November 5, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Valadao wins second term; Tacherra holds surprising lead over Costa – Hanford Republican David Valadao won a second term in Congress on Tuesday night, getting a concession before 11 p.m. from his challenger, Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria. While that race wasn’t as tight as some might’ve expected, Burrel dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra was making the run of his life.  Fresno Bee articleBakersfield Californian articleMerced Sun-Star articleKVPR report

It’s history: Voters give Gov. Brown a fourth term; Swearengin trailing in state controller’s race – This election is history — and it surely made history: What may be the lowest voter turnout for a mid-term general election in state history, and a record fourth term for Gov. Jerry Brown, who in early returns was easily sweeping aside his Republican challenger Neel Kashkari. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican making her first try for statewide office, was trailing Democrat Betty Yee for state controller.  Fresno Bee article

SD14: Vidak outdueling Chavez in hotly contested race – In one of the most hotly contested and closely watched state legislative races in California, incumbent Hanford Republican Andy Vidak held an early 10-percentage-point lead Tuesday night over Fresno Democrat Luis Chavez in the 14th state Senate District.  Fresno Bee article;Bakersfield Californian article

California water bond wins passage – California’s aging water infrastructure and collection of ecosystems will receive a $7.5 billion injection of taxpayer dollars, as voters on Tuesday approved a sizable bond that had become a priority for lawmakers and the governor.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleAP article

No Senate supermajority for California Democrats, Assembly margin still in doubt – Two years after California Democrats swept to commanding two-thirds majorities in both houses of the state Legislature, they were unable to again the claim the same margin in the Senate and the Assembly remained in doubt with key races too close to call.  Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown’s fourth term still fuzzy – Jerry Brown, a political wunderkind who morphed into California’s crusty elder statesman, entered the record books Tuesday by handily winning a fourth term as governor. However, whether he also carves out a prominent place in the history books to match his father’s top-tier status remains uncertain.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Denham, other House incumbents hold firm leads in early returns – Despite widespread dissatisfaction with Congress, regional races tilted toward the incumbents in early returns. Political novice Michael Eggman ran a hard race against Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, but the veteran politician held a steady lead in early returns. District 9 Rep. Jerry McNerney, a Democrat, held a slim edge over his Republican challenger, Tony Amador.  Modesto Bee articleStockton Record article‘Denham: Now the real work starts’ in Stockton Record

SD12: Cannella leads Bagley – State Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, held a commanding lead Tuesday night over a Democratic challenger in his bid for a second and final term in the California Senate.  Modesto Bee article

AD21: Gray retains seat – Despite an injection of Republican cash down the home stretch in the 21st Assembly District race, incumbent Adam Gray, D-Merced, looks to have kept his seat.  Merced Sun-Star article

AD26: Mathis takes lead over Mendoza – Republican Devon Mathis of Visalia was ahead in early returns over Republican Rudy Mendoza in the race for the 26th Assembly District, a seat now held by termed-out Republican Assembly Member Connie Conway of Tulare.  Fresno Bee article

AD32: Salas beats Rios again – The 32nd Assembly District rematch between Democrat Rudy Salas and Republican Pedro Rios played out in familiar fashion. The Democrats held onto Kern County’s westside district Tuesday, as the incumbent Salas defeated Rios, a Republican businessman from Delano who lost to Salas for the same seat in 2012. Bakersfield Californian article

Two Assembly incumbents hold strong leads, while third in closer race – Republican Kristin Olsen of Riverbank was easily defeating a challenger Tuesday in the race for her 12th Assembly District seat, while Democrat Adam Gray of Merced faced a tougher contest to keep his 21st Assembly District seat. Republican incumbent Frank Bigelow was besting a Libertarian Party challenger in the 5th Assembly District.  Modesto Bee article

Eggman, Olsen re-elected; Cooper replaces Pan – Three districts cover San Joaquin County in the state Assembly, and voters Tuesday overwhelmingly returned the two incumbents among the three races. Lodi residents, at the southern tip of the 9th District, had to decide between two Democrats vying for an open seat.  Stockton Record article

Merced voters approve Measure T – Voters appeared to be on their way to approving the measure to carve Merced into districts for local elections with 52 percent marking “yes” on their ballots.  Merced Sun-Star article

Mendes, Pacheco winning big in early returns for Fresno County supervisor – Buddy Mendes and Brian Pacheco were leading as election returns rolled in Tuesday night in the races to fill two seats on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.  Fresno Bee article

Winn holds apparently victory over Munson in San Joaquin County supervisor race – Chuck Winn had an apparent victory over Russ Munson in the second contest at the polls between the two remaining candidates for the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors.  Stockton Record article

Atwater’s McDaniel wins District 3 race for Merced County supervisor – Atwater businessman Daron McDaniel won a spot on the Merced County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night, defeating Merced City Councilman Tony Dossetti in the District 3 race.  Merced Sun-Star article

Warnke prevails in Merced sheriff’s race – With more than 84 percent of precincts reporting Tuesday night in the race for Merced County sheriff, retired Sgt. Vern Warnke held a strong lead over Merced District Attorney Investigations Chief Pat Lunney.  Merced Sun-Star article

Lifquist wins contentious Kern assessor’s race – The insider won. Jon Lifquist, a chief appraiser in the Kern County Assessor-Recorder’s office, took a commanding lead from the start Tuesday in the race to replace his boss, Jim Fitch, in the assessor-recorder’s seat.  Bakersfield Californian article

Catalano, Soria race too close to call in Fresno council District 1 race – Businessman Cary Catalano had a 13-vote lead over lawyer Esmeralda Soria on Tuesday night in their Fresno City Council District 1 race with 36 of 37 precincts reporting.  Fresno Bee article

Stockton council: Second time around, Fugazi earns victory – Nearly two years after losing out to Dyane Burgos Medina in her bid to be appointed to the Stockton City Council, Christina Fugazi turned the tables Tuesday by easily winning herself a full four-year term.  Stockton Record article

Incumbents, Parlier winning Bakersfield council seats – In the busiest Bakersfield City Council election in two decades, it appeared a retired Department of Justice special agent and three incumbents were going to win the four seats in contention Tuesday night.  Bakersfield Californian article

Brubaker tops Tulare council’s District 2 race, Macedo re-elected – A relative newcomer to Tulare won the race for the city council Area 2. Ben Brubaker, who’s currently serving in the Tulare Planning Commission, received 183 votes, edging Maritsa Castellanoz Munoz by only two votes. Art Cabello, a veteran in the local politics and public office, was third with 120 votes.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Lisa Gamoian holds slight lead over Rachel Hill for Fresno County judge – The lone judicial race in Fresno County — on record as the costliest, nastiest and most hard-fought ever — was sizing up Tuesday night to be a close contest with no clear winner in sight. With 556 of 577 precincts counted, Fresno prosecutor Lisa Gamoian had 51.1% of the vote while Fresno attorney Rachel Hill had 48.5%.  Fresno Bee article

Soiseth wins Turlock mayor’s race – Gary Soiseth won the mayor’s race over Mike Brem on Tuesday night, while challenger Matthew Jacob and incumbent Bill DeHart were narrowly leading for two City Council seats.  Modesto Bee article

Varney, Linn win big in races for Madera County sheriff, DA – Madera County law enforcement candidates Jay Varney and David Linn won big Tuesday in their races for sheriff and district attorney.  Fresno Bee article

Returns point toward victory for Fresno County zoo tax – Measure Z, a proposal to extend for 10 more years a Fresno County sales tax add-on for improvements and operations at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, was winning strong voter support for approval in election returns Tuesday night.  Fresno Bee article

Voters shake up Patterson City Council – Mayor Luis Molina easily captured a third term Tuesday in an election that held mixed results for other Patterson City Council members.  Modesto Bee article

Riverbank sticks with incumbent City Council members – Incumbent City Council members Leanne Jones Cruz and Cal Campbell were headed to victory Tuesday, winning four-year terms on Riverbank’s once-turbulent council.  Modesto Bee article

Turlock’s road measure failing; Oakdale, Newman voters pass their measures – In addition to electing officials to various offices, voters in Turlock, Oakdale and Newman also had choices to make about local measures on sales taxes, district elections and a growth boundary.  Modesto Bee article

Of Stanislaus’ smallest cities, only Newman makes a change – Stanislaus County’s three smallest cities – Hughson, Newman and Waterford – all had mayoral and council spots open in Tuesday’s election, though in all three cases there was no contest for the mayor’s seat. Hughson and Waterford voters were poised to keep their elected officials in office, while Newman voters were bringing a change to their council.  Modesto Bee article

Villalta wins re-election in Los Banos mayor race – At about 9:45 on Tuesday evening, Los Banos Mayor Mike Villalta grabbed a microphone in Me-N-Ed’s on the west side of the city and gave a victory announcement in his re-election bid.  Merced Sun-Star article

Manteca’s mayor pro tem leads over challenger – The voters of Manteca have dediced to stay inside the city government to find a replacement for longtime Mayor Willie Weatherford.  Stockton Record

Mousalimas becomes San Joaquin County’s top educator – James Mousalimas won the fight to become the highest-ranking and most powerful education official in San Joaquin County in a race that in the end proved more about his broad-based support than opponent Jeff Tilton’s call for change.  Stockton Record article

Pair of political newcomers take lead over State Center incumbents – It was not a good night for State Center Community College District incumbents. Both Isabel Barreras and 33-year veteran Dorothy “Dottie” Smith were falling far behind their challengers Tuesday night, with political newcomers Bobby Kahn and Miguel Arias holding early leads.  Fresno Bee article

Delta incumbent falls far behind – San Joaquin Delta College Board President Taj Khan of Lodi was in danger of losing his seat early Wednesday, after leading most of the previous evening in early returns.  Stockton Record article

New faces for Stockton Unified school board – The governance of Stockton Unified may be in for sweeping change with three of seven seats changing hands in Tuesday’s Board of Trustees election.  Stockton Record article

Kern High School District incumbents lead in board races, local developer could join KCCD – Two incumbent high school board members and newcomers Rick Wright and Kyle Carter led in a community college race in early election totals Tuesday in Kern County.  Bakersfield Californian article

Merced High School Union trustee ousted – An incumbent Merced Union High School District trustee was voted out of office by a large margin in Tuesday’s balloting in Merced County, another incumbent was lagging behind and several other trustees weathered challenges at the polls.  Merced Sun-Star article

Incumbents fare well in several small San Joaquin County school districts – Three school districts in south San Joaquin County and one north of Lodi had board positions on the ballot, Escalon Unified among them with one seat up for election.  Stockton Record article

Valley election results by county:

·       Fresno County

·       Kern County

·       Kings County

·       Madera County

·       Merced County

·       San Joaquin County

·       Stanislaus County

·       Tulare County

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Jerry Brown makes history, wins fourth term – Forty years after vaulting onto the national stage as California’s young and quixotic new governor, Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr. won a historic fourth term Tuesday as the seasoned elder who led the state’s recovery from near fiscal disaster, according to the Associated Press.  LA Times article

Californians OK Prop 2, on rainy day fund – Proposition 2, to strengthen California’s rainy day fund, has passed, AP reports. A constitutional amendment with bipartisan support, the measure was placed on the ballot by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown. LA Times articleEdSource article

California voters reject Props 45, 46, 48; pass 47 – California voters soundly rejected two hotly contested propositions Tuesday night — one that would have halted excessive health care insurance rates and another that would have raised the state’s 39-year-old cap on medical malpractice damage awards. An Indian gaming proposal also failed. But voters passed a measure that requires misdemeanor sentences rather than longer felony sentences for six crimes.  San Jose Mercury News article

John Myers: Five takeaways from election day in California – A look at the big takeaways — five in all — from a California election that, well, may not be that memorable in the years to come.  Myers in KQED

North Fork casino losing in statewide proposition – A Madera County casino compact that would pay millions of dollars into community programs was losing in a statewide vote Tuesday. With 62.2% of precincts statewide reporting on the referendum, 60.1% of voters opposed the compact while 39.9% supported it.  Fresno Bee article

Voters approve sentencing changes in Prop 47 – California voters have approved Proposition 47, which will change state sentencing laws. The measure was winning 58 percent to 42 percent.  Sacramento Bee article

Torlakson declares victory over Tuck for California schools chief – Incumbent Tom Torlakson declared victory early Wednesday over challenger Marshall Tuck in the closely contested race for state superintendent of public instruction. With 82 percent of precincts reporting, Torlakson led 53 percent to 47 percent.  Sacramento Bee article;EdSource articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Voters defeat health insurance rate initiative – On the heels of an advertising blitz funded by health insurance companies, California voters on Tuesday tanked a proposal to give the state’s insurance commissioner veto authority over health insurance premiums.  AP article

Democrat Newsom re-elected lieutenant governor – Democrat Gavin Newsom defeated a lesser-known Republican Tuesday to coast to a second term as California’s lieutenant governor, a low-profile post that has little actual power.  AP article

Other areas

Results are mixed on soda tax and anti-fracking ballot measures – Voters in San Francisco defeated a measure Tuesday that would have imposed a tax on sugary drinks, while a similar proposal in Berkeley was leading by a wide margin. In Northern California’s San Benito County, a proposed ban on the oil extraction method known as fracking was approved by voters, but an anti-fracking measure in Santa Barbara County was defeated.  LA Times article

Voters in Berkeley pass tax on sugary drinks – Berkeley voters became the first in the country to approve taxing sodas to curb consumption, after costly campaigns by the soda industry helped defeat similar taxes in more than 30 other cities and states in recent years.  AP article

Sacramento’s strong-mayor measure defeated – Measure L, the Sacramento ballot measure proposing to grant new powers to the mayor’s office, was defeated Tuesday night.  Sacramento Bee article

Transportation measures in San Francisco, Alameda County win support – Voters in San Francisco and Alameda County appeared willing Tuesday to put their money where their commutes are by backing ballot measures to raise billions for transportation improvements that put an emphasis on transit, bicycles and pedestrians. The Bay Area’s two transportation tax measures were on track to capture the two-thirds majority needed for approval.  San Francisco Chronicle article

In all-GOP race, Tom McClintock easily wins re-election – Rep. Tom McClintock easily cruised to reelection against an underfunded fellow Republican. McClintock was leading Art Moore 59 percent to 41 percent when the Associated Press called the race with 29 percent of precincts reporting.  Sacramento Bee article

Richard Pan wins California Senate seat – In the hotly contested Democrat-on-Democrat fight to replace Sen. Darrell Steinberg in the state Senate, Assemblyman Richard Pan defeated Assemblyman Roger Dickinson Tuesday night.  Sacramento Bee article

Political effects linger 20 years after Prop 187 targeted illegal immigration – This week marks the 20th anniversary of  Proposition 187, a ballot measure that left a profound mark on California politics.  KQED report

Joe Mathews: One big loser this election – California media – Media coverage of elections matters in California, in part because we ask voters to make dozens of decisions in candidate contests and ballot measures. But this year, election coverage has been so halfhearted that one wonders why people bothered to vote.  Mathews op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Ed Lee expected to announce re-election run – With Tuesday’s election in the rearview mirror, look for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to announce that he’ll seek re-election — setting the stage for next year’s political battle royal.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Sacramento Bee: Harris shouldn’t duck Arizona redistricting case – Attorney General Kamala Harris ought to get involved in the case, on the side of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and states’ rights.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Oregon voters legalize recreational marijuana – Oregon voters legalized recreational pot use Tuesday, making the state the third to approve the drug for commercial sales.  AP article

Republicans seize control of U.S. Senate – Riding a surge of voter discontent, Republicans seized control of the Senate on Tuesday, giving the GOP full command of Congress and promising a contentious final two years of the Obama administration.  LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Cal State ‘success fees’ draw growing criticism – Undergraduates in the California State University system already pay historically high tuitions: an average of $5,472 a year not including books, room and board. But students who read the fine print are also noticing an additional charge — anywhere from $30 to nearly $800 a year — under the category of “student success fee.”  LA Times article

Private sector added 230,000 net new jobs last month, ADP reports – Private employers added 230,000 net new jobs in October, a solid gain that indicates the labor market is continuing to improve, payroll firm Automatic Data Processing said Wednesday.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Higher minimum wage wins with big support in San Francisco and Oakland – San Francisco voters, keenly aware of the rising cost of living in one of the most expensive cities in the nation, voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. A similar ballot measure in Oakland had an even wider lead with almost half of the votes counted. San Francisco Chronicle article

State exports stay strong despite slowing ag shipments – Despite adverse economic conditions and political turmoil in some markets abroad, California’s export trade sector turned in another strong month in September.  Sacramento Bee article

Fresno home prices rose in September – Home prices increased in Fresno by 7.7 percent in September 2014 compared to last year, according to new data from real estate statistics firm CoreLogic.  The Business Journal article

Sacramento arena opponents file another court appeal – The ground has been broken, but opponents of the new Sacramento Kings arena nonetheless filed a new court appeal Tuesday in what has been a fruitless effort so far to stop the $477 million project.  Sacramento Bee article

Vendome building rises from the ashes – A little more than two years after the historic Vendome Hotel building was destroyed by a fire, its replacement is nearing completion. Bob Sharp, whose family has owned the property at Eighth and Irwin streets for about 60 years, said he is still working to find tenants for the businesses downstairs and the apartments located upstairs.  Hanford Sentinel article


Biggest California water users, misers at a glance – These large California water suppliers serving 40,000 or more reported the largest per-capita water use (gallons per day) in September, and are compared to the same month in 2013.  AP article

San Francisco residents praised for using least water in state – San Francisco consumes less water per person than any community in California, a new state survey shows — a behavior that stands up as exemplary during the prolonged and damaging drought, water experts say.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Coastal California residents are using far less water – Residents in coastal communities use far less water than their inland counterparts, but still find ways to conserve even more, residential per-capita water use figures released for the first time Tuesday show.  AP article

Drought: Beverly Hills is big water user; East LA is the lowest – Californians continued to use less water in September, but the reductions were more modest than in the summer months, and water use varied greatly by community, officials said Tuesday.  LA Times article

Asian citrus psyllid proposal worries organic farmers –  To combat pests like the Asian citrus psyllid, exotic fruit fly and glassy-winged sharpshooter that threaten the state’s food supply, the California Department of Food and Agriculture is weighing a new plan that some organic farmers say doesn’t do enough to prevent their crops from being ruined by pesticides.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

LAPD moves one step closer to on-body cameras for officers – After months of testing, Los Angeles police officials have picked the company they would like to use to outfit hundreds of officers with on-body cameras.  LA Times article


Hazing report leads to investigation, suspension in Hughson – An alleged hazing incident at Hughson High has led to a law enforcement investigation and the suspension of several players from the school’s football team. Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Lt. Keith Rakoncza confirmed that his department is investigating an incident “that occurred at the high school involving students.”  Modesto Bee article

Parents seeking preschool slots start early – With kindergarten requiring children to be ready for academics sooner than in years past, parents feel increased pressure to find “the right” preschool program that will promote future academic success, preschool admission directors say. Gone are the days when preschool was seen as optional, with some kids starting kindergarten as their first experience in a classroom setting.  EdSource article

Sac State target of latest school shooting threat – Sacramento State University was the latest local campus to have the threat of a school shooting scrawled across a bathroom wall. The threat “3:00 11/4 school shooting” was found Tuesday in a woman’s bathroom at the University Union, according to an email sent out to staff and students, asking them to “remain vigilant.”  Sacramento Bee article


Mark Grossi: Every month in 2014 has been warmest on record for Fresno – Last month was the warmest October on record in Fresno. So I looked a little closer at the data and found a true eye-opener about Fresno this year — every month has been in the top 10 warmest on record.  Grossi in Fresno Bee

The surprising reason abandoned U.S. mines haven’t been cleaned up – Hundreds of thousands of abandoned mines litter the West: gold, silver, lead, copper. Some are left from the California gold rush; some were abandoned just a few decades ago. To say the least, America has a problem with abandoned mines.  Center for Investigative Reporting article

Health/Human Services

New grant forms partnership between UC Merced and nonprofits to fight obesity – UC Merced and the Merced County Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program have formed a new partnership that aims to further efforts in reducing obesity, especially within the county’s Latino families.  Merced Sun-Star article

UC Merced Connect: Is copper in water and Alzheimer’s connected? – UC Merced professor Masashi Kitazawa wants to figure out if any environmental factors increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease, specifically, whether elevated levels of copper in drinking water play a role.  UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star

Land Use/Housing

Michael Fitzgerald: Wine ordinance finally uncorked – After two years of controversy, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved new rules to guide the county’s rapidly growing wine tourism industry into its future.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

LA moves to curb teardowns in ‘mansionization’ hot spots – Los Angeles lawmakers unanimously voted Tuesday to draft rules that would temporarily curb demolitions in more than a dozen neighborhoods where residents have bemoaned “mansionization” – homes being knocked down and replaced with bigger buildings seen as too large for their lots.  LA Times article

Other Areas

Stockton council turns focus toward libraries – A strategic plan to revamp the public libraries received largely positive reviews at a brisk election-night City Council meeting, but hopes for more branches in underserved parts of Stockton are not likely to be met anytime soon, Deputy City Manager Laurie Montes said Tuesday night. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California has much at stake in Arizona redistricting case.

Merced Sun-Star – New burning rules may be irksome, but they will save lives.

Modesto Bee – New burning rules may be irksome, but they will save lives.

Sacramento Bee – California Attorney General Kamala Harris shouldn’t duck Arizona redistricting case; Brittany Maynard’s message of hope before dying.