October 10, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Dan Walters: Two county redistricting reform bills move in opposite directions — Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 1108 on Sept. 28, allowing counties and cities without charters to appoint independent commissions to adjust the boundaries of governing board districts after every federal census. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

If Prop 55 passes, the state budget will rely even more on California’s highest earners — If voters approve Proposition 55, the state will continue depending on Taybi and other wealthy Californians to fund a significant portion of schools, parks, road repairs, police, prisons and many other government services. Those paying the higher rates, which kick in for single and joint filers making more than $263,000 and $526,000 a year respectively, contributed almost $34 billion in income taxes in 2014, roughly a third of all state general fund revenue.  LA Times article

Valley politics

Fresno Unified superintendent a focus of school board election – While the Fresno Unified school board election will bring only two new faces to the seven-member board, it could mean big change for the district. Fresno Bee article

Sample ballots coming to a mailbox near you — Election Day is a less than a month away, and important voter information will be mailed soon to residents. Sample ballots for the Nov. 8 election should be arriving in mailboxes this week, according to San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters Austin Erdman. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Proposition 55: How taxing the wealthy could support public education – California is a state that both mints millionaires and relies heavily on taxing them to fund its education and provide basic state government services. Both of those Californias feature in Proposition 55, which asks voters to extend higher income tax rates they passed four years ago on the wealthiest residents for another 12 years. Most of the money would fund public schools, though the Medi-Cal insurance program for the poor also would benefit, as would the state’s financial emergency fund. AP article

Proposition 57: California weighs earlier release for some prisoners – For the third time in four years, California voters are being asked to approve an initiative that would soften the state’s tough-on-crime laws — this time by allowing prison inmates to seek parole earlier. San Jose Mercury News article

Ad for legalizing marijuana sticks to the facts — For the first time since their recreational marijuana legalization push began, Proposition 64 advocates are running statewide television spots. Sacramento Bee article 

George Skelton: Few are paying attention to California’s Senate contest – because it may be putting them to sleep — California’s U.S. Senate race should be stimulating voters. Instead, it’s making them snooze. The contest is for the most coveted elective office the state is offering this year. It’s at the top of the state ticket. The winner will replace retiring DemocratBarbara Boxer. But it’s drawing all the interest of a mosquito abatement board seat. Skelton column in LA Times 

Spending big on sex and drug initiatives, AIDS activist Michael Weinstein says he ‘can’t lose’ — Weinstein is the brain behind two measures that Californians will decide on in less than a month. In addition to the drug-price initiative, he’s put forward Proposition 60, which would require condoms in porn production. In Los Angeles, where “mega-development” is redrawing the skyline, he’s provoking the establishment with a March 2017 ballot proposal to impose a two-year moratorium on projects that require changes in city rules. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Steinberg is already running Sacramento — The guy running Sacramento has spent the past several weeks driving key personnel and policy decisions at City Hall, attending ribbon cuttings and attempting to place his signature on a massive public project downtown. No, it isn’t Kevin Johnson. Darrell Steinberg is “mayor-elect” of Sacramento in title only. There are times when Steinberg acts like the mayor of Sacramento. And then there are times when he’s treated like the mayor – even if he doesn’t get sworn in until December. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Can Trump turn Central Valley blue? — Until the end of September, it appeared that Emilio Huerta, an attorney and the son of United Farm Workers icon Dolores Huerta, was working in vain to defeat the popular incumbent Republican, David Valadao, in California’s poorest and most agricultural congressional district, the 21st. But Donald Trump’s disastrous performance in the first presidential debate on Sept. 26 has given fresh hope to Huerta and other Democrats in swing districts here in the Central Valley and across the country. San Jose Mercury News article 

Cathleen Decker: With a middling performance, Trump remains a candidate facing an uphill climb – Donald Trump had a deep hole to climb out of Sunday in the  second presidential debate, one he’d dug with a succession of self-generated controversies that culminated Friday in the release of a 2005 video in which he bragged about groping women. It was perhaps an impossibly deep hole, and Trump did not succeed in climbing out. Decker in LA Times 

Trump declares war on GOP ‘hypocrites’ – Donald Trump lashed out Sunday at fellow Republicans who are turning on him, either by urging him to step down as their nominee for president or by dropping their support for him. McClatchy Newspapers article

News Stories

Top Stories

Building plans sought for Fresno high-speed rail station — Fresno leaders are pinning at least part of their hopes for the revitalization of the city’s downtown on an economic boost from one of the first passenger stations on California’s planned high-speed train system. This week, the California High-Speed Rail Authority is expected to begin its search for engineering and architectural consultants to draw up plans for that station, as well as for a statewide operations control center that will be located somewhere in the San Joaquin Valley. Fresno Bee article

California must wait for federal decision on private prisons – California lawmakers will have to wait until next year to curb the use of private prisons to hold thousands of immigrants awaiting federal deportation hearings. About 3,700 immigrants under federal detention orders are being held in corporate-owned prisons under contracts with four California cities: Bakersfield, San Diego, Adelanto (San Bernardino County) and Calexico (Imperial County).  San Francisco Chronicle article

Jobs and the Economy 

Ruling challenges prevailing view of pension law – Three appeals court justices, citing the alarming view of critics that unaffordable public pensions are headed for the financial cliff, looked for a new way to allow a change in direction and found one. Calpensions article

Brianna Calix: Merced retail, construction and development update – Lately, I’ve received a fat stack of questions about retail, construction and economic development. So, I’m going to give what answers I can to most of them here. Let’s get to it. Calix in Merced Sun-Star

Kingsburg restores historic train depot — After a 30-year wait, Kingsburg has finally completed the restoration of its 1923 railroad depot, which will now be used as a museum, learning center and for private events. Fresno Bee article 

Amid swelling homelessness, Santa Ana turns an old bus terminal into a shelter — The shelter is a partial response to a swelling homeless problem in the city that houses most of Orange County’s administrative and government offices. The Board of Supervisors also has given the go-ahead to build the county’s first year-round homeless shelter in Anaheim, with construction expected to be completed by late 2017. LA Times article 

San Diego mayor hires staff member to focus on homelessness — Mayor Kevin Faulconer has hired a longtime public relations professional and former Clinton White House staff member to help address San Diego’s homeless problem. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Man barking and threatening traffic is shot by Fresno officer — A man armed with a knife and barking at traffic was taken to Community Regional Medical Center after he was shot twice by a police officer in central Fresno Sunday. Fresno Bee article

Coffee with a Cop brings community together — Trust between law enforcement and residents is the foundation to a healthy and safe community. To help bridge the gap, Visalia Police Department joined the national campaign, “Coffee with a Cop.” Visalia Times-Delta article


Enrollment at Fresno Pacific University rises — New student enrollment at Fresno Pacific University in southeast Fresno is growing. Although enrollment overall is down 66 students since 2015, undergraduate, bachelor’s degree completion and graduate study programs have increased and hold a total of 3,520 students. Officials believe the enrollment decrease is due to the expansion of other colleges. Fresno Bee article

East Bay community college district may have skirted conflict-of-interest rules — Peralta Community College District officials apparently broke conflict-of-interest and contract-bidding laws by paying an information technology consultant more than $800,000 to perform the very work he recommended, without seeking outside bids. East Bay Times article

LA Unified backs down and agrees to provide lifetime benefits to charter school teachers — The Los Angeles school district and a well-known charter school have quietly resolved a conflict in a way that will help a group of employees but deepen the district’s long-term budget deficit. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Off-road park expansion nears approval – State officials are close to crossing the finish line on the controversial expansion of an off-highway vehicle park in the hills southwest of Tracy. Stockton Record article


Costly fix will smooth ride over Turlock tracks — Shoppers and commuters traveling Monte Vista Avenue have spent weeks jostling over the railroad tracks at its eight-lane intersection with Golden State Boulevard. But a more mellow crossing is coming, hopefully giving Turlock drivers one more thing to give thanks for in late November. Modesto Bee article

What happened to that traffic jam Golden 1 Center was going to cause downtown? —I went looking for trouble in downtown Sacramento last week and failed to find it. More than 15,000 people descended on the Golden 1 Center area, sang along with Paul McCartney, then left. No traffic jam. No carmageddon. A number of them said they were surprised at how easy it all was. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – If California is to hold onto the historic strides it has made in saving water, the water conservation mandate should be restored.

Sacramento Bee – Donald Trump was somewhat more composed Sunday night than in the first debate, but he still interrupted, offered sophomoric solutions, and lashed out like a cornered and wounded animal.Ocot