October 14, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

CD21: This week in 2010 in when Costa-Vidak race exploded; will history repeat itself? – While the prevailing thought is that Hanford Republican David Valadao is fairly safe in his reelection bid against Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria, there’s still some people out there casting a curious eye at the race. If something is going to happen —for instance, if outside money is going to flow into the race —it will probably be this week, given the 2010 time frame.  Fresno Bee article

Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari trade attacks over personal wealth – Neel Kashkari is unsparing in his portrayal of Jerry Brown as an out-of-touch governor who inherited millions of dollars from his father, who was also a California governor. The Democratic governor is equally merciless.  LA Times article

Valley politics

AD21: Race shaping up – Coming down the home stretch of the election for the 21st Assembly District, both the incumbent and challenger say they have high hopes. Incumbent Adam Gray, D-Merced, faces Republican challenger Jack Mobley on Election Day, with both water and jobs at the forefront of their platforms.  Merced Sun-Star article

Big money flows into San Joaquin County races – Cash, from the handfuls to the bucketloads, has been pouring into campaigns for local office in San Joaquin County. Stockton Record article

‘First Look’: Kern assessor-recorder candidates battle it out in panel – Kern County is three weeks away from elections and the Kern County Assessor-Recorder race is heating up. Monday on “First Look with Scott Cox,” candidates Jon Lifquist and Russell Johnson discussed thier ideas on what it means to be the next assessor-recorder in a panel hosted by Californian Executive Editor Robert Price.  Bakersfield Californian article

Four vie for seat as Patterson mayor –It’s been 10 years since voters here had more than two candidates to choose from for mayor. This year, there are four – including the incumbent and two City Council members with little to lose, as both are in the middle of their terms.  Modesto Bee article

Three vie for Fresno Unified Area 1 seat – Two challengers are running against Fresno Unified School District Trustee Cal Johnson in November’s election, pitching themselves as grassroots community activists who are more in touch with voters’ interests. Johnson is facing off against Golden Westside Planning Committee chairwoman Debbie Darden and at-risk teen counselor and school aide Christian Flemming to represent the southwest Fresno area.  Fresno Bee article

Blog: Silva on the crime rate: Now and then – Only hours after five people were killed in a four-hour span yesterday in Stockton, Mayor Anthony Silva used his Facebook page as a forum to accuse the current city council of soft-pedaling the city’s crime woes and to urge citizens to cast anti-incumbent votes in the election on Nov. 4.  Stockton Record blog

Atwater City Coucil and mayor candidates tout their experience – By this time next month, voters will have chosen two new members for the Atwater City Council – and possibly a new mayor. Four candidates are vying for two seats on the City Council: James Vineyard, Bill Barkman, Brian Raymond and Fernando Echevarria. Longtime Atwater Mayor Joan Faul is being challenged by Jim Price.  Merced Sun-Star article

Tulare City Council Area 2 race draws three candidates – The first race for the Tulare City Council Area 2 seat has drawn three candidates: A veteran in local political races; a relative newcomer to the area with military service experience, and an insurance agent seeking her initial public office.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Kern Community College District board candidates talk priorities – Five candidates are vying to represent a community college enrollment area that dips into most parts of Bakersfield. Nestled in the middle of four other trustee areas, Kern Community College District’s Area 1 has portions of downtown Bakersfield; a sliver of the south; and much of Oildale.  Bakersfield Californian article

Planning, safety issues for Kaweah Delta candidates – For the past 16 years Carl Anderson has sat on the board of directors for the Kaweah Delta Health Care District.Anderson, who also spent four additional years on the board in the early 1990s before being appointed back on in 1998 to replace a member who died, said he’s running for another four-year term because there’s a lot still to be done in the district, and he wants to be there to help get it done. Challenger Richard Randolph agrees a lot needs to be done in the hospital district after seeing how it operates from the inside, when he worked for two years as a security guard at Kaweah Delta Medical Center and other facilities operated by the healthcare district.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Prop 1, Prop 2 backers oversimplify wildfire costs – It is true that many local agencies reduced fire service during the recession, including with layoffs and station closures. It is also true that local governments are often affected by cutbacks at the state level. But the ad oversimplifies the connection.  Sacramento Bee article

Kashkari’s anti-Brown ad shows drowning boy – With a new TV ad that depicts a drowning boy, Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari aims to make the case that Gov. Jerry Brown has “betrayed” California children. The 30-second spot, called “Betrayal,” will start airing Tuesday in every media market in the state.  San Francisco Chronicle articleCapitol AlertLA Times articleAP article

Controller’s race gives voters a stark contrast – Facing long odds in unseating a popular governor, the California Republican Party has looked to an obscure financial post as a chance for a rising GOP star to win statewide office.  AP article

California secretary of state candidates call for borrowing measure – The two contenders for California secretary of state both want to ask voters to borrow money to pay for new voting equipment and other election modernization measures.  Capitol Alert

Tricia Stever Blattler: Farm Bureau supports Proposition 1 – The executive director of the Tulare County Farm Bureau writes, “California’s voters will have a historic opportunity this November to make an important commitment to everyone’s future food, job and economic security by voting Yes on the bond initiative now known as Proposition 1 — the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014.”  Blattler op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Lieutenant governor candidates see job’s potential – Lieutenant governor of California is a low-visibility position with few official duties, and officeholders have historically struggled to define their role in the job. Still, the incumbent and his challenger each insist the position can be influential beyond serving on the governing boards of the University of California and California State University systems, and filling in when the governor is out of state.  AP article

Prop 45: Dems split over regulating health care rates – A high-stakes ballot measure going before voters Nov. 4 has divided California Democrats, with the state party and some of its most prominent supporters on opposite sides. The initiative, Proposition 45, would empower the state’s elected insurance commissioner to approve health insurance rates.  Capitol Weekly article        

Michael Turnipseed: Prop 47 worth supporting – The executive director of KernTax writes, “No one is a fan of crime, and no one favors illicit drug use. Citizens can likewise agree that it is critically important to identify ways to improve community safety while simultaneously conserving precious taxpayers’ dollars. Proposition 47, entitled, “The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” does precisely that — which is why the Kern County Taxpayers Association supports Proposition 47.”  Turnipseed op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Oakland: $1 million plan would help child migrants who fled Central America – After months of pitching in as volunteer hosts, the predominantly Central American immigrant congregation on High Street has joined a broader coalition seeking $1 million from the Oakland City Council and Alameda County Board of Supervisors to get legal help, housing and mental health services for the children.  Oakland Tribune article

Other areas

Dan Walters: California congressional seat is a ticket to obscurity – In most states, being elected to Congress is a big political deal – a major step up the political ladder to higher office. In California, it’s pretty much a political dead end.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento Bee: California politicians would never suppress voting, but they might not count all the ballots – On Nov. 4, voters will pick Alex Padilla or Pete Peterson as the next secretary of state, replacing the termed-out incumbent Debra Bowen. Whoever wins ought to pledge to make voting more convenient, by opening polls on Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate working people who have a hard time getting to the polls on workdays. And they should promise to make sure that every vote cast is counted.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Mail may not be flashy, but it helps win campaigns – It’s a flashy, high-tech world out there, but for the consultants who run political campaigns, one of the most reliable and effective tools for communicating is actually very low-tech.  KQED report

Michael Hiltzik: A conservative judge’s devastating take on why voter ID laws are evil –  In a rational world, the debate over voter ID laws would be ended by the eloquent, incisive and angry opinion issued late last week by U.S. Circuit Judge Richard A. Posner of Chicago in a case concerning Wisconsin.  Hiltzik in LA Times

News Briefs

Top Stories

UC Merced calculates economic investment at $1.1 billion – The University of California, Merced, now in its 10th year of operation, released some numbers on Monday showing its economic impact on the San Joaquin Valley. According to a news release, citing the school’s Division of Business and Administrative Services, the campus has “directly invested more than $1.1 billion” into the local economy since startup operations got under way in July 2000.  Merced Sun-Star article

Fits and Starts:  Central Valley economy beginning to bounce back – As brutal as the Central Valley economy has fared over the last several years, it’s starting to bounce back. Our series “Fits and Starts” on California’s uneven economic recovery continues with a look at the Central Valley.  Capital Public Radio report

Jobs and the Economy

Chukchansi casino closure could last for months – The Chukchani Gold Resort & Casino, closed by a court order on Friday because of a fight between rival factions, could remain closed for months while federal officials sort out how to reopen the gaming center in Coarsegold. An Iowa case provides clues to what could happen at Chukchansi. Fresno Bee articleFresno Bee editorial

Hanford Sentinel: Measure S: Vote yes – Measure S may not be perfect, but we can’t think of another way to raise the money needed to provide Hanford with the fire and police protection that’s needed. We recommend a “yes” vote on Measure S.  Hanford Sentinel editorial

West Fresno group says more money needed for high-speed rail job training – Church and community leaders from southwest Fresno said Monday they want to see more money from the state’s high-speed rail project devoted to helping unemployed Central Valley residents get the training they need to work on the project.  Fresno Bee article

Modesto City Council to consider federal funding to help underserved – The Modesto City Council on Tuesday will consider approving two programs that would spend as much as $450,000 in federal money to improve the economic outlook of low- and moderate-income residents, according to a city report.  Modesto Bee article

San Joaquin Valley gas prices continue to tumble – Gas prices in Fresno have been sliding since the fall switch to a less-expensive blend of wintertime gasoline.  Fresno Bee article

Authorities must take time to untangle Chukchansi dispute before reopening casino – The warring factions in the Chukchansi casino dispute want the closed Madera County gambling operation opened as quickly as possible so that the 900 tribal members can receive their slices of a monthly payout totaling $1 million. But federal and state authorities who finally intervened years late in this longstanding battle over control of the casino and its profits should proceed with diligence and caution — not with their eyes on the clock.  Fresno Bee article

In Southern California, new homes are rare and costly – New home prices have soared in recent months, with the median for the six-county region peaking at $538,000 in June, according to CoreLogic DataQuick. In Orange County, the median new home price has topped $800,000. A surge in higher-end projects has pushed new home prices above their pre-recession peaks, even as prices for existing homes remain one-fifth below their bubble-era highs.  LA Times article

Joel Fox: Minimum wage truth and consequences: Who’s listening? – Let’s hope that voters become more engaged in the minimum wage debate than some elected officials.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Oakland mayoral candidates unite behind public safety tax –Five of Oakland’s leading mayoral candidates banded together Monday with a simple message to voters: Even if you weren’t happy with the city’s soon-to-expire public safety tax, please vote to revise and extend it for another decade.  Oakland Tribune article

CWA accuses SEIU local of contracting out jobs – Using strikes, protests and political hardball, Service Employees International Union Local 1021 has fought for years against efforts to contract out government jobs to workers who earn less and get fewer benefits. Now, San Francisco’s famously progressive and largest public employee union is being accused by another union of doing exactly that: contracting out jobs.  San Francisco Chronicle article

McDonald’s launches campaign to answer pink slime, other rumors – McDonald’s Corp. is taking to social media to dispel rumors that its food is unhealthy and to explain why its burgers remain intact for weeks out in the open.  LA Times article


Second Fresno water forum follows a familiar script – Fresno City Hall’s second water forum met a fate all but inevitable — it felt recycled. About 160 people showed up Monday evening at Oraze Elementary School in east-central Fresno to discuss the city’s water future.  Fresno Bee article

California farmers pray for rain, prepare for continued drought – Get a group of farmers and ranchers together and they will tell you without hesitation California’s historic drought is driving up the cost of food.  KQED report

Farmers capitalize on no-ceiling water sales – Allowing farmers to sell their shares of irrigation water on the open market proved 13 times as popular as receiving a fixed price through a program managed by the Modesto Irrigation District. Modesto Bee article

Friant’s decision, then and now – The San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Agreement, and its effect on water users in the Central Valley, was a “fork in the road” moment. The decision to settle was made by the Friant Water Authority Board of Directors in 2006. Today, many question the wisdom of that decision. To get some background on the decision, we spoke with Fergus Morrissey, engineer-manager of the Orange Cove Irrigation District.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Oakdale Irrigation District wins lawsuit after spending $368,000 on lawyers – A legal dispute with homeowners over an east Oakdale domestic water system ended up costing the Oakdale Irrigation District $368,000 in attorney fees. The Deo Gloria Estates residents lost the case and were required to cover $23,981 in court costs, but the judge spared them from paying OID’s legal bills.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Jeff Beard: Keeping drugs out of prison will help inmates and their families – The secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation writes, “It’s paramount to the safety and security of our inmates, our staff, our visitors and our communities to reduce the flow of contraband into our prisons. The goal of the enhanced policy is to make our prisons safer for both staff and inmates and give visitors a reason to say ‘no’ to smuggling drugs while helping to protect public safety by removing the currency of this dangerous underground economy.”  Beard op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Fresno State ranks 26th on new college list – Fresno State found itself high on another college list, placing 26 out of 50 universities in the West by college search and rankings website College Choice.  The Business Journal article

LA Unified tracking system for special-needs students faulted in new report – Problems with Los Angeles Unified School District’s new student tracking system led to widespread issues in identifying special-needs students and placing them in the correct programs, a report released Monday concluded.  LA Times article

California’s 529 college savings plan pulls out of Pimco fund – California’s college savings plan has joined the exodus from a bond fund run by Pimco, the troubled Newport Beach investment firm.  Sacramento Bee article

City College of San Francisco accreditation – With nearly 80,000 students, City College of San Francisco is the largest public school in California, and one of the largest in the country. The stories in this section explain how City College got in trouble, what it’s doing to survive, and who is affected.   San Francisco Chronicle article


Earth Log: Who turned up the October heat? – Had enough of the heat yet? Fresno temperatures have been above average the whole warm season – June, July, August, September and especially October. October is a whopping 8 degrees above average. The warmest October on record in Fresno was in 1933 with an average of 71.4 degrees. Right now, Fresno is averaging 77.9 with nine days above 90 degrees.  Fresno Bee article

4 Northern California faults primed for big quakes – Three fault segments running beneath Northern California and its roughly 15 million people are overdue for a major earthquake, including one section that lies near the dams and canals that supply much of the state’s water, according to a geological study published Monday.  AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Pentagon warns of challenges from climate change – Rising sea levels and other effects of climate change will pose major challenges for America’s military, including more and worse natural disasters and the threat that food and water shortages could fuel disputes and instability around the world, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday. AP article

Dan Walters Daily: PUC President Peevey had to go – Amid scandal, Michael Peevey had no choice but to end his long reign as president of the California Public Utilities Commission, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Wildlife officials capture bear No. 10 in Bakersfield area – Make it 10. At least 10. State wildlife officials sedated and hauled away a bear that had treed itself in the City in the Hills area of northeast Bakersfield Monday morning. By The Californian’s count, that makes 10 bears that have come down out of the Western Sierra of Kern County and inserted themselves into the lives of their human neighbors in the past three months.  Bakersfield Californian article

As algae problems subside, here comes hyacinth – Just when it appears Stockton is winning the fight against creeping toxic slime, it’s time for the city’s annual Halloween alien invasion. For the second year in a row, despite state officials’ efforts to control water hyacinth with herbicides as early as March, another bumper crop is now making its annual fall push into Stockton and other portions of the Delta. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services

CDC urges all U.S. hospitals to ‘think Ebola’ – The government is telling the nation’s hospitals to “think Ebola.” Every hospital must know how to diagnose Ebola in people who have been in West Africa and be ready to isolate a suspected case, Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Monday.  AP article

Hospitals rethinking precautions in wake of nurse’s Ebola infection – At the urging of federal health officials, U.S. hospitals, including some in the Bay Area, are rethinking the protocols they have in place even while assuring the public they are prepared to deal with an Ebola patient.  San Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee article

Consumer Watchdog calls for investigation of Covered California’s no-bid contracts – The group backing a health insurance rate-control measure on next month’s ballot called on Attorney General Kamala Harris on Monday to investigate millions of dollars in no-bid contracts by Covered California and reported links between the health exchange’s executives and the insurance industry.  Sacramento Bee articleAP article

Covered California to send pre-termination notices to consumers with missing paperwork – A little more than 10,000 Californians who failed to provide citizenship or immigration status verification will soon start receiving pre-termination notices for their health care coverage, Covered California officials announced Monday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Kern Medical Center update:  Revamped services, partnership in the works – Kern Medical Center CEO Russell Judd delivered a report on KMC’s general health and his team’s short-term plans to reform hospital operations. Judd said KMC is working to partner with Kern Health Systems, strengthen its clinic offerings and change its culture to focus on efficiency.  Bakersfield Californian article

Poll: Many insured remain worried about paying medical bills – They have health insurance, but still no peace of mind. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured adults say they doubt they could pay for a major unexpected illness or injury. AP article


Mom says RTD bus took off with 3-year-old autistic son aboard – Stephanie Lopez thought she was in luck. She and her five children — aged 2 to 10 years old — made it to the bus stop on Hammer Lane just in time to catch the Metro Express across town to go shopping. Stockton Record article

Other Areas

Two finalists for Modesto city manager will be revealed to public – Modesto is down to two finalists for city manager and officials plan to release their names Tuesday. Mayor Garrad Marsh said the city will reveal the names so the public can do its own research on the finalists before the City Council picks one for the job. He said that could come as soon as next week.  Modesto Bee article

George Hostetter: 6 thoughts on Chukchansi casino – Six quick thoughts on the mess at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino.  Hostetter in Fresno Bee

Steven Mayer: Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right – As Halloween fast approaches, and apples on the trees blush pink in autumn’s softening light, Bakersfield and its surrounding communities find themselves at the center of a grab-bag of bizarre stories across the interwebs.  Mayer column in Bakersfield Californian

At Maxwell’s, city officials serve dinner for 20 – City Council members took a break from constituent services and campaigning to serve dinner Monday night at T. L. Maxwell’s, where New York steak with almond pesto was the main course but gentle ribbing was enjoyed by all. The occasion was “City at Your Service,” a dinner for 20 at Ward 2 Councilman Terry Maxwell’s gourmet downtown restaurant.  Bakersfield Californian article

In the eyes of the beholders – Growing up, many of today’s parents were taught that writing on walls, especially using cans of spray paint, was wrong. But on Saturday, Suzanne Hitchcock of Visalia watched as her son chose which color spray paint he would use. Instead of painting on the side of a building, however, he would spray on a canvas set up in the back of the former lumber yard off East Oak Street and Garden Street for the annual Taste the Arts event in downtown Visalia.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Federal and state authorities who finally intervened years late in this long-standing battle over control of Chukchansi casino and its profits should proceed with diligence and caution — not with their eyes on the clock.

Hanford Sentinel – Measure S may not be perfect, but we can’t think of another way to raise the money needed to provide Hanford with the fire and police protection that’s needed. We recommend a “yes” vote on Measure S.

Merced Sun-Star – With Ebola, it will take some distance of time to know if actions today will be counted as overreaction, underreaction or just the right measures to keep us reasonably safe. We’re betting on the latter.

Modesto Bee – With Ebola, it will take some distance of time to know if actions today will be counted as overreaction, underreaction or just the right measures to keep us reasonably safe. We’re betting on the latter.

Sacramento Bee – On Nov. 4, voters will pick Alex Padilla or Pete Peterson as the next secretary of state, replacing the termed-out incumbent Debra Bowen. Whoever wins ought to pledge to make voting more convenient, by opening polls on Saturdays and Sundays to accommodate working people who have a hard time getting to the polls on workdays. And they should promise to make sure that every vote cast is counted.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: Homicides a shot to Stockton’s psyche, Mayor Silva pounces when not appropriate and other issues.