LA Times article 

Farm Beat: Merced joins other counties in ag income surge – The latest report, showing Merced County’s gross income in 2014, is notable in a few ways. For one thing, the county hit a record $4.43 billion, despite a drought that has been especially brutal to its farmers. And Merced barely kept its edge over Stanislaus County, which reported $4.4 billion, a difference of just 0.7 percent. Modesto Bee article

Biomass future a burning problem for farmers – Five of the 11 major biomass plants in the Valley have closed since 2012, squeezed out of the market by lower prices for other renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. A sixth biomass plant — the Valley’s largest, in Delano — is likely to close in December, according to regulators. Which begs the question: Where is all of that farm waste supposed to go now? Stockton Record article 

Fort Bragg restaurants serve on paper plates to conserve water – Today, and for the last six weeks, tables here are set with paper napkins and plastic forks. And $23 crab omelets are served on paper plates. KQED report

Project to drain largest Santa Clara County reservoir a year behind schedule — No matter how much it rains this winter, one of the Bay Area’s largest reservoirs won’t fill up. Seismic safety concerns are already restricting the amount of water that can be stored in Anderson Reservoir, and now the discovery of new “trace faults” near the dam have further stalled a $193 million project to strengthen it. San Jose Mercury News article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sacramento Bee: State, judges should rethink early release of some felons – Although the number of second-strike inmates being released is small, police and social workers already are grappling with tens of thousands of other people with criminal histories who remain in communities because of changes brought about by Brown and voter-approved initiatives. Sacramento Bee editorial

Fresno police arrest man after officer assaulted – A 24-year-old man was arrested Friday after an assault on a police officer in the midst of two chases through north Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Feds tell local police to prep for terrorism – The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security have issued an intelligence bulletin to local law enforcement agencies asking them to review protocols for terrorist-type incidents, according to reports published this week. Hanford Sentinel article

Oakland muralist’s death by law enforcement gun spurs talk about weapon security — The revelation this week that a federal immigration agent’s gun was used to kill Oakland muralist Antonio Ramos in September adds to a running tally of high-profile Bay Area cases from the past year where a law enforcement firearm was stolen from a vehicle. San Jose Mercury News article 


Steven E. Gomes: Students need both academic, career technical education – The superintendent of the Merced County Office of Education writes, “While it is imperative that students have these resources to compete in an ever-evolving job market, we must also ensure that they have career and technical skills to thrive in a vocation.” Gomes op-ed in Modesto Bee

Scott Kuykendall: Five reasons career technical education makes sense – The assistant superintendent of educational options for the Stanislaus County Office of Education writes, “While the occupations and skills may change, the need for excellent CTE programs has never been greater. Here’s why.” Kuykendall op-ed in Modesto Bee

Ag classes teach farm skills and much more — Atwater is a prime example of the career training that takes place in high school agriculture departments in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. This involves much more than raising crops and livestock. Students can learn metalwork, engine repair, electrical wiring, woodworking, flower arranging and much more. Each department has a chapter of Future Farmers of America, which trains students in public speaking and other leadership traits. Modesto Bee article

Major player in video game industry takes Riverbank teens under virtual wing — Three days spent working in the industry was a game-changer for Riverbank High teacher Jon Gianelli, and in his new coding class. Video games are changing how his students see their lives playing out. Modesto Bee article

Merced Mall puts marketing lessons to work — When senior Jessica Fregoso heads to Tilly’s in the Merced Mall, she will be scoping out the latest fashions not for how she would look in them, but for how the display works for customers. Modesto Bee article

Gregori High students dig into horticulture training — Between the math calculations and lecture note-taking, groups of Gregori High students take a break and get their hands dirty. Digging into loose, rich soil of raised garden beds, students of all abilities plant, thin and weed on the campus in the northern tip of Modesto. Modesto Bee article

Golden Valley students get a taste of culinary careers — At Golden Valley High in Merced, the culinary arts students cater events, run a gourmet coffee cart for teachers and work toward earning restaurant certifications. Modesto Bee article


Study: Fireplace rules helping public health – The San Joaquin Valley’s strict residential wood-burning rules are benefiting the region’s older residents, who tend to be more vulnerable to pollution, according to a new study. Researchers for the California Air Resources Board determined that no-burn days in the Valley led to a 12 percent reduction in the harmful tiny particles found in smoke after the rules were first approved in 2003. Stockton Record article

Harry Simpson: To fight climate change, EPA should prioritize climate change – The president of Crimson Renewable Energy LP writes, “In California, severe drought and raging wildfires are reminders of the realities of climate change and the urgent need for immediate, coordinated and effective action to protect our state and planet. This is why we, as a producer of clean-burning alternative diesel fuel here in the Central Valley, are very concerned about state and federal policies for promoting cleaner fuels – particularly a pending EPA rule that will help determine how much biodiesel and other renewable transportation fuels we use in the coming years.” Simpson op-ed in Modesto Bee

Health/Human Services 

Developmentally disabled people face losing access to services as closures hit – In the wake of The Great Recession, more than $1 billion in state budget cuts has threatened the system. In a grimly-titled report, On the Brink of Collapse, the Association of Regional Center Agencies (ARCA) said California “continues to lose ground” and noted that state has the lowest funding in the country for individuals with a developmental disability who qualify for services. KQED report

Data Tracker: Who still smokes in California? – The number of Californians who smoke has plummeted by roughly one million in the last decade, but smoking remains prevalent in many parts of the state, according to the latest figures from an annual UCLA health survey. Sacramento Bee article
Let’s Talk Health: Need to see a doctor? Get in line — A report recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that Americans spend an average of 121 minutes to see a physician. Only 20 of those minutes are actually spent with the doctor. Another 37 minutes are spent on travel time. The other hour and four minutes are spent in the waiting room. Let’s Talk Health in Merced Sun-Star

Construction nears on Selma hospital expansion — Construction is expected to begin next month on a $13.3 million renovation and expansion project at Adventist Medical Center-SelmaFresno Bee article


The Numbers Crunch: Caltrans says if you build new roads, traffic will come — What if Caltrans is questioning the whole logic of building more roads to relieve traffic congestion? You might think that after reading a policy paper that the department is linking to on its website. Constructing new roads and adding lanes doesn’t ease congestion for very long because traffic quickly increases to fill the new capacity, concludes the policy brief from the National Center for Sustainable Transportation.  The Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee

Other areas 

LA considers suspending trash pickup when heavy rainfall is forecast – When a sudden, powerful storm pummeled Boyle Heights in October, one poorly placed mattress wreaked havoc on the neighborhood. Los Angeles officials say the mattress was blocking a catch basin, which subsequently caused flooding that damaged a basement and several vehicles. The incident has sparked additional interest in the city’s El Niño preparation and has department heads mulling a new tactic to mitigate its effects. For the first time, they are considering suspending trash pickup. LA Times article

‘Million Trees’ theme sprouts on downtown Sacramento arena façade — As the metallic facade goes up, a subtle and whimsical City of Trees theme is beginning to emerge. The undulating arena walls are etched with 3-inch modernist leaf designs. The leaves, hundreds of thousands of them, will merge to create the illusion of billowing valley oak tree canopies on the arena’s exterior. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee – It’s now Black Friday every day of the week.

Maddy Events

Sunday, Nov. 29, at 5 p.m. on Fresno ABC30 – Maddy Report: Employment Conditions Post-Recession: Same As It Ever Was — 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.

Sunday, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m. on KMJ (580AM and 105.9FM Radio/podcast) – Maddy Report – Valley Views Edition: “Valley’s Future Workforce: Low Skill/Low Wage or High Skill/High Wage” – Guests: Carole Goldsmith, Ed.D, president of West Hills College Coalinga; Lee Ann Eager, president/CEO of the Economic Development Corporation Serving Fresno County; and Antonio Avalos, chair of the Fresno State Economics Department.  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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The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

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