October 16, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Incumbents out-raising challengers in three hot House races in state – Incumbents have out-raised challengers in at least three hot congressional races in California, reports filed tonight with the Federal Election Commission show. In a Central Valley race, the fundraising of Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) outpaced that of Democratic challenger Amanda Renteria, nearly $2.6 million to $1.4 million. He also reported having more than twice as much cash on hand as she did at the end of the reporting period. LA Times article

Historic drought is backdrop for water bond vote – Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers are hoping California’s worsening drought persuades voters to approve borrowing billions of dollars for new water projects, treatment systems and conservation measures.  AP article

Valley politics

Merced County supervisor candidates remind voters of pressing topics – With less than a month left before elections, Tony Dossetti and Daron McDaniel, the two candidates running for Merced County Board of Supervisors District 3 seat, are gearing up to finish strong in what they have both called a clean race.  Merced Sun-Star article

Measure C: Charter changes a hot Stockton topic going forward – On vote-by-mail ballots in the coming weeks, and in voting booths on Nov. 4, Stockton residents will be making key decisions on three election campaigns that will determine the makeup of the City Council for the next four years. Perhaps largely unnoticed amid the campaign rhetoric is Measure C, which proposes a variety of changes to Stockton’s charter, the city’s governing document.  Stockton Record article

‘First Look’: Bakersfield council candidate Titus concerned about Centennial Corridor, spending – Joseph Titus is one of four candidates running in the Nov. 4 election for the Bakersfield City Council Ward 4 position. The loan officer and real estate agent said he has questions for the city about how it plans to spend money, and the answers are vague. For example, Titus would like the city to slow down the Centennial Corridor project.  Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield Californian: Keep Miller, Williams on Kern High School District board – Voters can replace two members of the Kern High School District board of trustees next month or they can maintain the stabilizing course those two incumbents have helped establish and retain them. The Californian strongly urges voters to retain them. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Stockton Record: Water bond ‘something’ to approve – Right now, California needs the type of help that will be available with this water bond. It’s not a panacea — far from it, in fact. But to do nothing would be negligent. And short-sighted.  Stockton Record editorial

Sacramento Bee: Kashkari flails as campaign goes under – For a while now, Neel Kashkari has been all but screaming “Mayday” in his losing battle to unseat Jerry Brown. Still, his latest ad, forcing us all to watch a child’s near-drowning, offers another reminder of how far a campaign can fall.  Sacramento Bee editorial

5 over-the-top California political ads (including Neel Kashkari’s drowning kid) – Whether you support Jerry Brown or not, or whether you like Kashkari or not, you may be wondering what he’s alluding to when he accuses Brown of betraying children “to protect his donors.”  California Report

Supermajority fight shapes California legislative races – The California governor’s race and statewide ballot measures may claim most of the spotlight this election season. But below the radar, a handful of pivotal legislative races could shift the balance of power at the state Capitol.  Capital Public Radio report

George Skelton: Insurers’ spending against Prop 45 tips scales in its favor – The insurance industry is pouring barrels of money — $43 million the last time I looked — into the campaign to defeat Prop. 45. That tells me the insurers fear losing profits. And it indicates that policy buyers could gain in their pocketbooks.  Skelton column in LA Times

Allan Hoffenblum:  Weekly Update, What’s Hot! – Entering the last three weeks of Campaign 2014, I’ll post a weekly piece updating readers on the week’s latest campaign news. AD21 race between Adam Gray and Jack Mobley featured.  Hoffenblum in Fox & Hounds

Scott Lay: The turnout conundrum – So, we start with a baseline of 39.27%, and then the question becomes whether other voters are stirred up enough to turn out. My bet is in the mid-40% range, which would set a record of a low for a gubernatorial election. Is there a partisan impact of super-low turnout? That’s unlikely, as I believe the bar rises and falls equally in an election like this. Sure, it could affect some of the toss-up legislative races, but it’s unlikely to significantly affect the top of the statewides.  Lay in Fox & Hounds

Kamala Harris hits the airwaves – California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who is expected to sweep to reelection next month, is launching two television ads Wednesday that highlight her tenure as the state’s top law enforcement officer and her efforts to combat school truancy.  LA Times article

Marijuana an issue in state attorney general race – A Republican fighting to unseat California’s incumbent attorney general has adopted the unconventional strategy of seeking to legalize recreational marijuana as the centerpiece of his uphill campaign.  AP article

Fresno Unified leader Michael Hanson endorses Marshall Tuck for state superintendent – Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson has thrown his support behind state schools superintendent candidate Marshall Tuck, who is looking to unseat fellow Democrat and incumbent Tom Torlakson in the November election.  Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Dan Walters: Steinberg’s legacy a mixed bag – Darrell Steinberg has been the most policy-minded legislative leader since Leo McCarthy, notwithstanding the fact that his last year has been marred by multiple scandals.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Kevin de León becomes state Senate leader in $50,000 event –  In an elaborate event at Walt Disney Concert Hall featuring mariachis, a Korean drum circle and a student color guard, Democrat Kevin de León was sworn in Wednesday as leader of the state Senate — the first Latino to hold the post since 1883.  LA Times article

Dan Morain: Dennis Kucinich really likes Tom McClintock – Former Rep. Dennis Kucinich, perhaps the most leftist member of Congress during his day, offered a testimonial today for one of the most conservative members, Rep. Tom McClintock.  Morain in Sacramento Bee

Kaplan holds lead in Oakland mayor case, Schaaf surges to second – Rebecca Kaplan has a commanding lead in Oakland’s mayoral race, but support for her rival Libby Schaaf is on the rise, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.   San Francisco Chronicle article

White House will put Armenian rug on display next month – The White House confirmed Wednesday that it will display the Armenian Orphan Rug, also known as the Ghazir Rug, as part of an exhibit at the White House Visitors Center.  Fresno Bee article

News Briefs

Top Stories

State Supreme Court won’t take up Kings County high-speed rail challenge – The state Supreme Court decided Wednesday that it will not take up the challenge to high-speed rail funding sought by opponents in Kings County. By closing the case Wednesday, the Supreme Court essentially made the judicial score 2-1 against Kings County farmer John Tos, Hanford homeowner Aaron Fukuda and the Kings County Board of Supervisors.  Fresno Bee articleLA Times articleSacramento Bee articleAP articleHanford Sentinel articleCapital Public Radio report

California health officials seek to assure public amid Ebola scare – California’s top health officials tried to assure an increasingly nervous public on Wednesday that they are ramping up readiness to fight the deadly Ebola virus, including seeking screening at all of the state’s international airports.  Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Jobs and the Economy

Chukchansi casino to remain closed at least another couple weeks, judge rules – Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, shut down amid a sometimes violent breakdown in tribal leadership, will remain closed for at least a couple more weeks, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.  Fresno Bee articleFresno Bee editorialGeorge Hostetter in Fresno Bee

Chukchansi workers can seek jobless benefits as county awaits casino’s fate – Chukchansi employees, caught in a rift between tribal factions that forced one of Madera County’s largest private employers to close, can apply for job retraining or unemployment benefits as they wait to hear when the casino might reopen.  Fresno Bee article

Federal court hearing marks low point for Chukchansi – Standing outside the federal courthouse in Fresno, one Chukchansi woman said her tribe has stooped to an “all-time low.”  Fresno Bee article

Fresno Bee: Why has no one been arrested in armed Chukchansi takeover try? – Armed men assigned by the Tex McDonald tribal council stormed into the casino, handcuffed security guards, knocked a man to the floor and waved their guns while making their way into a casino office. Our question: Why has no one been arrested? Fresno Bee editorial

Study: Pension cuts impair government quality – The quality of government pensions corresponds to the quality of workers that agencies hire and retain, according to a new study that cautions state and local officials to be careful when cutting benefits lest they impair recruiting and retaining top-notch help.  Sacramento Bee article

UC Merced wins grant to promote technology-based projects – UC Merced’s Small Business Development Center Regional Network recently received a $90,900 federal grant that will help foster technology-oriented businesses in the Central Valley, the university announced Wednesday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Jeffrey M. Reid: Will Fresno raisin producer Porter Brown win his Supreme Court case 60 years later? – The Fresno attorney writes, “The U.S. Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in a case that could change long standing anti-trust laws with significant ties to Fresno history and industry. The court’s decision may also bring a new legal basis to pursue economic liberties as Constitutional rights.”  Reid op-ed in Fresno Bee

Hotel proposed on Lander Avenue near Highway 99 in Turlock – The Turlock Planning Commission will consider a proposal to build a hotel on Lander Avenue near Highway 99. According to a staff report, a hotel previously had been planned in the area, where Denny’s and Jack in the Box restaurants were built in the early 1990s, but it wasn’t developed. New owners have taken over and hope to build an 85-room, three-story Hampton Inn. The plans call for inclusion of a swimming pool and dining area. Modesto Bee article

The Big Fresno Fair increases attendance – The Big Fresno Fair marked another record-breaking year, drawing 666,621 visitors during its 13-day run. Ending its 131th year on Monday, the fair increased attendance by 3.94 percent from the prior year when 641,351 came through the gates. It was the highest attendance level since 1991 when the fair ran for 16 days.  KVPR report

Many OK with $100 parking spots for Giants games – If you thought a ticket to a playoff game was expensive, try parking your car at one of the Giants’ games this week. Parking rates around AT&T Park for the National League Championship Series have gone as high as $150 as private lot operators seek gold in the sea of orange and black. San Francisco Chronicle article

Bank of Sacramento agrees to be acquired by larger bank – Bank of Sacramento, a longtime presence in the region’s community banking landscape, is being acquired in a $60 million transaction by Spokane, Wash.-based AmericanWest Bank, the two banks confirmed Wednesday.  Sacramento Bee article

Made in California:  Steel fabricator Hannibal is bouncing back – The company has held on to its leading position despite tough times for manufacturers and the steel industry caused by a sluggish recovery and stiff foreign competition.  LA Times article

Lemoore Senior Center lands $1.4 million grant – Amid several years of financial struggles, the Lemoore Senior Center has been awarded a $1.4 million grant to pay for upgrades and repairs for its 18th Avenue facility.  Hanford Sentinel article

Jeff Jardine: Know where your money goes when charities come calling – My questions are always the same: What is your tax ID number? And can you tell me what percentage of what you raise goes to the actual charity and how much you or your organization keeps?  Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Jack Balfanz: Cash ‘coma’? Why city housing costs are worth another look – The Bakersfield resident with 40 years’ experience in the development business writes, “An article in The Californian (“Courtyard project next low-income housing development downtown,” Aug. 27) announced the ground breaking of the Mill Creek project, a 62-unit apartment complex for low-income seniors. The reported cost of the project is $14 million.”  Balfanz op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


Chowchilla leaders eye water storage options – Madera County officials are working on having more water available in lean times as a meter ordinance and a plan for a water balance program will be unveiled in November.  Los Banos Enterprise article

What comes after well goes dry? – Doug Petersen says he never expected his home to be without water. No one ever does.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

California AG Kamala Harris weighs into ‘recidivism’ debate – Attorney General Kamala Harris has weighed into a debate among politicians and law enforcement officials with her own proposal about measuring “recidivism” – re-offending by those who’ve already been through the criminal justice system.  Capitol Alert

Fresno County inmate with TB returned to state prison – A Fresno County jail inmate who was suspected of having contagious tuberculosis has returned to the Coalinga State Hospital because he longer exhibits signs of active TB, the county’s interim heath officer said Wednesday.  Fresno Bee article

Facts in Taft hazing, Yik Yak threat, clown arrest still vague – Three unrelated criminal cases involving minors have intrigued, alarmed and outraged the broader community this school year. The alleged offenses are wildly diverse. The specific nature of the three incidents is not clear, but this much is known: One teen was cited for frightening and chasing children while dressed as a clown; another teen allegedly posted a social media threat that created chaos at Liberty High; and a hazing incident involving the Taft Union High School football team roiled the Taft community.  Bakersfield Californian article

Recruiters: ‘We want the best’ – Police departments across the state recruit out of the top police academies hoping to find the diamond in the rough. Many agencies compete with incentives that boost pay and attract the finest officers to their department. But getting the finest to protect and serve isn’t as easy as simply posting a job. Visalia Times-Delta article

Bank robbery shootout: Learning from Stockton tragedy – Three months ago today, on one of the darkest days in the city’s history, a band of heavily armed men stormed into a Stockton bank, fled with three female hostages and led police in a high-speed pursuit that ended with a deadly shootout.  Stockton Record article


Civil rights groups sue Kern County School District over disciplinary actions – A coalition of civil rights groups are suing the Kern County high school district over disciplinary actions they say unfairly target black and Latino students. Five years ago, Kern High School District suspended nearly 12,000 students and expelled more than 2,000. That’s more than any other school district in California. Roughly 75 percent of those kids were black or Latino, around 20 percent were white.  KQED report

Report highlights financial aid gaps – Low-income students are being especially squeezed by fee increases at the state’s public colleges and universities because financial aid packages haven’t kept pace with costs, according to a new report from the Public Policy Institute of California.  EdSource article

Fresno Unified leader says board will eventually discuss plan to split district – Fresno Unified’s school board will discuss a proposal to split the district in two — but when those talks will take place is still up in the air.  Fresno Bee article

University High named Blue Ribbon school – After special review from the state and federal departments of education, University High charter school has been named a national Blue Ribbon school, a federal award that honors high levels of academic achievement or progress closing the achievement gap.  Fresno Bee article

Students get taste of working life at Fresno career night – More than 1,000 children of all ages — and their parents — packed the Fresno Convention Center on Wednesday night for the Fresno County Office of Education’s Career Tech Night.  Fresno Bee article

Schools strive for farm-fresh food – The Turlock Unified School District has been a leader in ditching bad cafeteria fare in favor of items with less fat and salt and more vitamins and fiber. On top of that, it has strived to get most of its food from California sources.  Modesto Bee article

Fresno State names interim deans for ag school, graduate services division – Fresno State provost Lynnette Zelezny selected two interim deans Wednesday for the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and the Division of Graduate Services.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

UC Merced Connect:  Video technology gives students more access to psychiatric services – With psychiatrists in short supply throughout the community, UC Merced is leveraging modern technology to expand that service to its students. The 10th and newest campus UC campus is the first within the system to provide telemedicine psychiatry. Students who are referred to a psychiatrist are linked to an off-campus doctor through a secure video-conferencing system at the H. Rajender Reddy Health Center. Referrals are made through the health center.  UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star

Nan Austin: Common Core kindergarten math goes uber-basic, sounds hard – Listening to an anti-Common Core speaker last week got me thinking about what has changed for our youngest students. The speaker read a particularly jargon-filled section from the kindergarten math standards under Common Core, saying if parents could not understand what was being asked of youngsters, clearly it was not appropriate for their little ones.  Austin in Modesto Bee

Deasy expected to step down as LA Unified superintendent – Embattled L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy is expected to step down after reaching a settlement with the school board, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.  LA Times article


Wing may have hit tree in deadly air tanker crash – The wing of a firefighting aircraft might have hit a tree and broken off before the tanker crashed into a canyon wall in Yosemite National Park, killing the pilot, federal investigators said Wednesday.  AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

U.S. considers climate change plan that would mandate emissions cuts – The United States is considering a proposal to combat climate change that would require countries to offer plans for curtailing greenhouse gas emissions on a certain schedule but would leave it to individual nations to determine how deep their cuts would be, said Todd Stern, the nation’s chief climate negotiator.  LA Times article

Official in PG&E judge-shopping case won’t vote on blast penalty – A onetime consumer watchdog turned state regulator, embarrassed when secret e-mails showed he promised to help Pacific Gas and Electric Co. in a major rate-setting case, said Wednesday he won’t vote on whether to penalize the utility for the San Bruno disaster.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Panorama Vista Reserve project continues to grow – New plant life was added Wednesday to the once vacant land along the Kern River Parkway when volunteers planted more than 3,000 trees and shrubs. The Panorama Vista Preserve’s land, consisting of more than 936 acres, was created to preserve the area’s natural resources and offer educational, recreational and research opportunities.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton Record: Green water = problem – All things considered, we’d like our Delta water to be blue. And without weeds.  Stockton Record editorial

SMUD, carmakers to demonstrate new EV technology – SMUD and seven automakers will demonstrate Thursday a new energy-saving tool that will send a message directly to electric vehicles, postponing their battery charges until after peak hours, unless the owner overrides it.  Sacramento Bee article

LA agency to urge mandatory quake retrofits for older apartments – After months of studies, Los Angeles’ building department will recommend requiring owners to retrofit thousands of wood apartment buildings vulnerable to collapse during a major earthquake.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Can you get a refund on a plane ticket if you’re worried about Ebola? – Can you cancel your airline ticket because you are afraid of Ebola or other diseases? Yes you can. But you may also pay the financial price.  LA Times article

Amid latest U.S. Ebola outbreak, LA County says it’s prepared –  On the same day the U.S. awoke to reports of a second nurse in Texas testing positive for Ebola, public health officials Wednesday sought to reassure Los Angeles County residents that they were prepared to face the deadly virus should it arrive in the region.  LA Times article

Fresno’s Saint Agnes Hospital partners with large medical group to bring more choice, patients to hospital – Saint Agnes Medical Center has partnered with Dignity Health, a move that is expected to offer more choices to Valley residents for medical services and open up the hospital to patients from around the region.  Fresno Bee article

Virus-transmitting ‘yellow fever’ mosquitoes discovered in LA County – A new aggressive daytime-biting mosquito capable of transmitting debilitating and possibly deadly viruses has been found in the Los Angeles region, officials announced Wednesday.  LA Times article

Kaiser leads HMOs in providing recommended care in state – Kaiser Permanente was the only HMO to earn a top four-star rating for providing recommended care, according to California’s latest report card on insurers and medical groups.  LA Times article

Officials highlight options for young expectant mothers in Merced – Last week’s news of a 13-year-old abandoning her newborn in a trash bin sparked questions about local resources and help available for expectant teens. Had the teen sought help, what would have been her options?  Merced Sun-Star article


Kings officials: High-speed rail threatens key fire station – Kings County supervisors voted Tuesday to get legal help for what could be a protracted fight with high-speed rail over the fate of an important local fire station.  Hanford Sentinel article

Paving apace on Westside Parkway’s last phase – Workers this week have been paving the last section of the Westside Parkway, from Allen Road west to Stockdale Highway and Heath Road.  Bakersfield Californian article

Other Areas

Has Modesto lost one of its city manager finalists – Has one of the finalists for Modesto city manager withdrawn his name for consideration? Mayor Garrad Marsh won’t say, but he and other City Council members are holding a special closed-session meeting Thursday afternoon to talk about hiring a city manager.  Modesto Bee article

Each silhouette a tragic reminder – A range of emotions filled the courtyard outside the Women’s Center-Youth and Family Services building in Stockton as dozens gathered Wednesday evening for “A Night of Remembrance,” a vigil held in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Stockton Record article

Aggressive dogs a steady program for south Modesto, police say – Vicious dogs roaming the streets, chasing people and trapping them inside their homes is a common complaint from residents in southwest Modesto, according to police.  Modesto Bee article

Judge halts Lake County warrantless raids on medical pot patients – After a series of warrantless raids on the homes of medical marijuana patients under a voter-approved ordinance in Lake County, a federal judge has called a halt, saying officers need court approval before entering private property and seizing pot plants.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California tells employees: Don’t talk to media – Two state employees, one a top elected CalPERS official and the other a nameless state worker bee, both recently committed a cardinal sin: They talked to the media.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  Voters can replace two members of the Kern High School District board of trustees next month or they can maintain the stabilizing course those two incumbents have helped establish and retain them. The Californian strongly urges voters to retain them.

Fresno Bee – Armed men assigned by the Tex McDonald tribal council stormed into the casino, handcuffed security guards, knocked a man to the floor and waved their guns while making their way into a casino office. Our question: Why has no one been arrested?; Federal Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill made the right call Wednesday afternoon in ruling that the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino remain closed at least until another court hearing is held Oct. 29; Given his antics, it’s hard to take Neel Kashkari seriously.

Merced Sun-Star – Why has no one been arrested in armed Chukchansi takeover try?

Modesto Bee – Neel Kashkari is flailing as he attempts to unseat Gov. Jerry Brown, as his revolting drowning-child ad shows.

Sacramento Bee – For a while now, Neel Kashkari has been all but screaming “Mayday” in his losing battle to unseat Jerry Brown. Still, his latest ad, forcing us all to watch a child’s near-drowning, offers another reminder of how far a campaign can fall.

Stockton Record – Right now, California needs the type of help that will be available with this water bond. It’s not a panacea — far from it, in fact. But to do nothing would be negligent. And short-sighted; All things considered, we’d like our Delta water to be blue. And without weeds.