October 10, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Jerry Brown preaches for Prop 2 by talking up bust during boom – Amid an economic boom, Gov. Jerry Brown is reminding voters what it felt like when California’s budget was busted, from the painful cuts to schools and public employee paychecks to the elimination of several social and health programs serving the poor.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Walters: Democratic supermajorities at risk with taxes in background – The biggest election issue this year, at least among Capitol insiders, is whether Democrats can regain their supermajority in the Senate and hold their 55-seat supermajority, now just one over the two-thirds mark, in the Assembly. The latter appears to be the more likely.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

Michael Peevey’s announced exit solves political problem for Jerry Brown – On Thursday, as critics held a news conference in San Francisco to demand his ouster, Peevey said he will not seek reappointment when his term expires at the end of the year, extricating Brown from an increasingly difficult position.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

SD14: Vidak criticized for accepting oil company money – A year ago when he was running for the job, state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, railed against a contribution by Chevron to an independent group supporting his Democratic opponent Leticia Perez. Now, its Vidak’s turn to field criticism for accepting the oil company’s help.  Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield council profile: Small government, fiscal responsibility big for Ward 4’s Titus – Joey Titus was inspired to run by his 3-year-old son Uriah, of whom he shares joint custody.  Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare council candidates stress water as top-priority resource – Five candidates seeking two Tulare City Council seats listed water, public safety and economic development as the pressing issues during a candidates’ forum Thursday night. Gangs and infrastructure also drew their comments.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Tulare school board candidates talk Common Core, more – When it comes to Tulare school board races, Phil Plascencia and Priscilla Elaine Musgrove are the only candidates not running unopposed.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Fresno Bee: Rachel Hill best candidate for judge – The Bee recommends a vote for Rachel Hill for Fresno County Superior Court Judge Seat No. 15 in the Nov. 4 election. Fresno Bee editorial

Stockton Record: Three incumbents, one newcomer deserve spots – With district teachers threatening to strike, new education guidelines to implement, and another interim superintendent in charge, four seats are open for the Stockton Unified School District Board of Trustees. Three incumbents who have supplied collective strong leadership should be kept in their posts: David Varela in Area 5, Dave Midura in Area 6 and Steve Smith in Area 7.  Stockton Record editorial

Los Banos council candidates answer questions in forum – The four candidates for two open spots on the Los Banos City Council fielded questions during the second Community Candidates Night on Tuesday at Los Banos City Hall.  Los Banos Enterprise article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Allan Zaremberg: Prop 2 will prevent boom-and-bust California budgets – The president and CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce writes, “Without a strong reserve and continued fiscal restraint, the state will face future deficits and could be forced to cut funding for schools, public safety and other critical services. Proposition 2 is our best defense against an uncertain and volatile future.” Zaremberg op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Catherine Goddard: Prop 2 will hurt local school districts – The co-founder of Educate Our State writes, “Vote “no” on Proposition 2 – a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Well-informed voters say this hypocritical rainy day fund takes away the power of our communities to save or control our revenues. ‘Let’s save mine and spend yours,’ is not fiscal responsibility.  Goddard op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Two Assembly races vital to Democrats’ bid to retain supermajority – Each is in a district where changing demographics recently transformed solidly Republican terrain into swing territory. But although Democrats may have expanded their playing field, they could be hobbled by lackluster turnout at the polls next month.  LA Times article

Lisa Green: Nothing ‘safe’ about Prop 47 – Kern County’s district attorney writes, “Proposition 47 is an initiative that will significantly reduce the criminal penalties for numerous crimes including drug possession, theft of a firearm and possession of date rape drugs. The so-called ‘Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act’ will not make our neighborhoods or our schools safer. In fact, it will achieve the opposite.” Green op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

John Myers: Prop 48: A casino precedent – or not? – Depending on whom you believe, plans for a new tribal casino alongside Highway 99 in Madera County are either a classic case of making lemonade from lemons — or just a sour deal all the way around.  Myers in KQED

Termed-out California controller turns eyes toward treasurer – Termed-out as state controller, Democrat John Chiang is playing political musical chairs by running for state treasurer and appears to be a shoo-in to win. Chiang will face Republican challenger Greg Conlon as Chiang aims to move a half-mile up the Capitol Mall and jump from one state fiscal office to another. AP article

Other areas

Tom McClintock, Art Moore debate is off – The only planned debate between Rep. Tom McClintock and fellow Republican Art Moore has been canceled after the sponsor refused to allow the congressman to designate a representative to vet the questions in advance.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters Daily: National groups waste money in California congressional races – Nothing that happens in California this November will change Republican control of the House of Representatives, Dan says. So why are national groups dumping so much money in congressional races here?  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento teachers oppose strong mayor; tourism board backs it – Three of the largest teachers unions in Sacramento announced Thursday that they are opposing the strong-mayor measure appearing on the November ballot. Meanwhile, the region’s top tourism board said it was supporting the measure.  Sacramento Bee article

GOP-backed limits on voting lead to spirited backlash from Democrats – When the Supreme Court threw out part of the Voting Rights Act last year, many predicted it would bolster Republican efforts to tighten voting procedures in advance of this fall’s election, particularly in the South. Less anticipated, however, was the robust and sometimes creative backlash that has followed from Democrats and their allies, who are launching a spirited counteroffensive that strategists say could end up benefiting party turnout on election day.  LA Times article

In Santa Monica, Obama chastises GOP on immigration, targets young voters – President Obama said Thursday that Republicans would be committing political suicide if they continued to hold up an immigration overhaul effort in Congress, leading the next generation of young people to reject the party for years to come.  LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

El Niño looking like it will be a weakling – This year’s much-anticipated El Niño is closing in, federal climate experts said Thursday, but it’s also looking weaker than ever — meaning there is little chance it will help squelch California’s drought.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Environmentalists sue to stop Kern County crude oil project – A coalition of residents and environmental groups has filed a lawsuit challenging Kern County’s approval last month of what would be the largest crude-by-rail project in the state.  Sacramento Bee articleBakersfield Californian articleKVPR report

Jobs and the Economy

Turlock sales tax measure would raise funds to repair streets – City voters will decide next month whether to pay an extra half-cent tax on purchases so residents can drive on smoother roads.  Modesto Bee article

Four-week average of unemployment claims lowest since 2006 – Average weekly unemployment claims over the last month hit an eight-year low, the government reported, in another positive sign for the labor market recovery.  LA Times article

Judge finds flaws in Sacramento’s arena review, but construction will continue – In a tentative ruling, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley largely dismissed claims brought against the $477 million project in a pair of lawsuits under the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. Frawley did identify a flaw in the city’s pre-construction environmental review, a defect relating to potential traffic problems, but city officials said the flaw was relatively minor and wouldn’t interrupt construction. Sacramento Bee article

Garcetti: It’s ‘highly likely’ NFL team will come to LA – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Thursday that a National Football League team is “highly likely” to return to the city in the next year.  LA Times article

Strike called on Golden Gate Bridge bus lines for Oct. 17 – Buses operated by the Golden Gate Transportation District will not be crossing the Bay Area’s most famous bridge next Friday as workers from the Teamsters Union Local 856 and 665, which represents dispatchers, supervisors and maintenance crews, announced a one-day strike. San Francisco Chronicle articleKQED report

One in four Americans think poor people don’t work hard enough – America’s long held infatuation with hard work might be eating into its understanding of inequality. A quarter of the country believes the most important reason inequality exists is that some people (ahem, the rich) work harder than other people (the poor), according to a new report by the Pew Research Center.  Washington Post article

‘Airbnb’ law would makes business harder for Airbnb’s chief rival – San Francisco’s new law to regulate Airbnb could hobble its chief rival’s business here, said a top executive of HomeAway, the world’s biggest vacation-home-rental service.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California wines gaining popularity in China – Eyeing China’s burgeoning middle class, California wineries are exploring how they can better tap into what’s becoming a major potential market.  Sacramento Bee article

Foster Farms CEO to step down – Ron Foster announced Thursday that he will step down as president and chief executive officer of Foster Farms, the poultry company founded by his grandparents 75 years ago.  Modesto Bee article

Stephanie Burnside: We need a chance to talk over hidden gas ‘tax’ – The former Modesto City Council member writes, “As a business owner, my costs will increase and at some point I will have to pass along that increase to my customers. The new gas tax could not only end up costing families hundreds of dollars more per year, but will cost even more for businesses in danger of losing customers and jobs due to higher prices.”  Burnside op-ed in Modesto Bee

Mobile realty app wins Modesto round in Stanislaus Innovation Challenge – Joel Gutierrez Campos of Modesto won the latest round of the Stanislaus Innovation Challenge with a mobile app that could be used in real estate deals.  Modesto Bee article


New Arvin spray park uses recirculated water, unlike Bakersfield – It’s not quite ready to open and the weather will soon be too chilly to generate much interest anyway, but the new kids’ spray park in Arvin will make use of a mild but worthwhile innovation: Unlike the spray parks managed by the Kern County and Bakersfield recreation departments, Arvin’s aqua-playgrounds will use recirculated water.  Bakersfield Californian article

Meet Doug Verboon, reluctant groundwater activist – Doug Verboon has gotten himself into an interesting position. When the first-term supervisor was elected to the Kings County Board of Supervisors four years ago, the county’s water supply looked a lot better. Now drought has pushed Verboon in a direction he couldn’t have foreseen — advocating for a groundwater management program that is deeply unpopular among local farming families who count on being able to pump the wet stuff out of the ground as necessary.  Hanford Sentinel article

Merced Irrigation District water season about to end in Merced – The irrigation season is coming to a close for growers connected to the Merced Irrigation District. The district will accept final water requests until 5 p.m. Wednesday. The irrigation season will end midnight Oct. 18, and out-of-season water will be available on a limited basis beginning the next day.  Merced Sun-Star article

Bob Keenan: Forced purchase of farmland is bad policy – The CEO of the Building Industry Association of Tulare & Kings Counties writes, “Members of the Building Industry Association of Tulare & Kings Counties believe that farmland mitigation does not recover or replace the land converted to an urban use through development. We are opposed to such a program.”  Keenan op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Criminal Justice/Prisons

San Joaquin County Jail changing pretrial release process – Aiming to keep the most dangerous offenders behind bars and allowing the more predictable ones out of jail while they await trial, San Joaquin County officials will change the way pretrial inmates are released from County Jail starting later this month.  Stockton Record article


Taxpayer funds are lifeline for more than 100 for-profit schools – More than 100 for-profit colleges are so dependent on taxpayer money that they would be violating a law designed to prevent profiteering if not for a loophole that excludes GI Bill funds and Department of Defense tuition assistance to active duty military.  Center for Investigative Reporting article

Teacher preparation enrollments plummet – Enrollments in teacher preparation programs in California are continuing to decline at a precipitous rate, according to new figures from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.  EdSource article

Lawsuit alleges discriminatory discipline in Kern high schools – Civil rights advocates filed a lawsuit Thursday against the Kern High School District saying the district used discriminatory discipline practices targeting black and Latino students.  Bakersfield Californian article

Master’s degree candidates helping school district’s program to assist homeless students – Norma Cardona just gained two valuable assets in her quest to help high school students who are homeless. Leticia De La Hoya and Vanessa Salazar are in the midst of a three-year program at California State University, Stanislaus, in Turlock to earn their master’s of social work degrees. Salazar is a native of Merced who attended local schools. De La Hoya, a Turlock resident, already is a social worker for a Merced nonprofit organization.  Merced Sun-Star article

Turlock parents of high-achieving students press for accelerated junior high math – While some complain that the Common Core math implemented this year is too hard, some Turlock parents worry it does not challenge their gifted kids enough. They have started an online petition drive asking for an honors or accelerated track for their children, starting in junior high.  Modesto Bee article

Stockton Record: Stockton Unified’s Measure E merits approval – This bond measure gets to the heart of student needs: inside the classroom. We urge its approval. Stockton Record editorial


CPUC head Michael Peevey to step down after PG&E uproar – California’s top regulator of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. — and, critics charged, the utility’s best friend in state government — is stepping aside. Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey, who came under fire for the agency’s lax regulation of PG&E before the deadly San Bruno explosion and for recent revelations of wink-and-a-nod dealings with company executives, said Thursday he would not seek reappointment when his term ends in December.  San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleSacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorial

Investigator: Dog Rock fire likely caused by vehicle – The Dog Rock fire at the edge of Yosemite National Park is believed to have been caused by a spark from a vehicle, an interagency investigation team announced late Thursday afternoon.  Fresno Bee articleMerced Sun-Star articleLA Times article

California makes changes to fracking regulations – The state of California is making some changes to its new fracking regulations based on nearly 100,000  comments from the public. This is the third version of the regulations for fracking, which injects sand, water and chemicals underground to release oil.  Capital Public Radio report

Large solar project approved by Fresno County planning commissioners – Fresno County planning commissioners on Thursday threw their support behind a massive solar project south of Tranquillity that has the backing of agriculture, environmental groups and unions.  Fresno Bee article

State grant to benefit Stockton biodiesel plant – Community Fuels will receive a $4.2 million state grant to upgrade its Stockton biodiesel plant, improving production efficiencies and allowing it to process a wider range of feedstock materials, improving the low-carbon nature of its diesel fuels.  Stockton Record article

Proposed settlement over San Onofre plant closure is revived – State regulators have proposed a revised plan for sharing the initial costs of closing the San Onofre nuclear power plant that still largely leaves ratepayers with the bulk of the $4.7-billion bill.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Fresno State student has tuberculosis; 5 instructors, 133 other students possibly exposed – Five Fresno State instructors and 133 students may have been exposed to a student who has been diagnosed with active tuberculosis, Fresno County Department of Public Health officials said Thursday.  Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta articleKVPR report

Darrell Steinberg, termed out, leaves health care legacy in California – For health care advocates, Steinberg’s presence has cast the longest shadow in the 21st century, helping advance health causes on multiple fronts — including autism care, mental health services, foster care and homeless services.  KQED report

Other Areas

Sheriff: Tribal infighting leads to abrupt Chukchansi casino closure – Patrons of Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino were abruptly ushered out of the casino in mid-game Thursday night, and the casino and hotel were apparently closed, according to patrons.  Fresno Bee article

Evaluation of Harry Baker ordered to see if he’s fit for Fresno trial – Harry Baker, a former Madera County supervisor charged with committing lewd acts with a minor, will be evaluated by a doctor to determine his competency to stand trial and assist in his own defense.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno City Council talks code enforcement, leaves action for later – The Fresno City Council on Thursday showed it can multitask with the people’s business. Council members decided they would think some more on tough issues. Then they vowed to talk some more on complex issues. Then they went home.  Fresno Bee article

City Beat: Validation, recycling, new wait staff – Opening briefs are out in the ongoing lawsuit asking a Kern County Superior Court Judge to “validate” Bakersfield’s plans to borrow millions for major highway improvements. They’re the precursor to a court date set later this month, but which will likely be postponed to November.  Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee –The Bee recommends a vote for Rachel Hill for Fresno County Superior Court Judge Seat No. 15 in the Nov. 4 election; Voters should retain three California Supreme Court justices.

Merced Sun-Star – California makes progress on train safety by inspecting railroad bridges.

Modesto Bee – California makes progress on train safety by inspecting railroad bridges.

Sacramento Bee – Michael Peevey leaves a mixed legacy as California Public Utilities Commission president; Ebola screening is a sensible and admirably timely step by U.S.

Stockton Record – Stockton Unified’s Measure E gets to the heart of student needs: inside the classroom. We urge its approval; Three incumbents who have suppliedcollective strong leadership in Stockton Unified should be kept in their posts: David Varela in Area 5, Dave Midura in Area 6 and Steve Smith in Area 7.