November 29, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories 

Stanislaus County supervisors resist tea party pressure to oppose resettlement of Syrian refugees — Stanislaus County’s Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday became a forum for impassioned arguments for and against resettlement of Syrian refugees to the county, which has a history of support for people who fled conflicts and persecution in the Middle East and southeast Asia. Tea party members wanted county leaders to pressure California Gov. Jerry Brown to join 28 other governors that oppose President Barack Obama’s proposal to accept 10,000 refugees from Syria. But their effort failed. Modesto Bee article

Donors to state tax board candidates bypass contribution limits – Two days after California’s elected tax board gave SpaceX exemptions worth millions of dollars last year, the Hawthorne rocket company donated $7,500, at the request of board President Jerome Horton, to a nonprofit group founded by his wife. SpaceX made the donation as a sponsor of a public conference headlined by Horton as he was running for reelection. LA Times article

Gov. Brown 

Judge: Regulators should release Brown’s emails on nuclear shutdown — A San Francisco judge is urging the state Public Utilities Commission to stop “stonewalling” and release e-mails that could reveal a behind-the-scenes role for Gov. Jerry Brown in a multibillion-dollar deal with two utilities that shut down a Southern California nuclear power plant.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Donald Lyman: Recreational pot ballot measure would help protect children – The Sacramento resident and public health officer writes, “We can’t protect children from marijuana’s unique risks if we don’t first establish a transparent and tightly regulated system that tracks the product from seed to sale, out of public view and secure from kids.” Lyman op-ed in Sacramento Bee


As refugees draw worldwide scrutiny, a Bakersfield native tries to make difference — At an age when many college graduates are still struggling to find work in their chosen fields and move out on their own, Jessica Feghali, a 26-year-old with an infectious smile, is program director for the International Refugee Assistance Project’s Lebanon office, which she helped establish about 14 months ago. Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento County: Meet the Internet age – Finally, Sacramento County implements online campaign finance filing – sort of. Sacramento Bee editorial

Willie Brown: Donald Trump gets what he wants – a stage — The terrorist attacks in Paris, the growing threat of the Islamic State, the downing of a Russian fighter jet by the Turks — they’re giving Donald Trump a whole new stage for his presidential circus act. It’s a stage strangely suited to him, despite his misrepresentation of the facts. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

News Stories

Top Stories

Are cities setting the stage for another statewide minimum wage increase? — It’s stories like Flores’, of people who work full-time and still struggle to meet basic needs, that have fueled groups such as Fight for $15 and the movement to raise wages. California cities have heard their call. In the last three years, 14 of the 29 cities and counties nationwide that have voted to increase the minimum wage have been in California, according to UC Berkeley Labor Center. CALmatters article

Dan Walters: Workforce skills gap threatens — The aging of California’s baby-boom generation and changes in the state’s economic dynamics are creating a “workforce skills gap.” That’s the phrase used by the Public Policy Institute of California in one of its several reports on a looming shortage of workers with the education and/or skills that a post-industrial, technology-heavy economy requires. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Feds call Fresno, Madera ‘a shining example’ in homelessness battle; local agencies say it’s not that simple — Federal officials heaped praise this month on Fresno and Madera counties for drastically reducing the number of homeless people in each region, but local groups say the issue is far from resolved. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Auto sales in Fresno, Valley follow national upswing – For auto dealers locally and nationally, the good times are back with a vengeance as a growing number of buyers, buoyed by an improving economy, satisfy a hankering for a new set of wheels. Fresno Bee article

Fresno shoppers seek deals, and buy local, during Small Business Saturday — Sol Eufracio of Fresno set out for holiday shopping looking to support small businesses rather than brave crowds at big-box stores. Her goal fit perfectly with the theme of Small Business Saturday, the event after Thanksgiving that puts the emphasis on locally owned shops. Fresno Bee article 

Small Business Saturday in Hanford – After all the buildup and hoopla for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday crept quietly into Hanford’s Downtown district for a leisurely morning of local merchants showing off their wares and small town charm. Hanford Sentinel article 

Mad for Mod Shop: Indie craft fair returns to Modesto – Crowds bundled up and hit downtown Modesto’s J Street on Saturday evening to bask in the holiday shopping glow of the Mod Shop Indie Crafters Market. Modesto Bee article

David Mas Masumoto: Giving Tuesday bucks shopping frenzy — On the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, a day is set aside to pause from shopping and instead think of supporting others and helping our communities. This is a moment to give from the heart. Masumoto column in Fresno Bee

Future of Crisp walnut operation in doubt – What’s going on with Jim Crisp and Stratford-based Crisp California Walnuts? After a brilliant launch in 2010, the major Kings County employer has run into trouble. The number of growers signing onto lawsuits alleging that Crisp didn’t pay them for the 2014 crop is multiplying. Speculation is swirling, and Stratford residents — already economically distressed — are bracing for a possible shutdown of the business. Hanford Sentinel article 

Sacramento-area hotels now seeing big numbers after dismal times during recession – PKF’s latest monthly report on the Northern California hotel industry shows an average occupancy rate of 76.2 percent in the Sacramento area in September, with an average daily room rate of $113.64 and revenue per available room of $86.63. In September 2012, the occupancy rate among area hotels was 66.9 percent, with an average daily room rate of $92.70 and revenue per available room of $61.98. Sacramento Bee article 

Sam Dodge has San Francisco government’s hardest job: Fixing homelessness — We’ll give Sam Dodge this, he’s a brave, brave man. Directing the mayor’s Housing Opportunity, Partnerships and Engagement office (HOPE) sounds like a lovely job, but it may be the hardest one in City Hall. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Millennials have key role in shaping capital’s future – The city of Sacramento can portray two dramatically different images: One a boring and staid government town, slow to embrace change as political parties do battle over state issues. The other is one of a trendsetter for groundbreaking ideas that generate policies with global impact and a rapidly evolving downtown that is attracting the next generation of innovators and political entrepreneurs. Sacramento Bee article

Google, Facebook in race to build high-altitude aircraft – Tech giants Google and Facebook are dabbling in experimental aviation for the same reason they have invested in undersea cables and communications satellites: They hope to connect a larger portion of the world’s people to the wonders — and advertising — of the Internet. San Jose Mercury News article 

Gene Bigler: Empower our region through port – The former professor of international relations at University of the Pacific writes, “We need to re-establish Stockton as the Great Food Port of the California Delta, indeed of the entire Pacific Coast of the Americas. Many counties produce the food, but we uniquely anchor the Delta and host its great riverine port.” Bigler op-ed in Stockton Record

Dan Morain: Joe tries to show one man can make a difference – Say you’re a guy named Joe, who grew up in Orange County, got into Harvard and made so much money on Wall Street by the time you were 29 that you never had to work another day in your life. You’re not a billionaire, but that doesn’t matter. At 36, you have more money than you could possibly spend in a lifetime, enough to buy any earthly pleasure. Except that’s not what you want. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Fortune struck these new immigrants, but can they make it in California? — This is the family’s third week living in two cramped rooms at the American Inn & Suites, and their third week in America. Refugees from Syria who fled a comfortable life in the suburbs of Damascus, they’re trying to make sense of this strange first chapter of their new life. LA Times article

Fewer companies get in the spirit to throw holiday parties — The silly season is upon us — the holiday rush, the shopping hangover, the December calendar crowded with obligatory holiday parties overloaded with crudités, shrimp cocktail and bad wine. And so what once might have been viewed as a foreboding sign of corporate distress could sound pretty good this time of year: More companies are saying they just don’t do holiday parties anymore. LA Times article


Andrew Watkins: Delta’s fate deserves close look – The president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau writes, “The comment period for the governor’s twin tunnel project ended last month. From here, the administration is supposed to read all of the letters and address all of the substantive comments in a final environmental impact report.” Watkins op-ed in Stockton Record

Valley chilled by sub-freezing overnight temperatures, citrus growers brace for frost — Carlos Gutierrez grows citrus on 150 acres in Orosi, Lindsay and Porterville. He was prepared for the freezing temperatures, which typically start after Thanksgiving. Gutierrez and other citrus growers use wind machines to battle overnight frost. These 40-feet-tall machines blow warmer air down on the fruit, which helps keep any humidity from forming into damaging ice crystals. Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Boy’s murder conviction sharpens debate on whether juveniles are fit to waive rights — After a majority on the California Supreme Court declined last month to review Joseph’s case, two dissenting justices asked the Legislature to consider establishing new rules or guidelines for the interrogation of juveniles. Other courts also have tackled the question in recent rulings: At what age are juveniles cognitively and emotionally capable of understanding the consequences of their actions in the criminal justice system? LA Times article 

LA County Sheriff’s Department investigating reports that deputy sexually assaulted female inmates — The allegations were disturbing: A female inmate reported that a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy asked her to perform a sex act as he escorted her back to a cell in the downtown criminal courthouse. She complied, she said, because she was afraid the deputy might otherwise get her into trouble. LA Times article


Fran Pavley and Kevin McCarty: Provide financial incentives to alleviate teacher shortage – State Sen. Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) and Assemblymember McCarty (D-Sacramento) write, “We need to invest in the teaching profession and encourage young professionals to come into our classrooms. Schools can provide the newest books, the most cutting-edge technology and the best curriculum, but the most important tool in the classroom is the teacher.” Pavley/McCarty op-ed in Sacramento Bee


What happened to California regulators’ vows to make steam injections safer? –  On the morning of the day he died, David Taylor and his crew were looking for a “chimney” — a fissure in the earth where steam and oil periodically spurted into the air in an oil field west of Bakersfield. LA Times article 

Nuclear crossroad: California reactors face uncertain future — Six years ago, the company that owns California’s last operating nuclear power plant announced it would seek an extended lifespan for its aging reactors. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. envisioned Diablo Canyon as a linchpin in the state’s green energy future, with its low-carbon electricity illuminating homes to nearly midcentury. Now, with a much changed nuclear power landscape, the company is evaluating whether to meet a tangle of potentially costly state environmental requirements needed to obtain renewed operating licenses. If it doesn’t move forward, California’s nuclear power age will end. AP article

Research: Major faults near reactors linked to 2nd crack — The Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and earthquake faults have been uneasy neighbors for decades. Even before the twin reactors produced a single watt of electricity, the plant had to be retrofitted after a submerged fault was discovered 3 miles offshore during construction. AP article

Delta research center proposed — The Delta is one of the most closely studied river estuaries in the world. But the scientists who are studying it are dispersed across the region, in different offices and in different towns. The state and federal governments propose changing that by building a new research center and fish breeding facility that would eventually house 180 employees and cost a collective $130 million. Stockton Record article

Paris climate conference expected to bring historic deal on emissions — The international conference on climate change that opens here Monday is widely expected to produce a historic agreement among nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that scientists say cause global warming. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Common ADHD medications do indeed disturb children’s sleep — For a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, meeting the daily expectations of home and school life can be a struggle that extends to bedtime. The stimulant medications commonly used to treat ADHD can cause difficulty falling and staying asleep, a study finds. And that can make the next day that much harder. KQED report


A future of light rail, trains and driverless cars? — Congestion is a growing problem in Sacramento. What to do about it? This week, readers offer thoughts on how to keep the region’s residents from getting stuck in neutral. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Widespread cheating by instructors, cadets alleged at California’s fire training academy – Concerns about rampant cheating are laid out within 13 hours of audio recordings of witness interviews, leaked to The Sacramento Bee, that CHP investigators made during their probe. The recordings contain interviews with 11 people, a small number of the 163 interviewed. Those accounts, along with reports from two former cadets who came forward to speak about their own experiences, depict a culture in which test scores were routinely manipulated and exam answers widely circulated in an effort to graduate as many cadets as possible. Sacramento Bee article 

Lewis Griswold: Hanford remains vigilant after Islamic State ‘kill list’ posting — With the bloodshed in Paris still roiling the world, Hanford officials remain vigilant after the Islamic State terrorist group released a “kill list” that included Lemoore Naval Air Station personnel living in the city. Griswold in Fresno Bee 

Mailbox threats leave Stockton neighbors steaming — Mail thieves have hit Jeff Lee’s north Stockton neighborhood for the second time in less than two years, and that makes him mad. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California lawmakers can prove they support transparency.

Sacramento Bee – California lawmakers can prove they support transparency; Finally, Sacramento County implements online campaign finance filing – sort of.

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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