October 17, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

New report shows wide variation in Valley for Latino voter registration – While 52% of Fresno County residents are Latino, the area’s congressional districts show varying shares of Latino eligible voters.  Fresno Bee article

Parties’ spending may expand battlefield for California Assembly races – The most attention-grabbing move so far has been the GOP’s strike against first-term Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray. In the last week, according to filings with the secretary of state, the California Republican Party has spent more than $325,000 on independent expenditures to boost Jack Mobley, a Merced Republican who entered the primary election as a write-in candidate.  LA Times article

Valley politics

Hanford Measure S campaigns spend thousands – The battle over Hanford’s proposed Measure S sales tax for public safety and other essential city services has been heating up. According to campaign finance records submitted to the city clerk, the “Support Hanford Public Safety — Yes on S” group raised $13,750 as of Oct. 6. During the same period, the anti-Measure S committee “Hanford Now” raised $4,821 from a handful of private citizens and local businesses.  Hanford Sentinel article

Bakersfield council election primary:  Public safety, infrastructure big for Ward 3’s Carter Escudero – Carter Escudero is a married mother of fraternal 8-year-old twin girls who’s seeking office for the second time in two years.  Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare City Council election will complete switch to districts, five candidates on ballot – A fresh face is guaranteed on the Tulare City Council in the November election because District 2 on Tulare’s west side has no incumbent candidate.  Fresno Bee article

A race between generations in Hanford – Hanford voters will have to decide in the upcoming election whether their City Council needs some fresh young faces or some distinguished veterans to handle the city’s most pressing issues.  Hanford Sentinel article

Fresno Unified superintendent backs Hill in judge race – In a rare — but not unprecedented — move, Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson has backed a candidate for political office, this time Superior Court judge hopeful Rachel Hill.  Fresno Bee article

Irene De La Cruz: Voting gives people a voice – The Planada resident writes, “Many times I’ve heard from different people who say: “Why should I vote? I’m just one vote, it doesn’t count.” As Election Day approaches, this notion needs to be addressed. As citizens and community members, it’s our obligation to address this because every vote does count.” De La Cruz op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Bakersfield Californian: Props 1 and 2: Not perfect, but worth supporting – Propositions 1 and 2, the products of many months of negotiation between Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature, have the imprint of a seasoned statesman. Neither proposition is perfect, but they deserve voter support. They will help address California’s two most pressing shortages: water and money.  Bakersfield Californian editorial

Joel Fox: Prop 1 roots go back to water bonds that built California – With the state facing a drought of staggering proportions, Proposition 1 would continue California’s long history of providing and caring for precious water resources.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Neel Kashkari answers criticism about ‘drowning’ ad – Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari is unapologetic about a campaign ad that equates Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to fight a controversial June court decision over teacher seniority with letting California schoolchildren drown.  KQED report

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin aims for state controller’s office – KQED’s John Myers talks with Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin about her race for state controller. KQED Forum

Similar ideas define race for elections chief – The Democratic candidate running to become California’s top election official has worked in government since soon after graduating college and touts his familiarity with the political process. His Republican opponent left a career in the printing industry to become an evangelist for fixing what he sees as a broken bond between the people and their government.  AP article

Water bond, drug testing for doctors on ballot – With the November general election less than three weeks away, some of the biggest election debates aren’t occurring between candidates running for office but rather between people for or against ballot measures.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Padilla gets help from union-backed committee in secretary of state race – A union-funded independent expenditure committee Wednesday reported spending almost $170,000 on online ads to help elect state Sen. Alex Padilla as California secretary of state, the most independent spending by far in any Nov. 4 partisan statewide contest. Capitol Alert

Big money, complex issues make Prop 45 tough issue for state voters – Almost three decades ago, a small band of consumer activists persuaded California voters to slap tough new rate regulations on auto insurance. Now that same group wants to crack down on health insurance rates. And the insurance industry and its business allies are back with a multimillion-dollar war chest to fight Proposition 45 with an omnipresent media campaign.  LA Times article

Fresno Bee: ‘Yes’ vote on Prop 45 will rein in health premiums – Proposition 45 is worthy of a “yes”vote. But if you want to put more of your hard-earned dollars into the pockets of insurance company CEOs, by all means vote “no.” They might be having trouble making the mortgage on their second yacht — or third vacation home.  Fresno Bee editorial

Tim Clark: November turnout could deliver pleasant surprises for GOP – The GOP campaign consultant and campaign manager for controller candidate Ashley Swearengin writes, “In November, “no party preference” voters could come close to 25% of the overall turnout – at least 5 points higher than years past. What’s that mean? First, this group of unaffiliated voters will likely decide the close contests – including California’s State Controller race, where Republican Ashley Swearengin has put her strong independent streak on full display.  Non-partisan voters gravitate to candidates who they feel validate their decision to eschew the party-line vote.”  Clark in Fox & Hounds

Other areas

Record number of Latinos eligible to vote, but midterm clout limited – A record number of Latinos are eligible to vote this year, but despite the rising numbers, Latino political clout will be sharply limited in the upcoming midterm election, according to a detailed new study.  LA Times article

Oil industry helps fund group that paid for De Leon’s inauguration – The $50,000 inauguration of Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) sparked some controversy because it was paid for by the California Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation, which raises its money from a who’s who of special interests that lobby the Legislature.  LA Times article

Politicians using Ebola to score points – While Ebola looms as a serious public health threat to the country, it’s also becoming an increasingly effective political weapon in the run-up to November’s midterm elections.  San Francisco Chronicle article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Winter rains not likely to ease California drought – Drought conditions will likely ease in much of the West this winter, but not in most of California, according to a new climate report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  San Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee articleLA Times articleStockton Record articleCapital Public Radio report

Cal State announces tentative agreement on faculty contract – California State University announced Thursday that it has reached a tentative agreement with its faculty union on a three-year contract that restores pay increases and addresses workload concerns.  LA Times articleBakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Census Bureau: California still has highest U.S. poverty rate – California continues to have – by far – the nation’s highest level of poverty under an alternative method devised by the Census Bureau that takes into account both broader measures of income and the cost of living.  Capitol Alert

Amazon to hire 80,000 seasonal workers in U.S., ‘thousands’ at California sites – Online retail giant Amazon, which has large fulfillment centers in Patterson and Tracy, announced Thursday that it will create 80,000 seasonal positions at its 50 fulfillment centers and 15 new sorting centers in the United States. “We are hiring at Tracy and Patterson,” Amazon spokeswoman Ashley Robinson assured.  Modesto Bee article

Job training for drought-impacted workers – Because of drought-aid legislation signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Jerry Brown, College of the Sequoias and five other San Joaquin Valley-based community colleges have each been allotted $150,000 to provide job training to workers and employers hit hardest by the drought.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Merced County reaches agreements with four employee unions – Nearly seven months after labor negotiations started, Merced County officials have reached “status quo” agreements with four of 11 employee unions. The agreements offer no wage or benefit increases to those employees over the next year.  Merced Sun-Star article

American Medical Response to cut about 200 Salida jobs – American Medical Response will close a regional billing operation in Salida and cut about 200 jobs.  Modesto Bee article

Turlock apartment rents jump 10 percent in one year – After remaining fairly flat for nearly a decade, apartment rents are on the rise in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. That’s particularly true in Turlock, where average rents have risen 10 percent since last year, according to Real Answers, an apartment research group formerly called RealFacts. The average rent asked for apartments in Turlock this July, August and September was $928 per month.  Modesto Bee article

Joe Mathews: Can a higher minimum wage lower your quality of life? – The better path would be for our political leaders to go beyond popular public appeals for a higher minimum wage, and instead recalibrate and expand social programs so that low-wage workers get the full benefit of their raises. Of course, doing this would require two things that are in short supply: thoughtful political action and money.  Mathews in Fox & Hounds

Study: Third of Oakland restaurant workers can’t afford the meals – More than a third of Oakland’s restaurant workers don’t make enough money to put food on their own tables, according to a study released Friday by a restaurant labor group.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Enough signatures gathered to for San Diego minimum wage hike to ballot – San Diego’s minimum wage workers will not be getting city-mandated raises this year. That’s because opponents to the City Council-approved minimum wage increase have successfully gathered enough signatures to force the issue on a future ballot, probably in June 2016.  KPBS reportU-T San Diego article

Dan Walters: Gasoline prices fall but will climb under cap-and-trade – Bringing gasoline refiners under the program will raise their costs, and to some extent – how much is still unknown – they will shift those costs to motorists in the form of higher pump prices.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Alex Tavlian:  Rome, or in this case, Chukchansi is burning – The former reporter in Sacramento and Fresno writes, “After a multiyear, greed-filled turf war, the only thing that means anything to the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians is crumbling: its multi-million dollar Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino.”  Tavlian op-ed in Fresno Bee

Chip Johnson: Big Soda’s campaign against San Francisco, Berkeley measures may fall flat – The only visible opponents of the soda tax measures in Berkeley and San Francisco are none other than the soda-pop makers themselves. There’s no groundswell of opposition from soda drinkers, no libertarians or Tea Party members rushing to lend support to the super-size-me crowd.  Johnson in San Francisco Chronicle

Michael Bloomberg gives $83,000 to support Berkeley’s proposed soda tax – Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who fought unsuccessfully to establish a cap on the size of soda portions sold in that city, has donated $83,000 to the Yes on Measure D campaign.  KQED report

Tulare CEO to leave position – Tulare Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Kathleen Johnson will continue to serve her current role through Nov. 15.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Loma Prieta earthquake: 25 years later, neighborhoods reborn – West Oakland and San Francisco’s Marina district, two dramatically different neighborhoods that were among the most ravaged when the Loma Prieta earthquake brought death and destruction 25 years ago Friday, now have something remarkable in common. They have been reborn, in ways few could have foreseen after the quake laid them flat on Oct. 17, 1989.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Fresno Bee: There’s much more we can do to save water in the Valley – City councils and mayors throughout the Valley should be brainstorming incentive programs and how to fund them. Water conservation must become a way of life — rain or no rain this winter.  Fresno Bee editorial

Temperance Dam plan is flawed, critics say at Fresno forum – About 100 people listened at a public meeting in Fresno to sometimes passionate statements from speakers who faulted everything from the feasibility analysis to the notification for the hearing on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for Temperance Flat Reservoir. Fresno Bee article

Private well failures spike in Tulare County – New data released today from the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services reports the number of private well failures in the county grew by 19 percent since October 6.  KVPR report

Almond Board adopts new rules for pesticide use – The Almond Board of California announced a new push Thursday to keep pesticides from harming the bees that pollinate the nut trees. The Modesto-based group released a detailed set of farming practices, many of them already in use, and said it would share them with growers in advance of the February start of pollination.  Modesto Bee articleSacramento Bee article

Citrus pest turns up in Ripon, Manteca – Inspectors reported finding two Asian citrus psyllids, a major threat to commercial growers, in residential parts of Manteca and Lodi. It is believed to be the first detection in the Northern San Joaquin Valley of the pest, which has done heavy damage to Florida growers and is a danger as well to California citrus, mainly in the south Valley.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sheriff Anderson: Arrests couldn’t be made immediately after Chukchansi casino incident – No charges have been filed or arrests made in connection with the armed infiltration last week of Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino. Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said sheriff reports should be completed sometime next week; by Thursday, investigators had identified most people in casino surveillance footage.  Fresno Bee article

Holt-Singh’s family still living ‘with the nightmare’ – Attorney Gregory Bentley, speaking for the Singhs, described the actions of the Stockton Police Department on July 16 following the armed robbery of the Bank of the West on Thornton Road as “excessive and unreasonable force.” While no lawsuit has been filed to date, Bentley said often that the department needs to accept that procedural failures occurred that day. He also spent time laying out a case for Bank of the West to share in the responsibility for what happened to Holt-Singh.  Stockton Record article

Pilot funding returns arts to California prisons – The funding will bring state-funded arts of all kinds to inmates at more than a dozen prisons for the first time since California’s once-renowned prison arts network withered during tough budget times more than a decade ago.  AP article


State ranks first in after-school programs – In a national ranking, California is at the top in providing quality after-school programs based on the percentage of students involved, parent satisfaction and other factors, according to a survey released Thursday.  EdSource article

Smittcamp leads list of 13 Top Dogs to be honored by Fresno State – Local business leader William S. Smittcamp will be honored as the Fresno State Alumni Association’s Top Dog at a Nov. 7 gala at the Save Mart Center.  Fresno Bee article

‘First Look’: Endeavour principal talks about outpouring of support for burned playground – When Endeavour Elementary School Principal Matt Diggle started to receive numerous phone calls and text messages Sunday afternoon, he knew something was wrong. But never did it cross his mind that the school playground was on fire. Bakersfield Californian article

LA Unified regrouping after Deasy’s departure – The end of Supt. John Deasy’s dynamic and controversial 3 1/2 year reign over public schools in Los Angeles leaves school district leaders with the daunting task of mending broken relationships with employees, especially teachers, while stoking a continued upswing in student achievement. LA Times articleSteve Lopez column in LA Times

Process begins to attract new Merced Union High School District trustee – The search is on for someone to replace Sam Spangler on the Merced Union High School District board of trustees.  Merced Sun-Star article


Proposed San Francisco law would put a solar panel on nearly every roof – San Francisco could soon require solar panels on most new construction in the city and push owners of existing apartment buildings to plant photovoltaic arrays on their roofs.  San Francisco Chronicle article

PG&E may face $1-million fine over improper contact with PUC – San Francisco utility Pacific Gas & Electric may face a $1-million fine for a series of improper and unreported communications with state regulators.  LA Times article

CPUC lawyers say bosses kept quiet on judge-shopping order – Lawyers with the state commission that regulates Pacific Gas and Electric Co. say the agency’s bosses didn’t pass along an order from state Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office to safeguard evidence as prosecutors investigate a judge-shopping case involving the utility and top public officials.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Mike Klocke:  Loma Prieta 25th anniversary: Candlestick stood and protected – Today — Oct. 17, 2014 — is another Loma Prieta earthquake anniversary. This time, it is the iconic 25th anniversary of a temblor that shook the Bay Area, took several hundred lives, delayed a classic World Series and set in motion earthquake preparedness infrastructure changes, many of which still are not complete.  Klocke in Stockton Record

Health/Human Services

Community Regional Medical Center doctor:  Fresno hospital prepared for Ebola patients – Community Regional Medical Center is prepared should anyone with Ebola or hemorrhagic fever symptoms seek treatment, Dr. Hagop Afarian, an emergency medical doctor at the downtown Fresno hospital, said Thursday.  Fresno Bee article

Ebola scare prompts two Sacramento hospitals to ramp up preparedness – UC Davis Medical Center’s chief medical officer briefed the public on the hospital’s preparedness Thursday, after an Ebola scare earlier in the week tested the response of its emergency department workers and revealed some areas in need of improvement. Sacramento Bee article

Poll: More than half of Americans worry about Ebola outbreak in U.S. – A Harvard School of Public Health poll finds that more than a third of Americans (38 percent) are worried that Ebola will infect them or a family member over the next year.  KQED report

Ebola scare: Flight attendants and pilots seek better protections – The United States’ largest unions for flight attendants and pilots on Thursday called on airlines and federal agencies to step up efforts to protect airline passengers and crew members from the potential spread of Ebola.  LA Times article

Todd Suntrapak: Hospital CEO finds Sante collaborating with its competition – The president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Central California writes, “CMC and Santé have every right to pursue their strategy, and while we may disagree about the true benefits to the Central Valley, it is good to know what motivates them and how they make decisions. We are disappointed that we could not find alignment with Santé.” Suntrapak op-ed in Fresno Bee

Dr. Daniel Bluestone: The battle over children’s health care – The medical director for Santé Community Physicians writes, “Everyone who cares about children, particularly the most vulnerable children who need specialty care, should demand that Children’s Hospital administration reverse course and stop putting kids, parents and primary-care doctors in the middle of the hospital’s business schemes. For our part, Santé will use any means available to see that our kids get the care they need.”Bluestone op-ed in Fresno Bee

‘Slow medicine’ strikes a chord – Nearly 500 people — doctors, nurses and ordinary people with an interest in health care — attended a forum Thursday to hear Dr. Victoria Sweet, a physician and author, talk about how “slow medicine” could improve the quality of life of patients. Sweet is Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco. Visalia Times-Delta article


Dan Walters Daily: California high-speed rail still in doubt – Despite receiving permission to move ahead with construction, California still faces financial obstacles to building its proposed bullet train, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Other Areas

DOJ official: California should strengthen medical marijuana oversight – California should strengthen its regulation of the medical marijuana industry if the state wants to avoid federal intervention, Deputy Atty. Gen. James M. Cole said Thursday in an interview with The Times.  LA Times article

Modesto down to one finalist for city manager – Modesto started the week with two finalists for city manager and now has one. City officials said Thursday that Rocklin City Manager Ricky Horst has withdrawn his name from consideration, making interim City Manager Jim Holgersson the only finalist.  Modesto Bee article

Luis Medina: The story of two grants has a happy ending for local youth – The administrative analyst with Community Action Partnership of Kern writes, “This is the story of two grants: one small, one large. I know, probably not the most animated and thrilling-sounding of protagonists. But it’s a story that will illustrate the heroic impact of grant making on the lives of 150 low-income, at-risk youth in two communities.”  Medina op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

City Beat: New roof, Mill House award, skeeters – As its age implies, the 1946 bungalow Helen Lopez shares with her daughter Yasmin Lopez-Gonsouland is a southeast midcentury classic.  Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield National Cemetery elevated to National Shrine status – Bakersfield National Cemetery has been designated a National Shrine, becoming one of only 17 of 131 national cemeteries to receive the recognition, and the only national cemetery in California to be so honored.  Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  Propositions 1 and 2, the products of many months of negotiation between Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature, have the imprint of a seasoned statesman. Neither proposition is perfect, but they deserve voter support. They will help address California’s two most pressing shortages: water and money.

Fresno Bee – Proposition 45 is worthy of a “yes”vote. But if you want to put more of your hard-earned dollars into the pockets of insurance company CEOs, by all means vote “no.” They might be having trouble making the mortgage on their second yacht — or third vacation home; City councils and mayors throughout the Valley should be brainstorming incentive programs and how to fund them. Water conservation must become a way of life — rain or no rain this winter.

Merced Sun-Star – Judge made the right decision on Chukchansi casino finances.

Modesto Bee – Three state Supreme Court justices deserve approval from voters.

Sacramento Bee – The message that California is in severe drought is being heard. But more must be done.