November 7, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

CD16: Costa needs Fresno’s help if he wants to beat Tacherra and stay in Congress – For Costa, that part of his old district, which is now part of his new district, is the key to him staying in Congress — or being dumped by an upstart, underfunded and unhearlded rural Fresno County dairyman. The chunk of the old 20th District is heavily Democratic, urban Fresno. It is the very heart of Costa’s political strength, both in the old 20th District and now in the 16th District. But one influential political consultant says not even urban Fresno can save Costa, and come January, Republican Johnny Tacherra will head to Washington D.C. as the new 16th District representative.  Fresno Bee article

AD21: California GOP’s hit on Adam Gray ruffles party ranks – California Republicans are on the cusp of wiping away Democratic supermajorities in the Legislature. But even in victory there was some dissension at the top. Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, the incoming Assembly GOP leader, chafed at the decision by California Republican Party Chair Jim Brulte to target Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray of Merced.  Capitol Alert

Gov. Brown

Brown brushes off GOP opposition to bullet train – Gov. Jerry Brown played down concerns Thursday about Republicans killing the state’s $68-billion bullet train, saying that “they’re going to join the chorus” in support of high-speed rail once construction around Fresno and Bakersfield gains momentum.  LA Times article

Brown to start 4th California term with pledge for fiscal restraint – Now, 40 years after he was first elected governor of California, Mr. Brown, 76, will begin what will almost certainly be his last term in public office, and the question will be what he intends to do with his power. In an interview Wednesday, he emphasized the importance of fiscal restraint, which has long been one of his biggest points of pride, and which he seems to want to turn into his permanent legacy for California.  New York Times article

Valley politics

CD21: Analysis: Kings’ passion the difference in Valadao-Renteria matchup – What do you get when you factor in Kings County’s passionate conservatism and its high voter turnout in Tuesday’s midterm election? A tough road for Democratic congressional candidates in the 21st Congressional District.  Hanford Sentinel article

SD14: Vidak wins race – State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, has won California’s 14th Senate District seat. On Wednesday, with thousands of votes outstanding in Democratic turf in Fresno and Kern counties, it looked like Democrat Luis Chavez might have a slim opportunity to snatch victory out of the teeth of defeat. But Republican Tulare County, which refused to reveal how many votes it had left to count until late Wednesday, finally came through with the numbers. It sealed the deal for Vidak. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Dan Walters: Low-voting election sets new pattern – This week’s election may be establishing a new pattern in California politics that could exacerbate the state’s already high level of polarization.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

In California campaigns, biggest beneficiaries of outside spending won more than they lost – About seven in 10 California candidates getting the most outside financial help from independent expenditure committees in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election ended up winning their races.  Sacramento Bee article

Tim Donnelly: CAGOP now ‘moderate wing of the Democrat Party’ – State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, whose gubernatorial bid fired up many in the conservative grass roots — and struck fear into the hearts of moderate GOPers — says Tuesday’s election proved just one thing. Republican leaders “have taken the Grand Old Party and turned it into the moderate wing of the Democrat Party,” Donnelly said in an interview.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Joel Fox: Questions Post Elections – Votes are still being counted in the California election but the results so far raise some thoughts and questions.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Allan Hoffenblum:  Campaign 2014: Final thoughts – In the classic 1976 movie Network, Peter Finch, in the role of TV anchorman Howard Beal, yells “I’m made as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore.” Looking at the paltry 30 percent statewide voter turnout on Tuesday, most California voters must be yelling, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to vote anymore.”  Hoffenblum in Fox & Hounds

Voters preserve status quo on state Board of Equalization – California voters preserved the status quo in the state tax authority this week, electing two Democrats and two Republicans as board members.  LA Times article

Supporters of mandate on condoms in porn seek 2016 initiative –  An effort to require condom use in adult films made in California may be coming to the 2016 ballot. After two unsuccessful attempts to pass a statewide mandate in the Legislature, advocates for the requirement are launching an initiative campaign.  LA Times article


Fresno immigrant groups say ICE targets more people at their homes – Local immigrant rights groups say U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is targeting an increasing number of unauthorized immigrants at their homes.  Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Ami Bera cuts into Doug Ose’s lead – Republican Doug Ose’s lead over Democratic Rep. Ami Bera shrunk to more than 2,000 votes Thursday, as elections officials churned through tens of thousands of ballots to determine whether suburban Sacramento County’s 7th Congressional District will change partisan hands.  Sacramento Bee article

Appeals court upholds same-sex marriage ban – By a 2-to-1 vote, a federal appeals court in Cincinnati upheld the right of states to ban same-sex marriage, overturning lower-court decisions in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee that had found such restrictions to be unconstitutional.  New York Times articleLA Times articleAP article

Sen.-elect Hertzberg to moonlight with law firm – State Sen.-elect Bob Hertzberg has accepted a second job as a government affairs attorney for the law firm Glaser Weil, but says he will not advise clients on issues that may come before state agencies or the Legislature.  LA Times article

Dan Walters Daily:  California House races provide surrogate battle – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are both from California. Who came out on top Tuesday on their home turf?  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

Study: Extending ACE service would bring big money to Valley – Bringing Bay Area-bound passenger rail to Modesto, Turlock and Merced could boost the regional economy by at least $1.14 billion in the next 15 years, an analysis says.  Modesto Bee article

Gov. Brown, students decry proposed UC tuition hikes – A University of California proposal to increase tuition by as much as 5% in each of the next five years drew sharp opposition Thursday from Gov. Jerry Brown, top state legislative leaders and student activists, ending three years of relative peace over the cost of public higher education in the state.  LA Times articleCapitol Alert

Jobs and the Economy

Economy added 214,000 jobs in October; unemployment rate down to 5.8 percent – The economy posted another solid, though somewhat disappointing, month of job growth in October, adding 214,000 net new positions while the unemployment rate fell to a post-Great Recession low of 5.8%, the Labor Department said Friday.  LA Times article

Bakersfield home market steady in October with supply down, demand up – Bakersfield home prices held steady in October as supply dipped and demand ticked higher during what is normally a slow time of year for sales, according to a preliminary report by local appraiser Gary Crabtree. The city’s median closing price for existing homes — the point at which half sold for more and half went for less — was unchanged from September at $215,000. That represented a 16.2 percent jump from a year before. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Venture Forum provides advice, opportunities for local entrepreneurs – You can’t run a business without money, but finding that money can become a formidable obstacle to budding entrepreneurs and their start-up companies. At Thursday’s ninth annual Central Valley Venture Forum in Clovis, a panel of investment experts offered their advice for how small businesses can maximize their opportunities to raise the capital they need to get their product off the ground or grow their companies. Fresno Bee article

Walmart, Ceres win legal battle over supercenter – A three-year court battle over the construction of a Walmart Supercenter in Ceres concluded this week with a green light on the project. The city and Walmart learned Thursday that Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne ruled in their favor on all 10 arguments filed by the plaintiff, Citizens for Ceres.  Modesto Bee article

Huge distribution center kicks off Tracy industrial park – A private developer and Tracy city officials Thursday formally launched construction of a 1 million-square-foot distribution center in the new Prologis International Park of Commerce.  Stockton Record article

Plan floated to bring Chukchansi factions together – A Chukchansi faction that has mostly taken a back seat in the most recent intratribal bickering is trying to find a middle ground that would bring the tribe’s groups together and reopen Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, which was closed four weeks ago.  Fresno Bee article

Court clerks agree to contract; strike averted – San Joaquin County Superior Court clerks have reached a contract agreement with administrators, ending the possibility of a strike at the courthouses.  Stockton Record article

Stockton Record: Supervisors solid with wine ordinance – For the most part, supervisors moved ahead in a prudent manner. They voted 5-0 to establish two sets of rules — one set for existing wineries and another for potential businesses.  Stockton Record editorial

Massive Hollywood project sits atop quake fault, California says – California’s state geologist has concluded that an active earthquake fault is underneath a massive proposed skyscraper project in Hollywood, setting the stage for a huge battle at City Hall over growth and seismic safety.  LA Times article

Postal Service to deliver Fresno, Modesto, Merced 7 days a week till Christmas – The U.S. Postal Service announced Thursday that it will deliver packages on Sundays in major cities and high-volume areas during the holiday season. Fresno, Modesto and Merced are among the cities that will receive the service, according to Sacramento District spokesman Augustine Ruiz.  AP articleFresno Bee article

Livingston business awarded $2 million contract – A Livingston small business has been awarded a $2 million contract to provide computer supplies to a Nebraska-based Air Force base.  Merced Sun-Star article

Compton disputes ranking as state’s most financially distressed city – Compton leaders disputed the results of a think tank’s study released Thursday that concluded the city is the most financially distressed in California.  LA Times article

No decision on expansion likely until 2015, Major League Soccer says – Sacramentans will probably have to wait longer than expected to find out if the city will be granted a Major League Soccer expansion team.  Sacramento Bee article

Labor strife at ports further slows goods movement – Spreading labor strife at major West Coast seaports is exacerbating problems that importers have had getting products to market, threatening the on-time delivery of some holiday goods.  AP article

Report: Safety fears sank Google barge plan – If you were wondering what happened to that mysterious Google barge that popped up last year off Treasure Island, the Wall Street Journal has unearthed e-mails that indicate officials thought the vessels weren’t safe enough for the public, leading Google to abandon the project.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Sacramento City Council Oks $2.5 million for planned theater complex – The Sacramento City Council on Thursday approved a $2.5 million gift to help the B Street Theatre finalize the funding it needs for a long-planned complex in midtown.  Sacramento Bee article

Judge set to rule on Detroit bankruptcy exit plan – A federal judge is expected to rule Friday on a restructuring plan that would allow Detroit to exit bankruptcy protection, the latest step in the city’s complex path out of decades of financial woe.  LA Times article


Farm leaders celebrate water bond passage, prepare for round two – Farm water officials worked years on the $7.5 billion state water bond that passed Tuesday, offering the possibility of partly bankrolling a new reservoir near Fresno. Now it’s time for round two – actually getting funding for Temperance Flat and other projects.  Fresno Bee articleHanford Sentinel article

Tulare County will welcome bond money – Tulare County farmer Dennis McFarlin was happy that California voters passed a $7.5 billion water bond on Tuesday.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Hopes for El Niño evaporating; would have brought a wet winter – Federal forecasters on Thursday scaled back the likelihood of an El Niño developing this winter, dampening hopes of a wet winter washing away the California drought. Pacific Ocean waters have failed to warm to the levels that scientists projected earlier this year, when the federal Climate Prediction Center issued an El Niño watch and said the weather pattern was likely to evolve by now — or sometime around the end of the year.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno City Council adopts Water Conservation Act – City Hall has taken a big step toward what one council member calls “the greening of Fresno.” The City Council on Thursday adopted the Water Conservation Act, a detailed piece of policy designed to get Fresnans on the water-saving bandwagon.  Fresno Bee article

Patterson’s proposed farmland mitigation fee is contested – This city has created a stir with a proposed farmland mitigation fee of $2,000 an acre. Some officials said it’s not nearly enough to comply with a countywide policy for protecting farmland from urban sprawl. Others who defend the fee said it’s reasonable and close to what other growth-minded cities charge in the Northern San Joaquin Valley.  Modesto Bee article

More psyllids found near Exeter – A little more than a month after all of Tulare County was put under an agricultural quarantine because of Asian citrus psyllids found here, two more of the insects have been found south of Exeter.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

California about to learn ‘tough on crime’ is tough to undo – Thad Kousser, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, told The Washington Post last week that the measure (Prop 47) “would officially end California’s tough-on-crime era.” California’s criminal justice system has long been among the most punitive, and the Supreme Court has ordered the state to deal with its inhumanely crowded prisons. But the reforms might prove tougher to implement than many expect.  Washington Post article

Fresno Bee:  Prop 47 may cause big trouble – The victory of Proposition 47 in California on Tuesday is another example of the public’s waning support of 20th century tough-on-crime policies that stuffed state prisons to unhealthy levels. We sure hope the public knows what it is doing, because the provisions of the measure began Wednesday.  Fresno Bee editorial

Michelle Natividad Rodriguez: Next step with Prop 47 is to help ex-inmates get jobs – The Oakland attorney writes, “New job opportunities for formerly incarcerated workers could translate into economic benefits for all. Putting people back to work increases their earnings and the income taxes they pay, and boosts sales tax revenues.” Rodriguez op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Victims groups sues over slow California executions – A victims’ rights organization sued California state officials on Thursday as it seeks to speed up executions that have been on hold since 2006.  AP article

Modesto police look to incentives to attract police officers – The Modesto Police Department will try to address its trouble recruiting officers by offering a $4,500 bonus to veteran cops who join the department, hiring promising recruits while they still are in the police academy and creating a police cadet program to develop its own officers. Modesto Bee article

Hanford public safety issues remain – With the failure of Measure S, city leaders are back to square one in their efforts to pay for new staff, equipment and facilities for Hanford’s police and fire departments. Hanford Sentinel article

Plea deal in works in Atwater prison inmate killing – A proposed plea deal could spare the life of a former U.S. Penitentiary Atwater prisoner accused of killing his cellmate in 2003.  Merced Sun-Star article

LAPD is reviewing use of helicopters for non-department events – After inquiries from The Times, the LAPD said it has launched an investigation into the department’s participation in the Oct. 27 La Cañada Flintridge fundraiser as well as other events, and is examining its policies on when to approve the use of the choppers.  LA Times article


Opinions differ on impact of Tuck’s campaign – In the hours since Marshall Tuck’s daunting but failed effort to unseat incumbent State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, education and political observers have reached different conclusions about the election and its significance.  EdSource article

Merced school board approves raise, bonus for teachers – The Merced City School District Board of Education unanimously granted the 504 members of the Merced City Teachers Association a 3 percent raise retroactive to July, a one-time 2 percent bonus for July through March and an additional 2 percent of their salary added to the district contribution for health benefits.  Merced Sun-Star article

Teachers in training at Stan State get insider’s view of global studies – This semester, global studies got a real-world twist for students in the California State University, Stanislaus, College of Education. Class members spend two days a month on joint projects with students in the Davis High Language Institute, a program for recent immigrants from around the world.  Modesto Bee article

College of the Sequoias nears reaffirmation of reaccreditation – College of the Sequoias Superintendent and President Stan Carrizosa said since Feb. 13, 2013 — the day the school was placed on a “show cause” status by an accrediting commission and put at risk of closing its doors — he, the faculty, staff and students have been on a lengthy ride to get the school to keep its accreditation.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Hughson officials find no evidence of sexual assault in claimed football hazing – School officials on Thursday released a statement saying they found that “no sexual assault occurred” in a claimed hazing incident last month.  Modesto Bee article

New LA student records system badly mishandled, report concludes – The rollout of a new student records system for Los Angeles schools was problematic at just about every level, according to a consultant’s report released Thursday.  LA Times article

UC Merced presents daughters of slain civil rights activist with Spendlove Prize – UC Merced presented the Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance on Thursday night to the the three daughters of Viola Gregg Liuzzo, a civil rights activist killed in 1965 by members of the Ku Klux Klan.  Merced Sun-Star article


State recycling program has been running large deficits – A state audit has found that the cost of the state’s recycling program for beverage containers has exceeded its revenue by over $100 million in three of the last four fiscal years. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Campaign begins to preserve ban on plastic grocery bags – A group of politicians, environmentalists and businesses announced Thursday it is launching a campaign to fight efforts to repeal a ban on single-use plastic bags from stores that is scheduled to take effect July 1.  LA Times article

Controversial Lamont composter being sold – A Lamont composting facility at the center of several local controversies is expected to sell early next year to an employee-owned company based in San Francisco.  Bakersfield Californian article

Merced College plans mimic forest in Los Banos – After receiving a $50,000 grant, Merced College’s Los Banos campus has plans to put in a mimic habitat, something professors called a “food forest.”  Merced Sun-Star article

Health/Human Services

Premiums will increase for some Medicare plans in Stanislaus County – Some Medicare beneficiaries in Stanislaus County will pay higher premiums for their managed-care plans next year.  Modesto Bee article

New state funding improves county mental health services – The Joslyn Center in Burbank is a place where older adults come for low-cost healthy meals and activities ranging from fitness and computer classes to music lessons.  KQED report

With rampant abuse, advocates call for education – In San Joaquin County alone, each of the six prosecutors in the child abuse division is working on between 16 to 20 cases of child sexual abuse at any time. The frequency and manner of these violations profoundly underscores a need for children to be educated on the topic, according to local prosecutors and child advocates.  Stockton Record article

UC Davis Medical Center nurses suit up for treating Ebola patients – Nurses at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento will be protected head-to-toe and are prepared to handle the Ebola virus if it shows up at their doors, they said at a media briefing Thursday.  Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

Five qualify to be considered for Stockton council seat – The deadline to apply has passed, and five candidates have qualified for consideration to serve the final two years of Stockton City Councilwoman Kathy Miller’s term.  Stockton Record article

Merced Youth Council funded – Merced’s Youth Council has been given a budget of $12,500 this fiscal year, but any unspent money will not be guaranteed next year after a vote this week by the Merced City Council.  Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton Record: Library system needs resources, long-term planning – There is a lot of work to be done to start restoring the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library system. But there also are a lot of dedicated people ready and willing to contribute.  Stockton Record article

Michael Fitzgerald: Loving Stockton in just six words – The winner of the Six Word City contest is … Carol Willson. Willson, a retired teacher, best expressed in six words what’s great about Stockton: Where rivers and cultures come together.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Katzakian says farewell; Lodi looks forward – Easy-going, low-key Phil Katzakian, capping off his eight-year tenure on the City Council by serving as mayor for the second time, used the opportunity during the 2014 Mayor’s State of the City Luncheon on Thursday to bid farewell to the people he’s gotten to know.  Stockton Record article

Mayor Johnson wants committee to explore ‘good government’ elements of Measure L – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson doesn’t want everything from his strong mayor ballot measure to be forgotten. The mayor on Thursday asked that a City Council ad hoc committee explore implementing “good government” elements of Measure L, which was defeated Tuesday by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent.  Sacramento Bee article

City Beat: Townhomes selling well, group clamors for bingo game – By year’s end, nine of the 14 city-owned townhomes at Creekview Villas, 1300 R St., are expected to sell to low- or moderate-income buyers.  Bakersfield Californian article

San Francisco techie is ‘Silk Road 2.0’ mastermind, feds say – The government’s battle to clean up the darkest corners of the Internet returned to San Francisco when federal agents arrested a young computer programmer on charges that he assumed control of the notorious and anonymous “Silk Road” drug bazaar, generating $400,000 a month in profit from a site that resembled eBay and Amazon.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The victory of Proposition 47 in California on Tuesday is another example of the public’s waning support of 20th century tough-on-crime policies that stuffed state prisons to unhealthy levels. We sure hope the public knows what it is doing, because the provisions of the measure began Wednesday.

Merced Sun-Star – A new hope for compromise in Washington.

Modesto Bee – A new hope for compromise in Washington.

Sacramento Bee – A new hope for compromise in Washington; Attack ads are gone but not lightly forgotten.

Stockton Record – There is a lot of work to be done to start restoring the Stockton-San Joaquin County Public Library system. But there also are a lot of dedicated people ready and willing to contribute; San Joaquin County supervisors are solid with wine ordinance.