November 29, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California fails to collect billions in court-ordered debt — California government is missing out on collecting billions of dollars in fines, victim restitution and other court-ordered debts, with current law offering conflicting fiscal incentives for the mix of agencies charged with getting the money, according to a recent report by the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal experts.  Sacramento Bee article

Gun victory: Fresno judge rejects delay to ending 10-day waiting period — Gun rights advocates intent on ending California’s 10-day firearm waiting period are hailing a decision by Fresno-based federal Judge Anthony W. Ishii that slaps down a delaying effort by state Attorney General Kamala Harris.  Fresno Bee article; AP article

Valley politics

Visalia voter district maps to be discussed — Visalia City Council members will see next week 13 suggested maps showing how they could divide the city into new voting districts.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Top-15 donors to California fall campaigns — Tens of millions of state campaign dollars changed hands in the run-up to California’s Nov. 4 election, with a select group of donors generating many of the contributions, based on a tally of late contribution filings with the secretary of state’s office. The second-largest donor was Table Mountain Rancheria, which operates a casino near Friant. The tribe was a big donor to the campaign to defeat Proposition 48, the referendum on a tribal compact that would allow a casino in nearby Madera.  Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee:  Prop 35 belongs in the scrap heap of flawed initiatives — California voters could not resist the chance to condemn human trafficking and sex offenders who prowl the Internet. Powerful though it was politically, the initiative is a prime example of why, with rare exceptions, criminal law should not be written by initiative promoters.  Sacramento Bee editorial


White House tested limits before acting on immigration – Months before President Obama took executive action last week to reshape the nation’s immigration system, Jeh C. Johnson, the secretary of Homeland Security, quietly convened a small group of advisers to explore the legal limits of the president’s powers.  New York Times article

Immigrants’ opportunities depend on states’ policies – States must make new decisions on how to respond to the president’s action that allows millions more immigrants to remain in the U.S.  AP article

Benjamin B. Wagner: We must deport dangerous criminals – The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California writes, “Even if counties determine they currently are unable to honor immigration holds, it is in the interest of all who protect public safety for local authorities to inform federal authorities when they identify deportable persons with criminal histories who pose a genuine threat to the community.”  Wagner op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Patterson, Vidak keep heat on cap-and-trade transportation fuel tax – Assembly Member Jim Patterson of Fresno and Sen. Andy Vidak of Hanford both announced that they’ll introduce the Affordable Gas for California Families Act on Monday. It would exempt transportation fuels including natural gas from the cap-and-trade program. It’s a last-gasp effort; transportation fuels are scheduled to be covered by the program beginning in January.  Fresno Bee article

Lawmaker proposes to revamp California recount rules – Assemblyman Kevin Mullin said Friday he will introduce another bill requiring automatic recounts in extremely close statewide races, citing the confusion and discord during last summer’s brief recount in the June primary for state controller.  Sacramento Bee article

Mark Leno won’t challenge Lee for San Francisco mayor – After weeks of examining San Francisco’s political landscape, State Sen. Mark Leno has decided not to run for mayor against incumbent Ed Lee. San Francisco Chronicle article

GOP congressional majority likely to change the way it crunches numbers – The incoming Republican majority in Congress is preparing to give number-crunching a controversial twist, and the new math could make it easier for the GOP to cut taxes.  LA Times article

LAPD arrests violated protestors’ rights, coalition says – A coalition of activists and attorneys are accusing the LAPD of violating the constitutional rights of dozens of demonstrators who were arrested in downtown Los Angeles this week while protesting a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the slaying of an unarmed black teenager.  LA Times article

San Francisco protest turns ugly at Union Square — A march for racial justice Friday night turned ugly as hundreds of protesters converged on Union Square and frightened crowds of shoppers by smashing windows and attacking police.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Brik McDill: The good, the bad, and the ugly of Ferguson — Ferguson, Mo., is a microcosm of the worldwide community of man. The theater of occurrences displayed the night of Nov. 24 was a study of human nature with all the good, the bad, and the ugly.  McDill column in Bakersfield Californian

News Briefs

Top Stories

More narcotics are coming into California jails – A 2011 California law that sends lower-level felons to county lock-ups to serve their time instead of state prison has caused a spike in narcotics smuggling in county jails, sheriff’s officials say.  AP article

U.S. proposes new guidelines on teacher education programs –  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Tuesday announced new guidelines to improve the preparation of the nation’s teaching ranks that will require states to rate the performance of training programs and shift federal funding to those that receive high marks.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

San Joaquin County budget: More money coming in, spending down — A new report kicking the tires of this year’s San Joaquin County budget found the government agency is on track to spend a little less than expected while bringing in a little more tax revenue than anticipated, according to a report on the first quarter of the fiscal year that began July 1.  Stockton Record article

Black Friday? Fresno shoppers say Thanksgiving sales stole the show – and holiday – With stores opening earlier than ever this year — a slew of deals luring shoppers out of their homes on Thanksgiving — Cortez and Moreno weren’t the only holiday shoppers seized by feelings of guilt. While shopping for a television at Best Buy in the River Park shopping center in north Fresno, Shane Flores, 21, of Caruthers joked that next year, Black Friday might start on Wednesday.  Fresno Bee article

Black Friday in Merced started early on Thanksgiving – Black Friday in Merced may have been a little upstaged by “Brown Thursday,” a term coined to refer to retailers opening their doors on Thanksgiving to get a head start on sales.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton stores a blur on Black Friday – While many retailers launched their Black Friday sales promotions on Thanksgiving day, shoppers still came out in droves to area shopping centers.  Stockton Record article

Fresno Bee: Shopping on Small Business Saturday helps our community – We can be smart about how and where we shop. So as we’re buying gifts for friends and family, we can help our hometowns a little along the way. Remember that as you put together your holiday gift list.  Fresno Bee editorial

Small businesses get Saturday shopping boost – After Black Friday’s frenzy, before Cyber Monday’s pajama-clad perusing, comes Small Business Saturday, asking shoppers to share a bit of the holiday pie with local retailers.  Modesto Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Move cautiously on raising minimum wage – In recent years, City Hall has done quite a bit to streamline permits and try to shake a reputation of being unfriendly to business. The last thing it should want is to set back those efforts with a heavy-handed minimum wage.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Dana Zupanovich Lucka: Start a tradition: Make Tuesday your Giving Day – The Director of Development for the College of Health and Human Services at Fresno State writes, “This year, consider your motivations and not the new, bigger, better or shinier thing. After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consider celebrating the very uncommercial Giving Tuesday on Dec. 2 and start a new family tradition of helping others.”  Lucka op-ed in Fresno Bee

Southland would quickly feel economic effects of port shutdown — In the Southland, the financial pain would be immediate for many of the nearly 700,000 people who base their livelihoods on the goods-movement industry — dockworkers, truck drivers, warehouse workers and importers, among others.  LA Times article

Oil plunge is threat and boon to global economies – A renewed plunge in oil prices is a worrying sign of weakness in the global economy that could shake governments dependent on oil revenues. Yet it is also a bonus for consumers as prices fall at the pump, giving individuals more spending money and lowering costs for many businesses. AP article

Atwater boutique grows into mini-empire – Among other items, Dover sells high-end jeans that cost up to $250 per pair – for men as well as women. And her store opened in the Central Valley, among the hardest hit regions of the country when the Great Recession took hold that year. So, obviously, Dover’s idea was doomed to fail, right? Nope.  Merced Sun-Star article

Ad blitz in transit hubs designed to break homeless stereotypes — Think Bart and Muni stations already have enough homeless people inside them? Starting Monday, there will be even more. A new ad campaign produced by the Coalition on Homelessness will go up in public transportation hubs and on Muni buses with the intention of breaking stereotypes about homeless people.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Oakdale beer enthusiasts seek approval to open microbrewery – Josh Garcia and Brian Chiara enjoy brewing beer at home for fun, but now they want to turn pro by launching their own Oakdale microbrewery. They propose opening Last Call Brewing Company in January in an industrial area at 944 Shepard Court. Whether the city should permit such a brewery will be considered at Wednesday’s Oakdale Planning Commission meeting.  Modesto Bee article

Francine Farber: Everyone deserves a chance at a better life – The Fresno resident and full-time community volunteer writes, “David’s success story gives pause to consider children who may come from disadvantaged homes, who may have a disability, or who may come to us speaking another language. Every one of them deserves our high expectations and the chance to make a successful life to the best of his or her ability. Parents and teachers have to ensure that all children get the opportunities they deserve.”  Farber op-ed in Fresno Bee


Isabella Lake level getting ugly – The lake, which at capacity holds 568,000 acre-feet of water, is down below 45,000 acre feet, or just 8 percent of capacity — and the level continues to creep lower. One acre-foot is enough to supply the needs of two average households for a year.  Bakersfield Californian article

Great thirst for well permits before cutoff date – The rush to turn in well permit applications in Stanislaus County continued right up until Tuesday’s start date for a more stringent review policy. The county Department of Environmental Resources said it received 61 well permit applications in the final three business days before Tuesday, including 17 on Nov. 20; 21 on Nov. 21; and 23 on Monday.  Modesto Bee article

Michael Hiltzik: Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s drought relief bill needs closer scrutiny —  Addressing the drought is complicated, technical and politically charged. Billions of dollars in business investments are at stake, so millions are available to push legislators in one direction or another — especially if the key discussions are held behind closed doors. That’s why it’s probably a good thing that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) last week abandoned her effort to craft a drought relief bill in haste and through private conversations with Central Valley Republican members of Congress and lobbyists for well-heeled water users. Hiltzik in LA Times

Farm Beat:  Gallo tackles hunger via Super Bowl event — Once again, E.&J. Gallo Winery will bring the wine to a gala event the night before the Super Bowl. And once again, it will help raise money to fight hunger in America.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

DA Morse, Merced sheriff’s detectives at odds over timecards — Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse II may place the detective who arrested his son earlier this year on a list of law enforcement investigators whose credibility can be questioned in court, the Merced Sun-Star has learned.  Merced Sun-Star article


Here and elsewhere, Hispanics a disproportionate minority on school boards – As a Hispanic trustee, Rojas — who ran unopposed to fill the seat vacated by veteran trustee Cheryl Palla — will join a faction that earlier this year included just 712 members in California, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. That’s less than 15 percent of the 4,994 California school board members on county and district boards, a fact local education leaders said they want to see change. Bakersfield Californian article

Michele Siquieros: UC need to revamp student transfer rules – The president of the Campaign for College Opportunity writes, “There are 110,000 routes that students can take from community colleges to UC campuses. It can be a daunting journey through the maze of conflicting requirements, rules and policies that differ among each UC and community college and among each major. That may be the reason why so few transfer students took a seat in a UC classroom this semester.”  Siquieros op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Fresno State professor receives national recognition for work in sociology — Jennifer Randles of the sociology department at Fresno State has received two national awards from the American Sociological Association. A Community Action Research Initiative grant from the Sydney S. Spivack Program in Applied Social Research and Social Policy supports Randle’s research on positive paternal involvement among low-income fathers in Fresno.  Fresno Bee article

Kaye Bonner Cummings: Art, a necessity, not a luxury — This is what we know about why art education matters: First, being a hands-on activity, the arts increase student engagement, focus on positive achievements and keep kids in school.  Cummings op-ed in Fresno Bee

Pro-Israel posters vandalized at Delta College – Police at San Joaquin Delta College are investigating the vandalism of a dozen posters that had been put up by a new pro-Israel student club on campus.  Stockton Record article


Election win puts rural San Benito County on anti-fracking map – After a stunning election victory, residents of this farming region find themselves on the sharp edge of a growing movement to ban hydraulic fracturing via local voter initiatives.  LA Times article

After eight months, Arvin gas leak testing process moves forward – After eight months of delay, state and county agencies are inching closer to confirming that the homes of eight Arvin families are free of toxic gases and safe to live in.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno City Hall Oks another addition to trails network — Fresno City Hall is discovering that persistence counts in the building of trails as well as the use of them. The City Council has approved a pedestrian/cycling trail on Copper Avenue in northeast Fresno.  Fresno Bee article

Crews race to mulch forest slopes laid bare by King fire — Contractors working for the U.S. Forest Service are racing against Mother Nature to spread straw mulch over 1,200 acres of fire-scorched mountainside exposed by the King fire.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

After years of red ink, San Joaquin General Hospital in the black — San Joaquin General Hospital has had its financial problems, but budget projections show that the facility is set to end the current fiscal year securely in the black.  Stockton Record article


Airport bus service wrestles with state over permitting requirement – In the latest struggle to keep the buses rolling in recent years, state regulators have threatened to shut down the privately owned and operated service because of a permitting disagreement. The California Public Utilities Commission recently informed the owner of Airport Valet Express, Phil Rudnick, that his company appears to be acting illegally.   Bakersfield Californian article

Port to rebuild Navy Drive rail underpass – Stockton port officials will consider spending nearly $8 million to improve the railroad undercrossing on Navy Drive during the agency’s commission meeting Monday afternoon.  Stockton Record article

Hit-and-runs taking a toll on cyclists — Hit-and-run collisions involving bicyclists surged 42% from 2002 to 2012 in Los Angeles County, according to a Times analysis of California Highway Patrol crash data.  LA Times article

Other Areas

No more shooting injured animals; how is new policy working for Merced police? – On the anniversary of that policy change, the chief of police reflected on its success in the community, but also recalled a dark time for the agency when a Merced Sun-Star article about the policy went viral.  Merced Sun-Star article

Return of the Visalia Criterium —  Do you hear that noise? It’s a buzz coming from both local and statewide cycling circles. The Sequoia Cycling Classic is making a comeback, and it’s already generating noticeable excitement. Visalia Times-Delta article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Shopping on Small Business Saturday helps our community; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – Proposition 35 belongs in the scrap heap of flawed initiatives.

Modesto Bee – Our Views: This season, shop smart, give to others; Proposition 35 belongs in the scrap heap of flawed initiatives.

Sacramento Bee – In recent years, City Hall has done quite a bit to streamline permits and try to shake a reputation of being unfriendly to business. The last thing it should want is to set back those efforts with a heavy-handed minimum wage; Proposition 35 belongs in the scrap heap of flawed initiatives.