October 1, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California plastic bag ban signed, setting off sweeping changes – Concluding the long odyssey of one of the most contentious bills of 2014, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed legislation phasing out the single-use plastic bags that grocery stores and other retailers use to package products at the checkout line. Brown’s assent hands a sweeping victory to environmentalists and vindicates the scores of cities and counties that have already banned bags.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleAP articleKQED reportFresno Bee articleModesto Bee article

Bill allows families to seek gun restraining order – California would become the first state to allow family members to petition judges to take away relatives’ guns if they are deemed to be dangerous under a bill facing a Tuesday deadline for action by the governor.  AP articleCapitol AlertLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Gov. Brown – Bill Signings/Vetoes

Brown signs ‘Audrie’s Law’ from Saratoga sex assault case – Gov. Jerry Brown signed “Audrie’s Law,” a bill that increases penalties and decreases privacy protections for teens convicted of sex acts on someone who is passed out from drugs or alcohol or incapable of giving consent due to a disability.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Jerry Brown vetoes childhood sex-abuse lawsuit bill – For the second year, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Tuesday to give victims more time to seek civil damages against third parties in childhood sex abuse cases – typically private or public employers of the alleged perpetrators. The Democratic governor, though, signed separate legislation increasing the criminal statute of limitations against perpetrators in such cases.  Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown vetoes political ethics bill – Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday vetoed three ethics bills passed in a legislative session colored by scandal, including one measure that would have reduced the value of gifts lobbyists may give California lawmakers and state officials.  Capitol AlertLA Times article

Governor splits on bills aiming to reduce truancy – Gov. Jerry Brown has issued a split decision on a package of bills designed to help reduce California’s dropout rate. The governor announced Tuesday that he signed two bills sought by Attorney General Kamala Harris while vetoing two others.  AP articleLA Times article

Jerry Brown signs ‘Revenge Porn 2.0 Act’ – One year after signing California’s ban on so-called “revenge porn,” Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation expanding on the bill to include “selfies,” his office announced Tuesday. Existing law makes it a misdemeanor to post private, graphic pictures or footage of someone online with the intention of humiliating them. Senate Bill 1255, by Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, expands the prohibition to include sexually explicit images that are meant to be private, regardless who created the image.  Capitol Alert

Gov. Jerry Brown signs privacy, anti-spying bills – California Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday signed several bills that address concerns about spying and privacy, including new restrictions on the paparazzi, tighter laws against “revenge porn,’’ and a prohibition on the state from helping federal intelligence agencies collect phone records without warrants.  LA Times article

Brown vetoes effort to give unions greater say on labor-dispute boards – Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have given public employee unions a greater say over who serves on the influential panels that issue decisions on labor-management disputes in L.A. city and county government.  LA Times article

Jerry Brown vetoes state pay and seniority shift-preference bills – Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed two state employee bills on Monday, including one that would have set a standard that managers and supervisors earn at least 10 percent more than the employees they manage. The other bill would have required that supervisors bid for shifts on the basis of seniority.  Sacramento Bee article

Brown signs package of assisted-living reform bills – Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law Monday a bill imposing a 100-fold increase in the top fine for violations of state regulations at assisted-living homes for the elderly. The top fine will now be $15,000, for violations causing death or serious injury, up from $150.  KQED report

Gov. Brown signs bill requiring annual child abuse reporting training – Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday requiring that all California teachers and school employees receive annual child abuse reporting training.  Contra Costa Times article

Jerry Brown signs package of psychiatric-care bills – Gov. Jerry Brown has signed four measures supported by California’s state psychiatric technicians’ union. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown signs limo safety bill after bridge tragedy – In the wake of a limousine fire on the San Mateo Bridge that trapped and killed a bride and four other women, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Tuesday that he had signed legislation requiring fire extinguishers on board and inspections by the California Highway Patrol.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Brown vetoes hospital merger bill – Facing a deadline, Gov. Brown struck down legislation to grant state Attorney General Kamala Harris more authority over nonprofit hospital mergers.  Capitol Weekly article

Jerry Brown vetoes seafood labeling bill – Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have criminalized the selling of mislabeled seafood, handing another loss to lawmakers who pursued several high-profile efforts this year to give Californians more information about what they eat and drink.  Capitol Alert

Valley politics

AD32: Analysis: Salas has the advantage in race – With drought and foreign crises dominating news coverage, local political races are having a tough time stirring up public interest. Case in point: the rematch between Rudy Salas and Pedro Rios. Heading into the last month of the campaign, Salas, who beat Rios in 2012 to win the 32nd Assembly District seat, is leveraging the power of incumbency while Rios struggles to gain traction. When they ran against each other in 2012, it was rated as a toss-up. Now, it’s Salas sitting in the driver’s seat.  Hanford Sentinel article

Bakersfield council election profile:  Police response times, development key for Weir – An accountant and former Bakersfield City School District trustee, Ken Weir takes pride in having helped keep the city solvent through the recent recession, and reducing its amount of unfunded employee pension liability.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno Judge Robert Oliver endorses Rachel Hill to take his place – Since announcing his retirement in January, Judge Robert H. Oliver said he wanted to remain neutral and not endorse any candidate in the upcoming Nov. 4 election to replace him on the Fresno County Superior Court bench. With the election six weeks away, Oliver has changed his mind and thrown his support behind Fresno attorney and adjunct law professor Rachel Hill.  Fresno Bee article

AD34: Shannon Grove: Bad policy worsens woes – The incumbent in the 34th Assembly District writes, “More than 80 percent of California is under extreme or exceptional drought conditions. Bakersfield has the worst drought conditions for an urban area in the state. And according to the farmers in my district, the water shortage during this drought has more to do with bad policy than lack of rain.” Grove op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

AD34: Mari Goodman: Separating myth from facts – The 34th Assembly District candidate writes, “The water issue is important to our residents, especially here in the San Joaquin Valley. The problem is, there are facts and fiction out there, and many just don’t have all the information. As a candidate, I can respond and make you promises of what you want me to do as your representative. It’s not always about what I think, but what my voters have brought forth to me for support.”  Goodman op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Atwater committee requested political funds be collected at police station – An independent committee that paid for political signs supporting three Atwater candidates requested donations to the group be dropped off at the Police Department inside City Hall, according to an email obtained by the Merced Sun-Star.  Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton council candidate seeks ethics ordinance – City Council candidate Gene Acevedo called Tuesday for a grand jury review of retired City Manager Bob Deis’ current working relationship with a municipal consulting firm and proposed Stockton adopt regulations that would govern similar situations in the future.  Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Debi Bray and Bob Jennings: Prop 48 will boost Central Valley’s economy – Bray, president and CEO of the Madera Chamber of Commerce, and Jennings, Northern California regional director for the State Building & Construction Trades Council of California, write, “In California, business and labor leaders don’t always see eye-to-eye on issues – but we are in complete agreement on our support for Proposition 48. Why? Because Proposition 48 is the “on switch” for a powerful, new economic engine in one of the poorest regions of the Central Valley.  Bray/Jennings op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Actors tout Tuck for schools superintendent – Marshall Tuck, the Los Angeles school-reform advocate who’s running neck and neck with incumbent Tom Torlakson for superintendent of public instruction, has added a little star power to his campaign. Tuck’s new two-and-a-half minute campaign video features actors Joel McHaleDax ShepardKristen Bell and Adam Scott sitting down with the candidate in a “strategy session.”  Political Blotter

Tuck, Torlakson debate union power, lawsuit – The two candidates for state superintendent of public instruction disagreed on the condition of K-12 education in California, the influence of teachers unions and which of them is best qualified for the job at a forum Saturday in Burlingame, the last scheduled joint appearance before the Nov. 4 election.  EdSource article

Joel Fox: School superintendent race is referendum on teachers unions – While the battle for Superintendent of Public Instruction between two Democrats is drawing attention because it is the most hotly contested statewide political race, in the end the contest may not so much depend on voters feelings about the candidates as how they feel about the power wielded by teachers unions.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Jon Fleischman: Swearengin to GOP: Unity for me but not for thee – Last weekend at their state convention, the California GOP rolled out the red carpet for Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, the GOP nominee for State Controller. The opening night’s main event was a dinner banquet profiling the “Women of the GOP” — and the plum keynote speech for that dinner was given to the charismatic Swearengin. Swearengin in talking with the press corps at that very event, created a divisive earthquake for the GOP by making it clear that she is not supporting the GOP’s nominee for Governor, Neel Kashkari.  Fleischman in Fox & Hounds

Prop 46, inspired by tragedy, pits doctors against lawyers – Troy and Alana Pack had spent the day at their neighborhood Halloween party in Danville. Ten-year-old Troy went as a baseball player, and 7-year-old Alana was a good witch. In the afternoon, they changed out of their costumes and set out for a walk with their mother down Camino Tassajara. Destination: Baskin Robbins 31 Flavors.  KQED report


Brown signs immigration reform bills into law – Governor Jerry Brown’s decision to sign three immigration reform bills into law is drawing praise from local immigration experts.  KVPR report

Other areas

From Fresno farm labor camps to possibly ‘Madam ambassador’ – Lifelong high achiever Maria Echaveste, a farmworker’s kid shaped by the central San Joaquin Valley, has now been tapped for her biggest job yet, as U.S. ambassador to Mexico. If confirmed by the Senate, the 60-year-old Echaveste would be the first woman to hold the high-profile post. She would certainly be the first ambassador to have become a D.C. insider after spending some formative time in Fresno County farm labor camps.  Fresno Bee article

Four neighborhood groups vote to oppose Sacramento ‘strong mayor’ – Members of four central city neighborhood associations have voted to oppose Measure L, the November ballot measure seeking to increase the authority of the mayor’s office.  Sacramento Bee article

California gun restraining order may deter suicide – Advocates say its greatest use actually might come not in preventing headline-grabbing murderous sprees, but in helping families deal with loved ones who are in danger of taking their own lives or who might be so angry or distraught that they could turn a gun on family members.  AP article

Joe Mathews: Mr. President, stay away from California – Your trips here have come to feel like those political fundraising emails that keep arriving this time of year. You’re spamming us, Mr. President. If you can’t do better by California on these trips, then maybe you should stop visiting.  Mathews op-ed in Sacramento Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

Historic decision looms in Stockton bankruptcy; can CalPERS pensions be reduced? – Stockton’s bankruptcy is headed to a historic ruling Wednesday, when a judge is expected to decide whether the city can reduce its payments to CalPERS and scale back the pension benefits that have been promised to city retirees and active employees. Sacramento Bee articleStockton Record articleStockton Record editorial

October begins water year with prospect of tighter restrictions –  As the state ends the fourth-driest water year on record with no guarantee of significant rain and snowfall this winter, Californians face the prospect of stricter rationing and meager irrigation deliveries for agriculture. LA Times article

Napolitano plans review of UC admissions, tuition – University of California President Janet Napolitano says she is examining whether the public college system has been admitting too many out-of-state and international students.  AP articleLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

CoreLogic: Valley foreclosure rates fall in July – Central Valley foreclosure activity continues to shine compared to the nation, according to new data from real estate statistics firm CoreLogic.  The Business Journal article

Supervisors to spend millions more on Kern Medical Center management deal – Kern County supervisors on Tuesday approved a $5 million expansion of the contract to manage Kern Medical Center, saying they have to spend money to attract talent and make the county hospital more efficient.  Bakersfield Californian article

Ceres employees’ pay could be restored – After taking a 10 percent pay cut five years ago to help the city through the recession, its employees could be getting their pay restored this winter.  Modesto Bee article

500 employees sought for new Sacramento call center – A Roseville consulting and staffing company said Tuesday that it is looking to hire more than 500 employees to staff a Covered California call center in south Sacramento.  Sacramento Bee article

Stockton tech firm signs deal with Exide – Stockton-based American Micro Detection Systems said Tuesday it has a deal to supply car battery-maker Exide Technologies with instruments to check for dissolved metals in discharge water from Exide’s U.S. recycling plants.  Stockton Record article

San Francisco court clerks authorize strike – San Francisco Superior Court clerks have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike during contract negotiations, saying court officials have $16 million in their reserve fund but refuse to offer them a raise.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Settlement reached to redevelop critical K Street block in Sacramento – After more than four years of delay, Sacramento city officials and developers appear to have a financing plan in place for a pivotal housing and retail project on downtown’s blighted 700 block of K Street.  Sacramento Bee article

San Francisco development boom swallows up historic family businesses – Some of San Francisco’s historic family-owned businesses are disappearing as fast as an artisanal ice cube in a $14 craft cocktail. While much of the change is logical and inevitable — 160 housing units is a more efficient use for scarce urban land than a two-story art-supply store — city preservationists and some elected officials are looking at ways to slow down the disappearance of so many quintessentially San Franciscan institutions amid an unprecedented real estate boom.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Skid row groups are divided over future of homeless district –- A deep divide over the future of skid row and of the thousands of homeless people living in the 50-block district’s streets and shelters emerged during a community forum in downtown Los Angeles on Monday night.  LA Times article

Database shows $3.5 billion in industry ties to doctors, hospitals – Pulling the curtain back on long-hidden industry relationships, the federal government revealed that U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals had $3.5 billion worth of financial ties with drug and medical-device makers in the last five months of 2013.  LA Times article


Farmers convince Kern supervisors to postpone ag development freeze – Kern County supervisors, feeling heat from agricultural developers in the Indian Wells Valley, postponed an emergency ordinance that would have temporarily frozen ag development in the water poor desert region. But Supervisor Mick Gleason said change is coming to the region and people need to be ready for it.  Bakersfield Californian article

Insect fight – For Art Lopez, looking for a needle in a haystack probably would be easier than his current job. In a backyard in a south Tulare neighborhood, the California Department of Food and Agriculture inspector slowly walked Tuesday morning around citrus trees, occasionally pulling on leaves and branches to get closer looks at them. Visalia Times-Delta article

IRS extends deadline for farmers forced to sell livestock due to drought – Farmers and ranchers forced to sell livestock due to the drought have an extended period of time to replace their livestock and defer tax on any gains from the sales, the Internal Revenue Service announced.  Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Data Center: California murder, violent crime rates hit 50-year low – Californians today are less likely to be murdered or fall victim to violent crime than during any other time since the 1960s, according to new figures from the California Department of Justice.  Sacramento Bee article

Grant to allow Stockton Police Department to expand – The United States Department of Justice announced Tuesday it has awarded Stockton a $1.875 million hiring grant that will allow the city to add 15 police officers over the next three years.  Stockton Record article

More than half of those killed by San Francisco police are mentally ill – Police departments in the Bay Area are beginning to implement Crisis Intervention Training, giving some officers in-depth skills in responding to calls where mental illness is a factor.  KQED report


UC Merced Connect: Boost in hiring increases scope of research – UC Merced has hired 32 faculty members for the 2014-15 academic year, giving the campus 212 tenure-track professors. The new hires are focused in areas of rapid enrollment growth, as well as having the greatest potential for interdisciplinary collaboration and research. UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star

Dan Walters Daily: California needs a new higher education plan – As the state’s three systems of public higher education converge, California needs to revisit itsmaster plan, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Teachers file grievance, say Stockton Unified not bargaining in good faith – The Stockton Teachers Association said Tuesday it has filed charges with the Public Employment Relations Board over what is alleges is “the district’s failure to bargain in good faith in a contract dispute that has been going on for approximately 36 months.” Stockton Record article

CSU Stanislaus and Modesto Junior College release crime statistics – Colleges and universities released their annual reports on campus crime to meet Wednesday’s deadline. California State University, Stanislaus, had 14 crimes reported in 2013, including one rape committed at campus housing. Modesto Junior College reported 12 crimes, including one forcible sex offense on the east campus, its first such case in at least four years.  Modesto Bee article

Modesto Junior College hopes to pilot vocational bachelor’s degrees – Modesto Junior College is poised to offer bachelor’s degrees in vocational fields under legislation signed Sunday by Gov. Jerry Brown.  Modesto Bee article

Pinedale Elementary gets national recognition – Pinedale Elementary is one of 24 California schools picked as a National Blue Ribbon school, a federal award that honors schools with high academic accomplishments or success at closing the achievement gap.  Fresno Bee article

Winton elementary school earns national Blue Ribbon award – Frank Sparkes Elementary School in Winton has been named a 2014 National Blue Ribbon Schools award winner, one of only 24 in the state and among 337 schools in the nation.  Merced Sun-Star article

Community colleges to offer 4-year degree programs – Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday approved legislation that will allow 15 state community colleges to establish and offer 4-year degree programs in vocational fields at a cost cheaper than what University of California and California State University students pay.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Modesto Junior College speech and debate team takes home Sweepstakes Award – The Modesto Junior College speech and debate team won the first place Sweepstakes Award at the Golden Gate Opener in San Francisco. MJC students accumulated the most individual points in events through the tournament, held Friday through Sunday.  Modesto Bee article

Siegfried has trust of CSU Bakersfield officials as interim AD – Kenneth “Ziggy” Siegfried had a difficult telephone call Monday night. He spoke with his mentor, Bill Lansden, the associate athletic director at Alabama-Birmingham, after Lansden was passed over for Cal State Bakersfield’s athletic director job.  Bakersfield Californian article

LA school board starts weighing Superintendent Deasy’s evaluation – The Board of Education began deliberations Tuesday on the evaluation of Supt. John Deasy, who has come under fire for his handling of a $1.3-billion effort to provide iPads to all students and for what critics call an autocratic, ineffective leadership style.  LA Times article


California senators ask DOT to expand crude by rail notifications – The U.S. Department of Transportation should expand its requirement for railroads to notify first responders of large shipments of Bakken crude oil to include other hazardous materials, California’s U.S. senators wrote Monday.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Earth Log: September storm refreshes, but it was a torrid month – In Fresno, the occasional cool breeze is no surprise in September. Neither is a little sprinkle. For me, the surprise is how good the wet, breezy weather felt on Sunday. Fresno has had nine days above 100 degrees this month. This September was on a pace to be the warmest on record, but the last several days have changed all that.  Fresno Bee article

Rain likely cause of fish killed in Yosemite Lake – Perhaps 200 fish died in Stockton’s Lake Yosemite following last week’s early-season rain, according to a report. Stockton Record article

Dan Walters: Californians with gold fever strike a legal lode – Brandon Rinehart collided with that law two years ago when he was charged with mining without a permit on a Plumas National Forest stream that he and his family had dubbed “Nugget Alley” and had dredged for many years with federal permits. Rinehart was found guilty in Plumas County when a judge rejected his assertion that federal law allowing mining on federal lands supersedes the 2009 moratorium because the latter is a de facto ban on mining, not merely a permitting law. Last week, Rinehart and other miners won a significant victory when the 3rd District Court of Appeal, based in Sacramento, unanimously overturned the trial court’s ruling on the federal law question and ordered it to rehear Rinehart’s contentions about a de facto ban and federal pre-emption.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Health/Human Services 

Covered California marks first year with millions more insured – Covered California, the state-run health insurance marketplace created by the federal Affordable Care Act, turns a year old Wednesday. During that time, more than 1.3 million Californians — far more than any other state — have enrolled in private plans, and nearly 2 million have been added to Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program.  San Francisco Chronicle article

CDC announces first U.S. case of Ebola, patient ‘critically ill’ – The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed the first Ebola case diagnosed in the United States, officials said Tuesday.  LA Times articleAP article

Wawona raises $43,000 for Children’s Hospital – Workers at Wawona Frozen Foods in Clovis Tuesday celebrated a successful fundraising drive that netted more than $43,000 for Children’s Hospital Central California.  The Business Journal article

Alameda County’s pioneering drug disposal law upheld in federal court – A federal appeals court rejected a challenge Tuesday by the pharmaceutical industry to an Alameda County ordinance, the first in the nation to require drug manufacturers to pay disposal costs for consumers’ unused medications.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Cyclists promote activity at tour stops in Winton, Planada – Eight women are cycling more than 300 miles between Fresno and Sacramento to encourage biking and walking to and from Valley schools.  Merced Sun-Star article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno supervisors seek more detailed environmental report – Fresno County officials said the county’s general plan review was a series of grammatical changes and responses to new state rules with no increase in rural land for development.Fresno County supervisors didn’t see it that way and voted to begin the process for an environmental impact report. After two hours of testimony on Tuesday, the review was roundly panned by audience members for taking about six years longer than scheduled and not having enough detail. But they were satisfied by the supervisors’ 5-0 decision to seek a more extensive environmental assessment.  Fresno Bee article


Alaska Airlines adds Fresno-to-Seattle flight – Alaska Airlines announced it has added a third daily flight to Seattle from Fresno Yosemite International Airport. The increased service from two flights to three began last month, with direct flights from Fresno to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport departing most weekdays at 6 a.m., 11:25 a.m. and 4:05 p.m.  The Business Journal articleFresno Bee article

Latest defect: Bay Bridge tower rods sitting in water – Nearly every one of the 423 steel rods that anchor the tower of the new Bay Bridge eastern span to its base has been sitting in potentially corrosive water, Caltrans officials said Tuesday — one of the most serious construction defects found yet on the $6.4 billion project.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other Areas

Lois Henry: Stupendous achievements in spay-neuter program – I don’t know what a spay/neuter crown would look like but all the folks at Critters Without Litters deserve one. As you read this, Critters will have fixed its 15,000th pet since opening its doors in October 2012.  Bakersfield Californian article

Kindergartner’s parents file wrongful-death claims against Modesto, Modesto City Schools – The parents of a Tuolumne Elementary School kindergartner struck and killed by a Modesto Area Express bus as he left the campus have filed wrongful-death claims against the city and school district.  Modesto Bee article

Harry Baker’s jail psych exam delays hearing – A hearing to determine whether Harry Baker should be released from jail in his long-running child molestation case was canceled Tuesday because he was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation by jail medical staff, a judge said.  Fresno Bee article

Steve Lopez: Death-with-dignity movement springs back to life in California – Seventeen years ago, Oregon became the first of five states to offer what became known as death with dignity. Now a renewed effort is underway to add California to the list.  Lopez column in LA Times

Stanislaus supervisors give green light to second Symbiosis festival – The date is set for a second Symbiosis Gathering and Music Festival at Woodward Reservoir regional park north of Oakdale, despite neighbors’ complaints about the first event held a year ago.  Modesto Bee article

Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo fatally show at home; wife released – Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo died Tuesday after his wife, Levette, shot him several times during a domestic dispute, Sheriff’s Department officials told The Times. Levette Crespo was questioned but was released without an arrest being made, according to the sheriff’s officials.  LA Times articleAP article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Art Moore is a fit to replace Tom McClintock in Congress.

Merced Sun-Star – Ebola has arrived – it’s time for serious action.

Modesto Bee – Ebola has arrived – it’s time for serious action.

Sacramento Bee – The Secret Service is failing to protect the president.

Stockton Record – Judge’s bankruptcy ruling will impact Stockton’s future.