November 9, 2014

Receive the Maddy Daily in your inbox every morning! To subscribe or unsubscribe, please send an email to Ana Melendez at ajovelmelendez@csufresno.

Political Briefs

Top stories

Swearengin’s strong showing in defeat will likely lead to second statewide run for office — Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin conceded the race for state controller on Wednesday morning when she called her opponent, Bay Area Democrat Betty Yee, and congratulated her. But don’t think that, beyond the remaining two years of her final mayoral term, this is the end of the line for Swearengin’s political career. In fact, there are strong indications that this is just her first step forward on California’s statewide stage.  Fresno Bee article

With mid-term elections over, state politicians jump to 2016, and beyond — For California politicos who spent the last year yawning over a predictable top-of-the-ticket race, what has been shimmering in the distance is suddenly much closer. The next few statewide elections hold the promise of turnover unseen in a generation.  LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Bill Whalen: It’s on Jerry Brown to challenge California with bold ideas — The ball’s in Brown’s court to think outside the box and put something on the ballot that turns the nation’s attention to California. He’s suggested as much in recent days, without going into detail. No more lecturing us on doing more with less. Give us something great and grand.  Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Rachel Hill says she hasn’t formally conceded judge’s race, clarifies statement issued Friday —Fresno County Superior Court judge candidate Rachel Hill said Saturday she did not intend to concede defeat when she released a statement Friday evening that said “best of luck” to her opponent, Lisa Gamoian, “as she assumes her new role.”  Fresno Bee article

Eight things you (probably) didn’t know about Bakersfield’s council election — Think you’re an expert on the recent Bakersfield City Council races? Here’s eight things you may not know about the contests in Wards 1, 3, 4 and 7.  Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Prop 46 foes spent $60 million to maintain 1975 malpractice cap award — The election day drubbing of Proposition 46, an initiative that would have increased limits on certain medical malpractice damages, marks a stinging defeat for the state’s trial attorneys, who championed the measure.  LA Times article

Other areas

Momentum to legalize marijuana is growing in California – After Tuesday’s election, just one piece of the West Coast remained unwelcoming to recreational pot: California. But with voters in Oregon and Alaska legalizing the use and sale of marijuana — joining Washington and Colorado in inviting retail spreads of cannabis-infused teas and brownies and joints — advocates see fresh momentum behind the slow shift in how the public regards the green stuff and those who enjoy it.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Republican control of Congress could mean more military spending – With Republican majorities now assured in both houses of Congress, Pentagon spending is likely to grow to cope with national security threats around the globe.  LA Times article

2 Americans, including Bakersfield man, whisked home from North Korea — Two Americans held by North Korea were on their way home Saturday after their release was secured through a secret mission by the top U.S. intelligence official to the reclusive Communist country. Matthew Miller of Bakersfield, California, and Kenneth Bae of Lynnwood, Washington, were flying back to the West Coast with James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, according to U.S. officials. Clapper was the highest-ranking American to visit Pyongyang in more than a decade.  AP article

Dan Morain: Billionaire climate activist undaunted after losses in Tuesday’s election – Billionaire Tom Steyer, the environmentalists’ answer to the Koch brothers, called from his office in San Francisco last week, having analyzed results of his first serious foray into national campaigns. “Honestly, I think we had a much, much better 2014 than people are giving us credit for,” Steyer said. Come again? Morain in Sacramento Bee

Jessica Levinson: There is a reason not to celebrate the number of women in Congress – The professor at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, writes, “For the first time in United States history, women have hit the triple digits in Congress. There are now 100 female members of Congress. Excuse me while I pass on the celebrations. This is, in a word, pathetic. In two words, it is utterly pathetic.”  Levinson op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Victor Davis Hanson: Democrats meet their Waterloo — The Duke of Wellington said of his close-run victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo that the French “came on in the same old way, and we sent them back in the same old way.” Something like that happened to the Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm elections, as they lost the Senate, a few more seats in the House and additional governorships.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

Clovis and Bakersfield, with dirtiest of dirty air, complicate Valley’s pollution battle — Even with tougher district rules — such as the new wood-burning restrictions — and tighter federal standards on diesel engines, the hot spots will be hard to clean up, district projections show. To focus on Clovis and Bakersfield, officials will need to deal with regional politics, doubts from air activists and probably state and federal air agencies.  Fresno Bee article

Unmasked: How California’s largest nursing home chains perform — As the population ages, and more families face the daunting task of choosing long-term care, consumers remain largely in the dark about the ownership of many California nursing homes – and their track records. While industry officials contend they are intensely regulated by both the state and federal government, no single agency routinely evaluates nursing-home chains to gauge the overall care provided by their facilities. Sacramento Bee article; ‘See who owns every nursing home in California – and how they stack up’ in Sacramento Bee

Jobs and the Economy

Free shipping, membership perks, and smart shopping snag holiday deals – To shop online or in a store? That is the question this holiday season as retailers roll out store deals, online specials, and free and extended shipping options. Then comes a biggie — when will retailers have the best prices? Shopping for deals starts with research and ends with preference, Fresno shopping bloggers and retail experts say. The best or lowest prices for things like toys and tablets may not fall on Black Friday. And deals abound online and in stores.  Fresno Bee article

Business Beat: The disappearing Thanksgiving retail holiday – If you want to join the early crowds, you’d better eat that Thanksgiving dinner even earlier.  Modesto Bee article

Alon backs off plan to reopen refinery – In a shift with implications for more than 100 good, local jobs, Alon USA Energy Inc. recently announced it might not restart its refinery on Rosedale Highway, even as it pledged to open a controversial oil-by-train facility at the plant next year.  Bakersfield Californian article

Bay Area nears record level of employment – The Bay Area is poised to reach all-time-high levels of employment, breaking the records set at the height of the dot-com boom, as the region undergoes another technology renaissance and a reshaping of its economic landscape.  San Jose Mercury News article

Chukchansi leaders meet Saturday with members, financiers — Chukchansi tribal members gathered in Coarsegold on Saturday in hopes of assembling enough members to make decisions on behalf of the tribe, but their numbers fell short.  Fresno Bee article

Solar industry is heating up again after stumbling during recession – The solar power industry, viewed more than a decade ago as a game-changing, jobs-producing juggernaut in California, took its lumps during the recession. But now it’s coming back with a vengeance, both here and globally. Sacramento Bee article

Trajectory unknown – The ongoing saga of the Lemoore Municipal Golf Course has taken some new and interesting turns in recent weeks. Tachi Yokut tribe submitted a letter to the city on Oct. 9 offering to buy the course for $3 million. As proposed, the tribe would have paid $2 million at close of escrow and $1 million on March 1, 2020.  Hanford Sentinel article

Sacramento-area home could set record with $6.5 million listing – Real estate agent Annette Black set a record last year by selling a house in the tony Sierra Oaks neighborhood for $4.75 million. It was the most expensive home ever sold in Sacramento County. The Lyon Real Estate agent is trying to top her record. She listed a 13,000-square-foot home in neighboring Sierra Oaks Vista this week for $6.5 million.  Sacramento Bee article

Meet the acai guy of Bakersfield — Even the fit and toned have to indulge their sweet tooth every once in awhile and one Bakersfield man has found a way for them — and the rest of us — to enjoy a refreshing, cool and, yes, sweet treat without the guilt.  Bakersfield Californian article

Michael Fitzgerald: Giving the poor the steel-toed boot — On Thursday the city evicted 12 rooms of tenants from the fleabag City Motel on Wilson Way. The tenants, one a sickly lady, others with children, were blindsided by five hours’ notice to get out. Five hours to find another place? The eviction seemed a ruthless act of code enforcement, even accounting for the squalor ignored by the slumlord. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Market speaks louder than science: GMO-free animals a good business model — Megan Brown sells beef from grass-fed cows, but the Butte County rancher’s choice is motivated more by the higher price she can get for organic beef than worries about the health consequences of eating meat from cows that ate genetically modified grain.  Sacramento Bee article

Auditor recommends raising fee for sidewalk repairs in Sacramento — An auditor who reviewed the city of Sacramento’s sidewalk repair program says the city isn’t charging property owners as much as it could for repair-related services and recommends the city consider raising its fee from $40 to as much as $210. That fee doesn’t include the cost of actually repairing a sidewalk, which can cost homeowners $1,000 or much more.  Sacramento Bee article


State tracking water guzzlers – After three years of drought, it’s tough to believe anyone hasn’t heard how imperative it is to conserve water. Apparently, some folks simply aren’t listening. Now we know where the water guzzlers live. State water officials this week released city-by-city statistics showing how much water people use per day in different water districts.  Modesto Bee article

Showdown looms as California eyes pesticides — With organic food growers reporting double-digit growth in U.S. sales each year, producers are challenging a proposed California pest-management program they say enshrines a pesticide-heavy approach for decades to come, including compulsory spraying of organic crops at the state’s discretion.  AP article

Lewis Griswold: Matheny Tract waits on promised water from Tulare — Matheny Tract in Tulare County is finally hooked up to the city water system in nearby Tulare, but no water flows in the trunk line. When that day will come is anybody’s guess.  Griswold in Fresno Bee

California hydrants become targets of water thieves — Contra Costa County officials are looking at raising the fine for stealing water from $25 to $250 after residents reported seeing people tapping into fire hydrants late at night, a crime that appears to be on the rise amid California’s drought.  AP article

Stockton turf company working to create drought-resistant grasses — Delta Bluegrass is adapting to the changing climate, both business and weather. The company now offers six varieties of native grass that are said to be 50 percent less water-intensive than traditional turf. And it continues to experiment with others.  Stockton Record article

California growers seek the next home brew: Coffee — As a serious fungus threatens the crop worldwide, scientists are mapping the coffee genome to learn more about this plant. Though it’s not coffee’s natural growing environment, California is actually playing a role in the future of this most beloved and lucrative crop.  California Report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fugitive Chukchansi police chief levels corruption charge at Madera County sheriff – The Chukchansi tribal police chief who is a fugitive for his involvement in last month’s raid at the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino says he is confident he is on firm legal ground — but that Madera County Sheriff John Anderson might not be. John Oliveira said his security force retrieved a document that implicates Anderson in what he describes as public corruption.  Fresno Bee article

Loyalty questions raised when police moonlight as private guards — San Jose police officers who moonlight as private security guards for extra cash follow looser rules than cops in other big Bay Area cities, with officers always answering to the companies that hire them rather than their bosses up the chain of command.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Jeff Jardine: Reversal of fortune: How did a philanthropist become a triple-homicide suspect? —He founded the area’s March of Dimes walkathon decades ago.

He was chairman of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce board in the 1970s. He once delivered The Modesto Bee in Turlock, became an Eagle Scout and served in the Navy. And he spent several years volunteering as a docent at the McHenry Museum & Historical Society of Stanislaus County, donating some very pricey art to the cause, as well. Earlier this week, 74-year-old Robert Leon Lynch sat handcuffed in a small room deep in the bowels of the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center downtown. He wore the red- and white-striped jumpsuit of an inmate accused of homicide – three homicides to be precise, with one of the victims being an unborn child.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee


Sacramento Bee: Playing hardball with UCs puts students in the middle – California’s public universities shouldn’t have to resort to brinksmanship to get the governor’s attention. The future of higher education isn’t a game.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Ceres families seek success on Stanislaus State tour — Three busloads of Ceres families toured California State University, Stanislaus, walking the tree-lined paths and seeing opportunity around every corner.  Modesto Bee article


Modesto Irrigation District wants 3.5 percent more from electricity customers – Electricity customers would pay about 3.5 percent more under a proposal going to the Modesto Irrigation District board on Nov. 25. Staff members say the rate hike is needed to cover the district’s rising costs for producing power for 113,000 customers in Modesto and several neighboring cities and communities. Modesto Bee article

Unhealthy air forecasts continue for central San Joaquin Valley, murky air continues to hover – Fresno’s unhealthy air quality will continue Sunday as stagnant weather is expected to continue hovering over the region.  Fresno Bee article

Sandra Lamont: Yosemite entry fee hikes will keep everyday people out – The former ombudsman for the Sacramento Bee writes, “Yosemite is a grand and wonderful place, a gem that draws about 4 million people a year. But it is increasingly becoming a playground for the rich.” Lamont op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Stockton mayor floats an idea: Bring in manatees — Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva has asked state officials if Florida manatees could be imported to the Delta to graze on obnoxious water hyacinth. Stockton Record article

Will renewable energy ruin an ‘irreplaceable’ Mojave desert oasis? The federal Bureau of Land Management describes the Silurian Valley as an “undisturbed, irreplaceable, historic scenic landscape.” Now, a Spanish energy firm is proposing a wind and solar project that would cover 24 square miles of the Mojave Desert oasis.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

The biggest players in California’s nursing home industry — Five chains control about one-fifth of the state’s nursing home beds. This map shows the homes owned by those five chains.  Sacramento Bee article; ‘Untangling Shlomo Rechnitz’s nursing home empire’ in Sacramento Bee

Spray-on DNA bar codes could be new weapon against food-borne illnesses — To prevent and contain outbreaks of food-borne illness, which sicken 1 in 6 Americans annually, a Bay Area startup is developing bar codes that go directly on fruits and vegetables. But you may overlook them: they’re DNA-size.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other Areas

Lois Henry: Fireworks set to go off at Kern County meeting (sort of) – If you’re like me and feel fireworks have become a menace in this county, you’ll want to listen in on the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning. Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall will be giving a report on illegal fireworks, what’s historically been done to curb their use and possible future strategies to keep them out of the county’s skies during the Fourth of July.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Mike Klocke: Give Fugazi a chance – Random thoughts for a Sunday morning on Christina Fugazi’s election to Stockton council, the importance of voting and other issues.  Klocke column in Stockton Record

Homeless protest BART’s no-sleeping rules at Powell Station — About 30 people — armed with placards and pillows — took a symbolic nap at San Francisco’s Powell Street BART Station on Saturday to protest what they say is an illegal crackdown against homeless people sleeping inside downtown stations. San Francisco Chronicle article

Paul Loeffler: We can become Veterans Valley USA – The founder and president of Central Valley Honor Flight writes, “So many questions surround the future of Fresno. Will high-speed rail ever become a reality? What will it take to attract more tourists and conventions, transforming our city from pit stop to destination? My question: What if the key to forging a flourishing future for Fresno lies in honoring heroes from our history?”  Loeffler op-ed in Fresno Bee

Mike Stajura: Job fairs not enough for vets – The doctoral candidate at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health writes, “There is hidden value in a veteran’s resume if employers will only take the time to look.” Stajura op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Veterans find support in those who can relate — As American flags waved and families wore red, white and blue, veterans shared stories Saturday of their time at war and the community support they found when they returned to Kern County.  Bakersfield Californian article

Teddy bear drive spreads huggables countywide — A 7-year-old’s decision to give up some trappings of childhood spurred a stuffed toy drive that will comfort children across Stanislaus County.  Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California’s public universities shouldn’t have to resort to brinksmanship to get the governor’s attention. The future of higher education isn’t a game.

Sacramento Bee – California’s public universities shouldn’t have to resort to brinksmanship to get the governor’s attention. The future of higher education isn’t a game; Guns, drugs and soda pop were the real stars of the election.