October 19, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Prop 48 revives California’s off-reservation casino debate – Proposition 48, a referendum on two tribal gaming compacts brokered by Gov. Jerry Brown and approved by the Legislature, will ask voters whether they want to uphold the deals. Massive gambling revenue is on the line, as are questions about the growing phenomenon of “off-reservation” Indian casinos in California.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown has two paths for fourth term – It appears that Brown has a personal checklist he believes will earn him a better place in the history books than did his first eight-year stint that began with his election 40 years ago.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

An experienced Jerry Brown vows to build on what he’s already done – Making a case for reelection, Gov. Jerry Brown said in an interview that he would hold the line on state spending despite “pent-up” demand for more, further boost local governments’ authority and keep California’s tangle of regulations from growing in a fourth and final term as governor.  LA Times article

Jerry Brown: Candidate forges a new path in life, politics – After more than four decades in politics, the minimalist philosophy still informs the life of the 76-year-old Democrat as he seeks an unprecedented fourth term as governor.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Once-quirky Jerry Brown pursues a lasting policy legacy as governor of California – After sidelining opponents and steadying the state’s finances, the quirky 76-year-old Democrat is looking to put his stamp on the state’s water and transportation infrastructure and playing statesman on global climate change, recently addressing a U.N. climate change conference.  AP article

Valley politics

San Joaquin County supervisor’s race draws split support – Whoever wins the race to become the next San Joaquin County District 4 supervisor will be sharing the dais with two colleagues who backed the other guy during the election.  Stockton Record article

Lois Henry: More intrigue in the (say what?) assessor’s race – After a week of looking into this particular subject, here’s my conclusion: The closer you get to election day, the stinkier things get. And the stinkiest race, by far, is for Kern County assessor. Theassessor, for cripes sake.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Battle lines drawn over state water bond – Campaigns for and against the measure are in full swing, with supporters describing the bond as critical to ensuring California’s future water supply and opponents calling it a massive, misguided use of taxpayer money. U-T San Diego article

Sacramento Bee: Jerry Brown has a huge opportunity, assuming he wins his fourth term, and we do – Assuming he wins on Nov. 4, and we do, Brown will have the experience, the know-how and political capital to make generational changes that would be the stuff of legacy.  Sacramento Bee editorial

State schools chief Tom Torlakson touts experience in tight re-election battle – Torlakson is counting on his years of experience and support from Democratic Party leaders to persuade voters to give him four more years at the helm of California schools. He says passage of Proposition 30, the tax measure that he joined Brown to campaign for across the state in 2012, pushed California back onto a path of academic progress.  Sacramento Bee article

Bakersfield Californian:  Kamala Harris only practical choice for AG – The California attorney general’s race demonstrates just how thin the state’s bench of Republican candidates is. Seeking a second four-year term, incumbent Democrat Attorney General Kamala Harris easily should be re-elected.  Bakersfield Californian editorial


Feds, local law enforcement clash over immigration arrests – Federal authorities acknowledge that the new strategy is more labor intensive and potentially more dangerous to officers and the community.  Orange County Register article

U.S. Chamber supports candidates who don’t share its immigration stance – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce publicly identifies immigration as one of its top issues and has pledged to support candidates who favor an overhaul that includes an earned path to citizenship for those here illegally. The business group’s pattern of endorsements and outside spending in this year’s elections, however, suggests that immigration may not be as important as advertised.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Other areas

Steinberg’s Senate reign marked by fiscal triumphs, peers’ scandals – Darrell Steinberg took the helm of the state Senate six years ago with the global economy in a meltdown that choked off tax revenue, causing the state budget deficit to balloon to $42 billion. It took Steinberg and other state leaders four years that included deep service cuts, worker furloughs, tax increases and the improving economy to right the ship of state, only to have a different set of troubles land in his lap. Steinberg watched in frustration as four of his Democratic colleagues were charged with criminal wrongdoing during his tenure as leader.  LA Times article

Marcus Breton: Strong-mayor initiative is not about a ‘power grab’ – Giving the mayor of Sacramento more authority is not a “power grab.” It’s what many other cities have already done to connect municipal authority to the people elected by voters.  Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Ruben Navarrette: A Latino reality check this election – The fog is lifting. Democrats haven’t been there when Latinos needed them. On Election Day, Latino voters are going to return the favor.  Navarette column in Sacramento Bee

Victor Davis Hanson: The politics of racial gymnastics – Once upon a time, the liberal position was to reject the old discriminatory branding of people by the color of their skins rather than by the content of their characters. Not now. Political and career advantage is found in trumpeting — or occasionally making up — genealogies.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

Dropping oil prices:  Good for consumers, potentially crippling for Kern – The plummeting oil prices bringing relief at fuel pumps around the country could soon have the opposite effect on Kern County’s economy. Thousands of local jobs and millions of dollars in property tax revenues may be on the line if oil continues the free fall that has cut barrel prices by about a quarter since June.  Bakersfield Californian article

Could desalination solve California’s water problem? – The eyes of a thirsty state are trained on this project: It is a crucial test for an industry eager to expand in California, where residents are famously protective of their coastline and also accustomed to relatively cheap water. In short, the Carlsbad project is challenging California’s status quo while also offering the tantalizing prospect of relief from drought.  Sacramento Bee articleMariel Garza column in Sacramento Bee

Jobs and the Economy

Casino has brought cash – and turmoil – to once impoverished Chukchansi tribe – Control of the $180 million, 300,000-square-foot casino near Coarsegold has been at the root of an endless cycle of tribal chairs, power grabs and disenrollments. Friends turned against friends. Warring factions and shifting alliances vied for supremacy as the tribe seemed forever mired in turmoil.  Fresno Bee article

Chukchansi drivers gather to address tribe’s problems – Chukchansi members gathered Saturday at their tribal offices in hopes of exercising their political muscle to solve the tribe’s problems — which many say aren’t being adequately addressed by their feuding leaders. Fresno Bee article

Fresno law firm accuses Walmart of chiseling its truck drivers – A small Fresno law firm is taking on Wal-Mart, accusing the retail giant of chiseling its drivers in a wage-theft case that will affect hundreds of truckers in the Valley and elsewhere.  Fresno Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: Row, row, row your boathouse – If we could erase Stockton and start all over again, we would start at the waterfront. To the cities fortunate enough to have it, water is naturally so central that its use is a given. Except here. Here, there is a baffling lack of amenities on the city’s primary geographical asset. It’s like being a snowy Colorado mountain town and not building a ski lift.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Drop in unemployment raises debate on optimal rate – The U.S. unemployment rate has been falling steadily over the years. Down from the recession peak of 10 percent in 2009, it reached 5.9 percent in September. That’s getting close to what economists call the natural unemployment rate — the normal level of joblessness you’d expect in a healthy economy. But a lot of economists are asking whether the old rules about full employment still apply.  NPR report

Longtime Fresno company Sunnyland Mills grinding it out – and growing – Tucked away in an industrial area of southeast Fresno is a modest-sized company with a growing reputation. You may not have heard of Sunnyland Mills, but you may soon. The family run company churns out 45,000 pounds of bulgur products a day, making it the largest producer in the nation.  Fresno Bee article

More helping hands for small businesses in Sacramento region – For Sacramento’s small businesses, more help is arriving. In the last year, a spate of new small-business programs have sprung up or been expanded, from loan centers to technology company financing to one-on-one counseling.  Sacramento Bee article


Tahoe level at 5-year lows; no Truckee River flows – Lingering drought has helped push Lake Tahoe’s water level below its natural rim for the first time in five years, cutting off flows into the Truckee River, which has been reduced to a shallow stream as it meanders down the Sierra through Reno.  AP article

Farms angry at Labor Department crackdown on suspected worker abuses – An attempted crackdown on minimum wage and child labor violations at berry farms in the Pacific Northwest has sparked a backlash that threatens one of the U.S. Labor Department’s most potent tools for enforcing protections for farm workers.  FairWarning article in Fresno Bee

Farm to Fork event showcases fresh, local produce – Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables took center stage at the Farm to Fork event at the Modesto Certified Farmers Market.  Modesto Bee article

Jack Hamm: Extolling benefits of farm bureau membership – The president of the San Joaquin Farm Bureau writes, “In a time when the impact of the recent recession remains deeply visible it is hard to contemplate spending even more of your hard earned money on a voluntary membership. However, a San Joaquin Farm Bureau member is not just any membership.”  Hamm op-ed in Stockton Record

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Tough love at call-in for gang members – The 90-minute meeting between church and assistance agency officials and police and probation officers is a periodic attempt to reduce gang-related violence by offering access to resources including vocational training, help with child support, even a meal.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton Record: Trying and troubling week – So you think your job is tough? Your vocation leaves you drained, frustrated and challenged? Consider the plight of the collective Stockton Police Department force by looking back at the past week.  Stockton Record editorial


Black Oakland students suspended less, but huge discrepancy remains – The school district here has reduced the number of suspensions of black students in the last three years, but they are still being taken out of school at a much higher rate than white students, according to a yearly report to the civil rights office of the U.S. Department of Education.  Oakland Tribune article

Too many maverick moments finally led to Deasy’s undoing at LA Unified – The Los Angeles Unified School District dumped a heap of trouble on its schools this fall when it rolled out a new student records system. In this moment of crisis, L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy came up with a novel response, one that positioned him where he had been many times before: flying solo, beyond the control of his elected bosses on the school board, campaigning for reform on a high-profile platform.  LA Times article


Giant sequoias may surprise us in a warmer future – Research ecologist Nathan Stephenson crawled around magnificent Giant Forest, checking young giant sequoias for damage from California’s three-year drought. Instead of stressed-out plants, he found young trees that looked pretty happy, he said. But at some point, he glanced upward and saw something startling.  Fresno Bee article

Ray Rasker: It’s time to get incentives right on wildfires – The executive director of Headwaters Economics writes, “Building homes with the Forest Service as a backyard always will be dangerous. We can manage wildfire to an extent, but need to learn to better live with fire which means we must alter the pace, scale and pattern of future development. For this task, nothing works as well as giving people incentives – negative consequences for decisions by local governments that increase risk, and positive rewards for decisions that reduce risk.”  Rasker in Sacramento Bee

Health/Human Services

Another Ebola scare in Dallas turns out just to be a scare – In Dallas, 48 people who came in contact with Duncan were being monitored for possible Ebola symptoms during the 21-day incubation period. A few have already cleared the 21-day period. The bulk of them, including a high-risk group of 10 people, are expected to end the monitoring period midnight Monday, Jenkins said.  LA Times article

Steve Swenson:  I’m ‘going to go out’ happy, grateful and comfortable – The retired Bakersfield Californian reporter writes, “The plan after I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer more than a year ago was to write a triumphant article about how I beat it. Well, that didn’t happen. The cancer won, and I’m on my way out.”  Swenson in Bakersfield Californian

Family of Turlock woman struggles with loss, fights for damages – More than 20 months ago, Nicole Dias of Turlock died after hospital staff allegedly failed to diagnose and treat a dangerous infection that rampaged through her body. Her husband and other family members continue a slow process of seeking damages for the 27-year-old woman’s death Jan. 19, 2013, at Kaiser Modesto Medical Center.  Modesto Bee article

Power of two – Shantesha Fluker had enough of losing everything dear to her. And Elena Salazar no longer could stand the disappointment in her mother’s face. They are two women with different stories brought together by a common struggle and a desire to conquer it. Fluker and Salazar met about six months ago at a residential rehabilitation facility. A years-long dependence on drugs had brought both women to a tipping point.  Stockton Record article

Land Use/Housing

Newman seeks urban growth boundary – This small city has big plans to increase its size by a quarter to accommodate a 360-acre master-planned community that will feature 1,200 homes and a business park and other development that will bring 2,000 jobs. But before this western Stanislaus County city can move forward with its plans, Newman voters will need to approve an urban growth boundary called Measure Z in the Nov. 4 election.  Modesto Bee article

Other Areas

Lewis Griswold: Visalia arts scene keeps town vibrant, panelists say – Rosalinda Verde grew up in Visalia and returned to her hometown to found the Visalia Opera Company. The company, which performed “Hansel and Gretel” and “Marriage of Figaro,” will next stage the mariachi opera “El Bracero” at noon Nov. 15 at Lincoln Oval Park. Visalia’s supportive arts culture made it possible to start an opera company, Verde said.  Griswold in Fresno Bee

Animal control officers sweep for strays, rescue mailman from menacing pit bull – Animal control officers joined forces Saturday for a sweep through southwest Modesto, the neighborhood where Tuesday’s deadly mauling by a pack of roaming pit bulls occurred. But a 911 call reporting a vicious dog in the northern area interrupted the sweep, with police going to the aid of a mailman trapped in a pickup bed.  Modesto Bee articleJeff Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Donald W. Blount: Long day’s ride – It was one of those times when I asked myself, “How did I get here?” It was 4:30 a.m. on a recent Saturday. It was dark. I was in Clovis and riding a bike. My goal was to ride 200 miles that day with an elevation gain, also known as climbing, of about 10,000 feet.  Blount column in Stockton Record

Transgender court to be honored for community work – Marty Gallego had had enough of the taunting, the physical attacks, the being made to feel different. At 17, six months shy of reaching 18, Gallego assumed the name Miss Monique, put on make-up and a dress and told the world: “I am who I am. Deal with it.” A few years later, Gallego, 63, helped found the Imperial San Joaquin Delta Empire and became the transgender court’s first empress.  Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  The California attorney general’s race demonstrates just how thin the state’s bench of Republican candidates is. Seeking a second four-year term, incumbent Democrat Attorney General Kamala Harris easily should be re-elected.

Fresno Bee – If he wins, Gov. Brown will have much on his plate.

Modesto Bee – Both campaigns are ugly, but Prop 46 has one redeeming feature.

Sacramento Bee – Assuming he wins on Nov. 4, and we do, Jerry Brown will have the experience, the know-how and political capital to make generational changes that would be the stuff of legacy.

Stockton Record – So you think your job is tough? Your vocation leaves you drained, frustrated and challenged? Consider the plight of the collective Stockton Police Department force by looking back at the past week.