October 12, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Gov. Jerry Brown contemplates second chances in backing prison-reform measure — In 1976, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law ending an era in which California prison inmates received open-ended sentences, earning their release by convincing corrections officials that they had reformed their lives. The action shifted the state to definite sentences that let inmates know exactly when they’d go free. This fall, the Democratic governor is asking voters to reverse course, undoing some of the very prison reforms he championed 40 years ago. Sacramento Bee article 

Valley congressional delegation divided on Trump support — Now, following a leaked tape that captured Trump making crude comments about women and bragging that he could kiss them, grab their genitals and get away with it because he is a star, Valadao has reiterated his opposition to the controversial Republican presidential nominee. Besides McClintock, Tulare Republican Devin Nunes and Bakersfield Republican Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, also said they still back Trump.  Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown 

California first dog Sutter Brown critically ill — One of the most popular figures in California politics has fallen critically ill – despite having been a very good boy. Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee editorial

Valley politics 

CD 10: Denham, Eggman in rematch for seat – Two familiar names are running for a congressional seat representing the southern part of San Joaquin County, and one candidate is hoping for a different outcome this time around. Michael Eggman is seeking once again to unseat incumbent Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, for the 10th Congressional District seat. Eggman ran against Denham in 2014 but only garnered 43.9 percent of the vote. Stockton Record article 

Michael Fitzgerald: Why Anthony Silva must go – Stockton voters have one major piece of unfinished business left over from the bankruptcy, one last gotta-do so the city can move forward: ousting Mayor Anthony Silva. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

Lois Henry: Judge says he’s out.  Let’s hope so – There was a right way for former Kern County Superior Court Judge Cory Woodward to have abandoned his race for re-election. He chose the wrong way. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

Hanford City Council candidates — In the race for Hanford City Council District B, there are four candidates vying to fill the vacant slot left by the incumbent Russ Curry, who is retiring this year: Sue Sorensen, Glenda Dwyer, Parm Johal and Kalish Morrow. In the race for Hanford City Council District C, there are two candidates vying to unseat Gary Pannett, who is running for re-election: Martin Devine and Mark Cole.Hanford Sentinel article 

Los Banos cracks down on campaign signs; candidates say some stolen – Missing or stolen campaign signs have been common occurrences in Los Banos during election season, Los Banos police Cmdr. Ray Reyna said. Los Banos Enterprise article 

Phone poll calls upset Tulare hospital election — Phone calls from a Texas research firm claiming to be conducting a political poll have roiled the election of board members for the Tulare Local Healthcare District, which owns the Tulare Regional Medical Center. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Anti-Prop 53 campaign overplays disaster card in TV ad — The statements in the ad falsely imply that California regularly uses revenue bonds for emergency projects to create the sense that Proposition 53 would have a devastating effect by delaying repairs until after an election can take place. Sacramento Bee article 

Bilingual education battle revived in Prop 58 – When Palo Alto software entrepreneur Ron Unz led a campaign to ban bilingual education 18 years ago, California erupted in an acrimonious debate that drew national attention, with proponents expressing fears about the decline of English and opponents charging racism and predicting an educational Armageddon. But today, in a sign of the Golden State’s dramatically changing demographics and politics, the campaign to roll back the “English-only” Proposition 227 seems low-key and uncontroversial, overshadowed by a bevy of hot-button ballot initiatives and the emotionally charged presidential race. San Jose Mercury News article 

Joel Fox: The billionaire ballot props election — Let’s look at this year’s ballot propositions as the Billionaire’s Election. While its not unheard of for the very rich to indulge in politics, no less than four of the 17 ballot measures have billionaire backers whose dollars helped get the propositions on the ballot. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Potent brew: Hollywood and political cash — Hollywood and Sacramento are not cities that normally leap into our thoughts at the same time. Sacramento is leafy streets and politics and scorching heat. Hollywood is, well, Hollywood. Nonetheless, there are important and longtime associations, and they go ‘way beyond Democratic campaign consultants thinking wistfully of George Clooney. Capitol Weekly article 

Prop 54 would bring new transparency rules to Legislature – Proposition 54 is being touted by supporters as a way to bring more transparency to  the state Legislature. It would generally require a bill to be in print for 72 hours before it can be passed. Critics say the waiting period would be exploited by lobbyists and special interest groups to kill bills they don’t like. KQED report 

Prop 55: Initiative to extend income tax increases to benefit schools — Californians are being asked to extend for a dozen years a slightly modified version of the tax, generating roughly the same amount of revenue, depending on economic conditions, under a new name, Proposition 55.  EdSource article 

Prop 58 would restore bilingual education in California.  But is the issue ‘buried and forgotten?’ – Opponents of the measure, most notably Silicon Valley multimillionaire Ron Unz, who wrote the original English-only Proposition 227 in 1998, contend there is nothing to fix with the current system, saying the debate over bilingual education has long been “dead and forgotten.” But supporters argue the bureaucratic red tape on bilingual and multilingual education is harmful to students in a global economy, where the most-sought-after employees speak more than one language. LA Times article 

Nan Austin: Prop 58 cuts red for teaching languages – Among the 17 propositions Californians may be looking at and scratching their heads over is Proposition 58, the LEARN Initiative, which ends a mandate to always teach in English in favor of local control and figuring out what works. Austin in Modesto Bee 

Kathy Dennis: Prop 61 will help reduce outrageous prescription drug prices – The Sacramento registered nurse and board member of the California Nurses Association writes, “Drug company arguments boil down to a scare tactic, threatening to raise the prices for needed medications even more if Proposition 61 passes. But federal law caps the amount veterans can pay, and they’d need major insurers to agree to other ransom-like price hikes. We can’t count on our lawmakers to act, but the people can. For our children, for our families, let’s tell Big Pharma, we’ve had enough. Dennis op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Don Harper: Prop 61 will backfire, especially against veterans – The legislative committee chairman of the American Legion in California writes, “Proposition 61 contains no guidance on how it will work in the real world. It would result in more government red tape and lawsuits as state agencies struggle to implement it, costing taxpayers millions. Proposition 61 is opposed by the California Taxpayers Association.” Harper op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

If Loretta Sanchez was part of immigration talks with President Obama as she claims, she was (very) behind the scenes – Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez hasn’t been in the public eye on national immigration policy in the same way as her Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ Immigration and Border Security Task Force co-chairman Rep. Luis Gutierrez. So it was a bit surprising when during Wednesday’s Senate debate with Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, Sanchez said she was front and center in drafting a plan to defer deportation for millions of people brought to the country illegally as children or defer deportation for parents of U.S. citizens. LA Times article 

California election site photo makes the web rounds — The upbeat young people at the center of the California Secretary of State’s home page dovetails with the office’s current push to increase voter registration and Nov. 8 turnout among college students. But from peanut promotion to international travel on the cheap, the three men and four women in the image exist well beyond California’s election headquarters. They are part of a stock image – one photo vendor site characterizes it as “teenagers young team together cheerful concept” – that shows up in many other web pages. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

National Anthem singer says taking a knee at Kings game was patriotic – The national anthem singer at the Sacramento Kings preseason game on Monday drew criticism and praise on social media after she decided to kneel during the performance.  Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics 

List: Which California Republicans are supporting Donald Trump – While two California Republicans in high-profile congressional races jumped off the Trump train in the wake of the video release, a KQED News survey of GOP lawmakers in the state finds that many Republicans remain on board with their party’s nominee. Others have never endorsed Trump and surely will not now. KQED report

News Stories

Top Stories

High-speed rail agency delays decision on Fresno station design — A decision on consultants to design a high-speed rail passenger station in Fresno, as well as a statewide operations center in the San Joaquin Valley, is being pushed off by the California High-Speed Rail Authority. Fresno Bee article 

Will Merced County support new sales tax to fix local roads – Advocates for a half-cent sales tax to improve roads say they’re struggling to sell the importance of becoming a so-called “self-help” county. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy 

What’s ahead for LA business in the coming week — Lynda and Stewart Resnick want their Wonderful Co. to produce more than pomegranates and pistachios. The $4 billion agricultural company, whose portfolio includes POM Wonderful pomegranates, Fiji Water, and floral delivery service Teleflora, is hoping to convince other companies to follow its lead in creating a high school program to develop skilled workers at a symposium Oct. 13 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. LA Business Journal article

Westlands farmers major contributors to Valley economy, report says – Westland Water District’s farmers generated $3.6 billion in economic activity and created 29,000 jobs, according to a recent economic analysis commissioned by the district. Fresno Bee article

Fresno County trying to stem health insurance hikes for workers – Fresno County supervisors must spend millions more to make their employees whole by sharing in the costs of their health insurance plans, but that cost ultimately will end up being paid by both taxpayers and the county’s workforce. Fresno Bee article 

Patty Guerra: Holiday season brings more jobs – With my background in retail, of course I was aware that the holiday seasonal hiring season has started – I wrote about it last month. But it’s not just the people who sell electronics, toys and such who are gearing up for their busy season. My colleague John Holland, who writes about all things agriculture for The Modesto Bee, confirmed that turkey processing season is about to kick into high gear – Thanksgiving being just around the corner. Guerra in Modesto Bee (scroll to item) 

Tackling hunger’s unseen toll in San Joaquin County – In San Joaquin County, 46 percent of low-income households in 2014 reported being food insecure, said Elvira Ramirez, chairwoman of the Hunger Task Force for San Joaquin, which hosted the summit. There are many implications with the issue of food insecurities, which is why it’s important for the community to understand the challenges and importance of the issue, she said. Stockton Record article 

How California’s ‘paid family leave’ law buys time for new parents – Back in 2002, California passed a law that provides paid family leave benefits to eligible workers. In many ways, the law mimicked paid parental leave policies that are in effect in nearly every other country in the world. But it was the first of its kind in the U.S., and several other states have since followed suit. Here’s how California’s law, part of the state’s disability insurance program, works: Most workers in the state have small deductions (less than 1 percent of their wages) withheld from each paycheck. NPR report 

This city is 78 percent Latino, and the face of a new California – These days, Santa Ana stands as the face of a new California, a state where Latinos have more influence in everyday life — electorally, culturally and demographically — than almost anywhere else in the country. There are limits to the transformation here, both in economics, where Latinos still lag far behind the state as a whole, and in politics, where remarkable gains in Latino power have not yet translated to the most powerful statewide offices. But the Latino progress in this state offers a glimpse of how much of the country will probably look in coming decades. New York Times article 

Dan Walters: LA ‘summit’ focuses on California’ acute housing crisis – Finally, some folks are having an existential crisis about a housing shortage that could send the state into a socioeconomic death spiral.Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento cutting ties with Wells Fargo after fraudulent account scheme – Sacramento’s interim city treasurer has been cutting ties with Wells Fargo ever since the bank was outed last month for opening 2 million unauthorized consumer accounts. Sacramento Bee article

Steak ‘n Shake coming to Fresno, cult following expected to freak out — Fresno is getting the Valley’s first Steak ‘n Shake. The chain is hugely popular in the Midwest and other parts of the country, with many media outlets describing the restaurant as having a cult following. The Steak ‘n Shake is under construction on Kings Canyon Road in front of the WalmartSupercenter near Peach Avenue. Fresno Bee article

Gas prices climb in Fresno and California as supply tightens amid shift to winter blends – California has the second-highest gas prices in the country, with Fresno at an average of $2.77 a gallon for unleaded, according to AAA of Northern California’s monthly gas price report. Prices in the Fresno area climbed 7 cents in the past month. The city is on par with California as a whole, which saw prices rise 6 cents to $2.79 a gallon. Only Hawaii has higher prices at $2.84. Fresno Bee article 

Wholesale gasoline prices surge after power outage shuts down Torrance refinery – Wholesale gasoline prices jumped Tuesday and consumers could see higher prices at the pump after a South Bay power outage forced a Torrance fuel refinery to shut down. LA Times article 

Fresno recycling company pays back wages to homeless workers – Buy Back, a Fresno recycling company, has paid more than $30,000 in back wages and damages to six homeless workers after failing to pay them the federal minimum wage and violating record-keeping rules. Fresno Bee article

Amazon plans to open convenience stores and curbside pickup for groceries, according to report — For years now, Amazon has been expanding its services, introducing e-book readers, tablets, same-day delivery and smart speakers. But according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, the commerce giant is about to take another huge step into unfamiliar territory: groceries. McClatchy Newspapers article


Ag hit hard in 2015 by lower milk, almond prices — Agricultural commodities in Merced County grossed nearly 19 percent less in 2015 than in the previous year due to drought and low prices for milk and almonds, the county’s newly published crop report shows. In total, Merced County grossed more than $3.5 billion in agriculture, according to the report, published last week. Merced Sun-Star article 

Climate legislation an opportunity for dairy digesters, but hurdles remain — A few weeks ago we told you about concerns within the dairy industry following the state’s most recent climate legislation. The new laws require livestock producers to cut methane emissions from manure by almost half before the year 2030. It seems a tall task, but a kind of facility that’s popular in Europe could help the California dairy industry meet those goals—if only it were easier to build here. FM89’s Kerry Klein brings us to Tulare County with more. KQED report

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram sent feeds that helped police track minority protectors, report says — A powerful surveillance program that police used for tracking racially charged protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, relied on special feeds of user data provided by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, according to an ACLU blog post published Tuesday. Washington Post article

Sacramento police commission leader resigns, says panel ‘not relevant’ — The head of the Sacramento Community Police Commission resigned Tuesday, saying the board was “not relevant” in the aftermath of a July police shooting of a mentally ill man in North Sacramento. Sacramento Bee article 

Fatal Sacramento police shooting heads to internal affairs review – The Sacramento Police Department decided Tuesday to conduct an internal affairs review of the July police shooting of a mentally ill man in North Sacramento. Sacramento Bee article 

Ground broken for park named after fallen officer – His parents, boss and numerous co-workers joined a crowd of more than 150 Williams Elementary School students and local officials on Tuesday to break ground on the Officer David Nelson Pocket Park, on a vacant lot where the fallen Bakersfield Police Department member once patrolled. Bakersfield Californian article 

Sacramento County paying $200,000 in third lawsuit involving flashlight-wielding deputy – For the third time in six years, Sacramento County has paid thousands of dollars to settle a lawsuit against one of its deputies over a beating he allegedly administered with his flashlight. Sacramento Bee article 

LA police commission approves proposals to increase transparency, training for how LAPD officers use force — The Los Angeles Police Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved significant changes in the way the LAPD handles shootings by officers, directing the department to release information to the public more quickly and expand training designed to reduce the number of shootings. LA Times article 

Can a 14-year-old convicted of first-degree murder rehabilitate himself? — One night in 2009, in his hometown of Watsonville, California, Daniel Mendoza and his friends got into a fight with an older man. The group ended up killing the man. “It was only after the fact that I sat down in my room and just kind of couldn’t believe what I had done,” Mendoza says. KQED report


School bond measures on November ballot — In Kings County, there are six school bond measures on the November ballot with money to be used for school improvement projects if passed by 55 percent of voters.Hanford Sentinel article 

J.P. Lake: Measure J is of paramount importance – The chairman of the board of a private school write, “As a native of Bakersfield and a fourth-generation family business owner, I am writing to express my full support of the Kern Community College District’s bond proposal, Measure J, and to underscore the significance of Measure J on local educational and workforce development. Lake op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Visalia Unified School Board denies charter school expansion – Sycamore Valley Academy won’t expand to include a second school site, Blue Oak Academy. Visalia Unified School Board members voted unanimously to deny the charter petition for the new school at their regular board meeting Tuesday night. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Visalia high school drops mandatory weight training for athletes — Under pressure from parents, El Diamante High School has dropped the mandatory weight training and conditioning class taken by student-athletes. Fresno Bee article 

School-based gives K-12 students a true outdoor classroom experience — On a 40-acre school site in southeast Fresno sits a little-known farm that is inspiring minds and growing healthful food. Launched two years ago on the Fresno Adventist Academy campus, Harvest Fields Organic Farm is a 13-acre operation producing navel oranges, vegetables and a variety of herbs. It’s also home to a flock of 130 pasture-fed chickens and four greenhouses. Fresno Bee article 

Sacramento districts struggle to find space for more preschoolers — Shelly Potter sat in a circle of 4-year-old children Tuesday clapping her hands and shaking a tambourine. Potter and her preschool class are recent additions to Natomas Park Elementary School. New state funds allowed Natomas Unified to double the number of half-day preschool classes to eight – a total of 100 new seats – for this school year, district spokesman Jim Sanders said. Sacramento Bee article


Federal approval paves way for low-cost cellulosic ethanol production – In a first-of-its-kind ruling, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved Pacific Ethanol’s registration of its Stockton ethanol plant to generate valuable credits by producing cellulosic ethanol with the same equipment the company uses to produce corn-based ethanol. The Business Journal article

Health/Human Services 

A tale of two hospitals shows the challenges of increasing access to mental health care — Sometimes in public policy, especially in health care, most everyone agrees there is an obvious problem. But more often than not, getting everyone to agree on a solution is much harder. That’s what is happening right now when it comes to access to mental health care in the Central Valley and two mental health facilities are showing that gap in a stark way. KVPR report 

Marjaree Mason Center introduces video conferencing to rural areas — Rural Fresno County residents now have an easier way to receive domestic violence assistance, the Marjaree Mason Center announced. The center, along with Fresno County Superior Court, is now offering free videoconferencing from the B.F. Sisk courthouse to two secure locations in Firebaugh and Reedley. For safety reasons, the secure locations are only revealed to those who make appointments, the center said. Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing


Will a roundabout cure traffic problems in Yosemite Valley? – This year Yosemite National Park is on pace to have four and a half million visitors. That would be an all-time record. All those people mean a lot of traffic in a place known for its serenity.  And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the Park Service is in the process of making changes so visitors won’t have to often wait in what feels like rush hour traffic in the middle of the forest. KVPR report 

Faster security ‘innovation lanes’ to open at LAX — Air travelers who can’t stand waiting in line will get some relief when Los Angeles International Airport opens its first two “innovation lanes” designed to speed security screening by up to 30%. LA Times article

Other areas 

San Joaquin County supervisors send back meeting decorum policy for more work — The decision to adopt new rules preventing major outbursts from disrupting San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors meetings has been delayed until language regarding demonstrations is clarified. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup 

Fresno Bee – The proposed $9 billion school bond would make no changes to the nearly 20-year-old formula for allocating construction funds. Demographers believe public school enrollment will be flat in the coming years.

Sacramento Bee – Pausing to thank and recall our dogs; While Congress fiddles, wildfire ravaged California burns.