November 7, 2016


Political Stories  – Top stories

Dan Walters: Brown says pension reform still on his agenda, but is it? — During this fiscal year, the state must cough up 50 percent of CHP officers’ salaries for pensions, a 59 percent increase during Brown’s second governorship. The same pattern is true of other pension systems, both state and local, and the very mild reform that Brown and the Legislature enacted in 2012 – mostly to claim that they had done something – will not make a serious dent in the ever-deepening pension crisis. Brown says it’s still on his agenda, but time is running out quickly and he’s shown no inclination to get serious. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

We read it so you don’t have to: 10 things you need to know about Prop 64, which would legalize pot in California – Here’s what we do know so far about what legalizing pot would look like in California based upon what is outlined in the ballot measure. LA Times article

Valley politics

CD 21: Hillary Clinton endorses Democrat Emelio Huerta in race – Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton endorsed 21st Congressional District Democratic candidate Emilio Huerta Sunday. Huerta faces Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) in the Central Valley district, a major agricultural region with a population that is nearly 75% Latino. LA Times article

Valley voters will have ‘safe and secure places to vote’ — This has been an extraordinary, anxiety-producing campaign season, but election officials in the central San Joaquin Valley say voters should not fret: Measures are in place to make sure nothing interferes with the electoral process Tuesday. They’re not expecting Election Day problems, regardless of nationwide talk of “rigged” results and voter intimidation – but they’re prepared nevertheless. Fresno Bee article

Nick Ortiz: Let’s address ‘innuendo’ surrounding Chamber’s endorsements – The president and CEO of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce writes, “Criticism and debate are perfectly acceptable during an election — campaigns boil down to a contest of ideas and we must be able to discuss those ideas openly and draw contrasts. What is frustrating to me is the amount of disinformation that has been spread on social media and other forums about the Chamber, how we’re funded, and how we make decisions.” Ortiz op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Prop 64: Reefer madness cured by legalization, education, treatment? – As California voters head to the polls Tuesday to consider legalizing marijuana in the Golden State, recovering abusers like Jack say they are evidence that addiction to pot is real – and that getting help is essential. But that doesn’t mean they are opposed to Proposition 64. If passed, the drug would be legal along the entire Pacific coast and its use could grow. San Jose Mercury News article

Can a San Francisco liberal win the Central Valley in the race for U.S. Senate? — The Central Valley remains one of the biggest wildcards in Tuesday’s election and will test whether the front-running Kamala Harris, a Bay Area progressive and the party’s favored candidate, has the political strength to win over voters outside the comfort of her liberal base. Harris struggled to do so in the past, losing the vast majority of Central Valley counties in her 2010 and 2014 campaigns for attorney general. But those races were against Republicans. LA Times article

Senate candidates crisscross Southern California making last-minute pleas for votes – U.S. Senate candidates Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez spent their final Sunday before election day in their political comfort zones, issuing their final pleas for support and urging Southern Californians to vote. LA Times article

Who wins if California voters tax e-cigarettes? — The measure is a potential boon for state coffers but is also considered a major threat by the tobacco industry, which relies increasingly on its e-cigarette business.  New York Times article


As new Syrian refugees adapt to Fresno, more could be on the way — Fresno is not an official resettlement site for those fleeing war. The city hasn’t received a major surge of refugees since 3,000 Hmong arrived in 2004. But around 15 families recently have moved to Fresno from Turlock and other settlement sites in California. Most live as neighbors in the same north-central Fresno apartment complex. The Fresno Unified School District has enrolled at least 20 Syrian refugee studentsin the past month. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Watch these California congressional races if Democrats have a good election night – If a strong anti-Donald Trump wave develops on election night, these are the California races to watch. Mentioned: CD 10 race between Jeff Denham and Michael Eggman and CD 21 race between David Valadao and Emelio Huerta.  LA Times article

Most expensive thing on California’s ballot: A one-cent soda tax – In this most contentious of elections, you wouldn’t think that a soda tax would be the issue to attract the big bucks. But measures in just two California cities have drawn more money than that state’s Senate race and statewide referendums on marijuana legalization and gun control — combined. New York Times article

Ami Bera, Scott Jones hit the streets in tight Sacrament-area House race – Republican congressional candidate Scott Jones had paused between canvassing homes over the weekend to reflect on his campaign against Rep. Ami Bera, an Elk Grove Democrat, when the conversation meandered to history. Sacramento Bee article

Thousands of early voters hit the polls in LA County: ‘I have never seen such long lines’ — Thousands of Angelenos braved long lines and, in some cases, waited up to four hours to take advantage of early voting this weekend at half a dozen polling stations set up around Los Angeles County. LA Times article

Cosby accusers help forge shift in sexual assault laws — As various states redraw statutes of limitations, a common factor has been the testimony of women who say they were assaulted by Bill Cosby years ago, in cases too old to be prosecuted.  New York Times article

California poised to make history with Latinas in charge of state Legislature — If the Democrats win big in Colorado on Tuesday, they could take control of both state legislative chambers. If that happens, the state would become the first in history to have its legislature led by two Latinas — Guzman as the Senate president and Crisanta Duran as the House speaker. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Latino support for Clinton set to hit a record high for presidential candidate – and for Trump, a new low — Not only are Latino voters set for record turnout this election, but a new poll Sunday shows Latino support for Donald Trump may be lower than for any Republican presidential candidate in more than 30 years. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

Why Fresno avoided bankruptcy, unlike Stockton — At a time when some are calling soaring state and local government pension debt a crisis, there is a notable outlier. The Fresno city pension system has been fully funded for at least a decade and last year projected a $289 million surplus. The main reason Fresno pensions have remained fully funded: The city’s public employee unions have accepted comparatively low retirement benefits, a particularly important concession by the police and firefighters who are a big part of the budget. Calpensions article

Fresno County workers could get more money to cushion insurance hike — Fresno County’s largest union has agreed to a proposal by Fresno County supervisors to add $50 per pay period for employees’ insurance to offset rate hikes. Service Employees International Union, which represents about half of the county’s nearly 7,600 employees, voted for the contribution hike by a wide margin, a union official said. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Downtown Sacramento: ‘Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded’ — City Councilman and downtown resident Steve Hansen is among those who have been monitoring the effect of the arena and new parking rules on downtown. He sees a downtown on the upswing in popularity, and predicts many of those grumbling about feeding meters will continue to come downtown, or will return. Representatives of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership business and property owners’ group and the Midtown Business Association report the new era of post 6 p.m. meters appears to be going well so far for businesses. Sacramento Bee article

Calaveras County copes with change after influx of new marijuana growers — As we crest a hill and come into the hot burn of the Butte Fire, our conversation stops short. All you can see are barren hills studded with black shards sticking out of the ground. It’s a 360 degree view of what used to be pine, manzanita. Capital Public Radio report

Rent and home prices in Burbank are higher than residents can afford, city official says — Recognizing the shortage of affordable housing in the city, members of the Burbank City Council started a conversation this week on how they can fix the shortfall. LA Times article


Modesto might discount water for low-income users — Modesto’s low-income water customers would get $10 off their monthly bills under a proposal the City Council will consider Tuesday. Modesto Bee article

Reservoir expansion could store water for millions in Bay Area — Millions of Bay Area residents could get extra drought insurance against water shortages and quality problems from a proposed $800 million expansion of the Los Vaqueros Reservoir that may have up to 10 water suppliers as partners. San Jose Mercury News article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Cardroom fight leads to gun battle involving officer; suspect remains at large — A suspect is on the run and a bystander is dead after a gunfight early Sunday outside Capitol Casino in Sacramento that involved two feuding groups and a police officer.  Sacramento Bee article

Merced City Council could pick new police station — The Merced City Council is set to discuss the city’s next police station Monday, as well as the early stages of a large, new apartment complex in northeast Merced. Merced Sun-Star article

Former Turlock police chief takes top job in Seaside — Turlock’s former police chief has taken the top law enforcement job in Seaside. Rob Jackson was sworn in Thursday as the Monterey County city’s police chief, about three months after he resigned as Turlock’s chief in mid-August after more than four years on the job. Modesto Bee article


Jose Gaspar: Some school districts shooting from the hip — Kernville Union School District Superintendent Robin Shive breathed a sigh of relief after his school board split 2-2 last month on a vote to allow concealed weapons on district campuses and at school-related events. The tie meant people with Concealed Carry Weapon permits would not be allowed to take their firearm on a campus. The tie vote underscored a debate many school districts are having thanks to SB 707, a new law that allows CCW permit holders to carry firearms on school grounds and college campuses if they get an OK from a school district superintendent. Gaspar column in Bakersfield Californian

Health/Human Services

Central Valley Regional Center building is a big, shiny space – Central Valley Regional Center is building a 15,237-square-foot office that will include medical examination rooms, space for a psychologist and behavioral specialists, a waiting area, conference room and plenty of cubicles. Merced Sun-Star article

After 860 trips, Cancer Society’s super volunteer retires – It’s been a long time since Bill Schaefer had a free Tuesday. Twelve years, to be exact. Starting this week, though, he’s available. Presumably. Schaefer has been dedicating one day a week to the American Cancer Society’s Bakersfield chapter, performing a task that doesn’t often get much recognition. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced rallies around family of ‘Baby Thomas’ — Thomas Jeffery Chandler was just 6 months old when he died, but already had lived long enough to unite a community. More than 150 people rallied around his mother, Noelle Chandler, on Saturday night, holding colorful balloons inscribed with messages of support and love and electric candles that filled Bob Hart Square on Main Street in Merced. Baby Thomas passed away Friday morning because of a rare heart condition, Chandler said Stanford doctors told her. Merced Sun-Star article

Moving gesture eases boy’s cancer fight — The little boy who dressed up as the big bad Predator to win StocktonCon’s costume contest wears a different outfit nowadays. It is a Chicago Bears knitted hat, a tribute to his favorite football team, that hides Devin Rodriguez’s bald head. Stockton Record article

Other areas

Sacramento’s ‘strong city manager’ heads for the door — No one would ever mistake John Shirey for Boss Tweed. Shirey, less than two weeks away from his final day as Sacramento city manager, is less of a politician and more of a details guy. He seems as impressed with rehabbing a water treatment plant as he does with building a downtown sports arena. But as Mayor Kevin Johnson tried time and again to make himself a “strong mayor,” Shirey played the role of a “strong city manager,” threatening to quit if the mayor was given more power than him. Sacramento Bee article