October 18, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California law enforcement detaining fewer undocumented immigrants – Local law enforcement agencies in California are transferring fewer undocumented immigrants into federal custody, a change occurring as the state implements a new law barring jails from holding nonviolent immigration detainees for federal officials. Capitol Alert

Proposition 47 would lower penalties to reduce prison population, pay for programs – Over the years, California voters have been asked to decide a number of criminal justice issues, ranging from whether to keep the death penalty to modifying the state’s “three-strikes” law. Now, voters are now being given the chance to alter punishments for nonviolent crimes in a move that proponents say ultimately will reduce crime statewide.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

CD21: Uphill battle continues for Renteria – Can Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton propel Amanda Renteria to victory? Going up against incumbent Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, in a congressional district that has become difficult for Democrats, Renteria is pulling out all the stops with three-and-a-half weeks to go before Election Day.  Hanford Sentinel article

Developers play big-money role in candidates’ campaigns – More than $240,000 in donations has flowed into the coffers of the six Stockton City Council candidates this calendar year, more than half of the money arriving since July 1. Three donors with real-estate ties or clients — AG Spanos Companies, The Grupe Companies and the law firm of Hakeem, Ellis & Marengo — account for $25,200 of the more than $233,000 that had been contributed in 2014 to City Council candidates through Sept 30.  Stockton Record article

Munson’s expenditures at own business questioned – A candidate in the race for San Joaquin County supervisor has taken some heat for using nearly $25,000 in campaign funds to pay for campaign events at his own business. Stockton Record article

Bakersfield council profile:  Ward 1 council candidate Manuel Ramirez discusses plans – Manuel Ramirez is 21 years old and said running for the Ward 1 Bakersfield City Council seat was a calling.  Bakersfield Californian article

Two State Center Community College District trustees face challengers – A set of political freshmen are putting two State Center Community College District trustees up for re-election on the defense, pointing to recent flaps like the resignation of former Chancellor Deborah Blue and inveterate ills like bottle-necked courses as reasons for new leadership.  Fresno Bee article

Firefighters back Castellanoz Munoz, Macedo for Tulare council – The Tulare Professional Firefighters Association has announced endorsements for the council races. In the race for District 2, the Association endorsed Maritsa Castellanoz Munoz, selecting her over candidates Arthur Cabello and Ben Brubaker. District 2 is up for election using the by-area system for the first time. There is no incumbent. The local firefighters also pledged support for Mayor David Macedo. Visalia Times-Delta article

Kings County school seat up for grabs – Two Kings County heavyweights are competing for a spot on the Kings County Board of Education next year. Former district attorney Greg Strickland is challenging board incumbent and former county director of Human Services Bill Gundaker in the November election for Gundaker’s Area 4 seat. Hanford Sentinel article

Atwater volunteer at center of PAL controversy speaks out – A longtime Police Activities League volunteer who was let go after the nonprofit’s van was used to distribute political fliers spoke out this week, saying a police official knew about the decision and handed him keys to the vehicle.  Merced Sun-Star article

Los Banos officials, advocacy group team to support districting – The local civil rights group threatening to sue Los Banos has city officials on its side in imploring voters to approve by-district voting next month.  Los Banos Enterprise article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Neel Kashkari plunks another million into governor’s race – Neel Kashkari donated another $1 million to his gubernatorial campaign Friday, as the Republican continues to struggle to raise money ahead of Election Day.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Fresno Mayor Swearengin, running for state controller, has unclaimed property sitting at controller’s office – Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s campaign for state controller makes frequent reference to her financial acumen as a reason for voters to elect her to the office. She takes credit, for example, for leading Fresno out of its near-default status of just a few years ago to a much healthier balance sheet today. Yet Swearengin has apparently lost track of money owed her and which is now sitting as unclaimed property in a state fund overseen by the controller.  Fresno Bee article

Trudy Wischerman: In the end, water bond will undermine small farmers – Wischermann, who is editing a book of writings on “Agriculture and the Common Good” for publication this year with Mark Arax, writes, “I think our farm friends are being used, once again, to pass legislation that will undermine them in the end. I don’t know that they have a choice. But we do.”  Wischermann op-ed in Fresno Bee

Latinos could be voting Republican now if it weren’t for immigration – It makes sense to believe that Latinos are a growing political force in California: more than a quarter of all eligible voters are Latino. But it’s also true in states that you wouldn’t expect like Massachusetts and Ohio.  KPCC report

Bakersfield Californian: Look long and hard, then reject Prop 48 – Proposition 48, which appears on the November ballot, can be likened to a stereogram, or what some call a Magic Eye image. At first, the image is incomprehensible. You have to stare long and hard before the message becomes clear. Voters should look long and hard at Proposition 48, and then vote no.  Bakersfield Californian editorial

Other areas

Sacramento Bee: New Senate leader Kevin Leon de León starts off on a sour note with glitz-fest – We don’t want to deny de León his moment of glory, only remind him that he’s taking over a Senate suffering from severely compromised credibility.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Fundraising in Sacramento strong-mayor campaign exceeds $1 million – Sacramento’s strong-mayor campaign is now a $1 million battle. The campaign committees supporting and opposing Measure L on the November ballot have raised a combined total of just over $1 million, according to the most recent campaign finance reports filed with the City Clerk’s office.  Sacramento Bee article

LA lawmakers moves to sync elections with federal, state contests – A panel of Los Angeles lawmakers pressed ahead Friday with a plan to ask voters to shift local elections to even-numbered years — a schedule change that would put them on the same ballot as closely watched contests for governor or president.  LA Times article

New Oakland mayoral poll:  Kaplan leads, Schaaf 2nd, Quan 3rd – Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan continues to hold the lead in the race for Oakland mayor, and fellow Councilwoman Libby Schaaf has moved into second place, according to the latest poll from the Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.  KQED report

Obama signs order to protect consumers from identify theft – President Obama signed an executive order Friday to protect consumers from identity theft by strengthening security features in credit cards and the terminals in which they are processed.  Washington Post article

Obama’s credit card was recently declined at dinner with first lady – The commander-in-chief says he was at a New York restaurant recently eating out with First Lady Michelle Obama during the United Nations General Assembly. But when it came time to pay the bill, some poor waitress had to tell the president the bad news: His credit card had been declined.  LA Times article

Analysis: Supreme Court allows Texas to enforce voter ID law – By a 6-3 vote the justices turned aside appeals from lawyers for civil rights groups and the Obama administration, who warned that the new law would hinder voting by blacks and Latinos. The court did not rule on the constitutionality of the law, but cleared the way for the restrictions to take effect for the November election while legal challenges work their way through the courts.  LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Unemployment rates drop to single digits in majority of Valley counties – Unemployment rates dropped to single digits in six of the Valley’s eight counties in September, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.  Only Merced (10.4 percent) and Tulare (11.2 percent) had double-digit rates.  Madera County had the lowest rate (8.2 percent).  Here are the September rates, following in parentheses by the August 2014 and September 2013 numbers:

·       Fresno – 9.5 percent (10.1, 11.1)

·       Kern – 8.9 percent (9.5, 10.1)

·       Kings – 9.8 percent (10.6, 11.1)

·       Madera – 8.2 percent (9.0, 9.3)

·       Merced – 10.4 percent (11.3, 11.8)

·       San Joaquin – 9.7 percent (10.3, 11.3)

·       Stanislaus – 9.7 percent (10.2, 11.0)

·       Tulare – 11.2 percent (11.8, 12.2)

California’s unemployment rate drops to 7.3 percent in September – California’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.3% in September — the lowest in more than six years — though the total number of jobs declined by 9,800 last month, according to state data.  LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno County jobless rate hits single digits for first time in 6 years – Fresno County’s jobless rate fell to 9.5% in September — the first time it’s dropped below 10% in six years. Monthly numbers released Friday by the state Employment Development Department showed the jobless rate was the lowest since September 2008, when it was at 9.4%.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Kern unemployment rate lowest in years – Kern County’s economy posted its best mark since the Great Recession as a hiring surge in local education and food processing combined last month with continued strength in construction and business services.  Bakersfield Californian article

Unemployment rate dips to 10.4 percent in Merced County – Merced County’s unemployment rate fell to 10.4 percent in September, its lowest level in about seven years, according to the latest data released by the state Employment Development Department.  Merced Sun-Star article

San Joaquin County jobless rate drops below 10 percent – San Joaquin County’s unemployment rate fell below 10 percent in September, the first time the area’s monthly jobless figure stood in single digits since June 2008, due to seasonal gains in school and farm employment, state officials reported Friday.  Stockton Record article

Chukchansi employees given extra week of pay – Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino employees were told Friday they’ll be getting an extra week of pay in the wake of last week’s sudden shutdown. The casino notified its workers about the gesture in a letter.  Fresno Bee article

Grizzlies send big rent check to Fresno City Hall, but future remains unclear – City officials wondered this week if events triggered by the stunning closure of the tribe’s Madera County casino might someday force them to boot the Grizzlies out of the city-owned downtown stadium for unpaid rent. On Friday those same city officials were all smiles after the Grizzlies, in one fell swoop, cut their outstanding balance by a whopping $1.25 million.  Fresno Bee article

Housing market slowing down, fewer millennials buying homes – The housing market continues to recover after a debilitating recession with homeownership rates stabilizing, construction jobs up and mortgage interest rates remaining at historic lows, a California housing expert said Friday at a symposium at Fresno State.  Fresno Bee article

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac reach deal to ease mortgage lending – Mortgage financing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, together with their federal regulator, have drawn up rules aimed at loosening constricted lending standards to make mortgages more affordable and easier to get for those with less than stellar credit.  LA Times article

Modesto’s Olam food processing plant cuts 173 jobs – The Olam Spices & Vegetables food processing plant in Modesto revealed Friday it will permanently lay off 173 employees on Dec. 19 “due to poor financial conditions.”  Fresno Bee article

Economic inequality is a great concern, Yellen says – Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sounded an alarm Friday about widening economic inequality in the United States, suggesting that America’s longstanding identity as a land of opportunity was at stake.  AP article

The million-job economy returns to the Bay Area’s three major urban centers – For the first time since the 9/11 attacks, all three of the Bay Area’s employment hubs — the South Bay, the East Bay and the San Francisco metro area — are million-job economies, fresh evidence that the region has banished the woes of the Great Recession, a state labor report released Friday shows.  San Jose Mercury News article

Port of Los Angeles cargo volume surges in September, up 7.8 percent for year – The Port of Los Angeles in September saw its busiest month in eight years, as larger cargo ships called at the port and retailers rushed in goods for the holiday season.  LA Times article

Judge rejects environmental suit over Sacramento Kings arena – In a victory for city officials and the Sacramento Kings, a judge Friday rejected a pair of environmental lawsuits filed by foes of the team’s new downtown arena.  Sacramento Bee article

Firm owned by Yankees, Cowboys will run food service at new Kings arena – A firm co-founded by the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys will run the food concessions at the new Sacramento Kings arena, but Sacramento-area restaurants will be prominently featured inside the arena as well.  Sacramento Bee article


Mark Grossi: Earth Log: Back to the debate over Temperance Flat – I wanted to pick up the conversation again briefly to raise just a few points that I couldn’t get into the story with deadline and space constraints. Many opponents talked about the rich cultural and natural history that would be inundated by a large, new reservoir upstream of Millerton Lake. One speaker talked about rare caves that would be lost in the Millerton Lake area. A representative of the Bureau of Indian Affairs said the draft EIS does not address water rights of native Americans. A local Sierra Club member said the stretch of river above Millerton Lake is being considered for protected status under the National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.  Grossi in Fresno Bee

Odds for a wetter winter improve slightly – Odds that drought-stricken California is facing another drier-than-average winter may not be as high as some had predicted. Visalia Times-Delta article

California Foodways: A visit to a dairy farm run by inmates – The stereotypical job for prison inmates is making license plates. But the reality for some inmates in the Central Valley couldn’t be more different. Their workplace? A dairy — where they produce milk for almost all the state’s prisons. For the series California Foodways, Lisa Morehouse talks to inmates who say the job gives them much more than a small paycheck. California Report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Madera County Sheriff Anderson:  Chukchansi cases to go to DA; those who ‘committed violations’ will be prosecuted – 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

Tulare County looks at job training for juvenile offenders – The idea sprouted from conversations between Tulare County Supervisor Phil Cox and the county’s chief probation officer, Christie Myer: Offer vocational and computer training to the county’s incarcerated youth offenders.  Visalia Times-Delta article

New shooting simulator up realism for LA County sheriff’s deputies –  In eight years with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Chad Wagner has never fired his gun at a suspect. On Friday, he faced several situations where he had to.  LA Times article

An app seeks to crowdsource search for suspected child predators – Android users will now have access to a smartphone app — calledOperation Predator — designed for the public to help catch child predators in California and across the nation. It’s also now available in Spanish.  California Report


Investigator looking into Taft parent complaints – Taft school officials are looking into parent complaints accusing administrators of bullying and negligence in its response to hazing allegedly involving eight high school football players.  Bakersfield Californian article

Deasy slams teachers unions, speaks of regrets – Days after stepping down as Los Angeles schools chief, John Deasy acknowledged he should have worked harder to improve relations with the school board but also criticized the teachers union for making it difficult to improve the district.  LA Times article

LA Unified says it believes Deasy acted ethically on iPads –  As part of its settlement this week with former schools Supt. John Deasy, the Los Angeles Board of Education declared that it did not believe Deasy had done anything wrong in connection with the project to provide students with iPads, even though the district has an ongoing investigation into the propriety of the bidding process.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Gov. Jerry Brown says state is working on Ebola safeguards – Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that the state is drawing up plans to protect nurses, other health care workers and the public from Ebola, saying California must avoid mistakes made in Texas in dealing with the disease.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Costa opposes a travel ban from West Africa – Congressman Jim Costa, D-Fresno, said Friday the he supports the decision by the Obama administration not to impose a travel ban on persons coming from West African nations hard hit by the Ebola virus.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Hospitals need to give facts, not spin, on Ebola – The public needs the unvarnished truth about that preparation. Too much is at stake for hospitals to imagine the community will be satisfied with some corporate spokesperson’s legally vetted version of “there, there.”  Sacramento Bee editorial

In setback for Ebola vaccine, company says work will take longer than hoped – The Ebola crisis took new twists Friday, with another somber update from the World Health Organization on the outbreak in West Africa and a bleak warning from a major drug manufacturer that a safe vaccine likely won’t be ready before the current epidemic has passed.  McClatchy Newspapers article

San Francisco issues Ebola screening rules for 911 dispatchers – Though there have been no cases of Ebola in California, San Francisco’s Department of Emergency Management took a precautionary step and enacted new Ebola-specific screening protocols for the city’s 911 dispatchers.  San Francisco Chronicle article

San Joaquin County woman dies from West Nile virus – A woman in her 60s has died from West Nile Virus, county officials said Friday, a reminder in this unusually warm October that mosquitoes still pose a threat to human health. The woman, who lived in the rural north county, is just the second person from San Joaquin County to die from the virus since 2009.  Stockton Record article

After decade of change, Cohen moves on – Health Care Services Director Ken Cohen last week ended a 12-year stint in San Joaquin County that saw turbulent times as his agency changed and improved health care for county residents, officials said.  Stockton Record article

Other Areas

CHP report cost $823,000 – The California Highway Patrol investigation of the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge released this month – which found no illegality or retaliation against engineers who complained about construction defects – cost about $823,000.  Sacramento Bee article

Beyond Bakersfield:  News from around Kern County – California City may soon be home to a state-of-the-art sports complex. But don’t start making plans to visit just yet. Rumors are circulating that Westin-Clark Real Estate Investors, LLC, from New York held a secret gettogether in California City and scoped out the area.  Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  Proposition 48, which appears on the November ballot, can be likened to a stereogram, or what some call a Magic Eye image. At first, the image is incomprehensible. You have to stare long and hard before the message becomes clear. Voters should look long and hard at Proposition 48, and then vote no.

Fresno Bee – Plastic bag makers are in denial about California ban; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – Hold your nose and vote yes on Proposition 46.

Modesto Bee – Our views:  Giants’ Ishikawa shows never giving up pays off, Modesto picking a city manager from a field of one, and other issues.

Sacramento Bee – Hospitals need to give facts, not spin, on Ebola; New Senate leader Kevin Leon de León starts off on a sour note with glitz-fest.