October 2, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

SD14: Capitol has prominent role in ads for Central Valley seat –  Tumbleweeds, bill votes and legislative scandals get prominent roles in TV ads airing in a competitive state Senate race in the Central Valley. State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, who won a hard-fought special election in July 2013, is running for a full term against Fresno school board member Luis Chavez, a Democrat, in the Fresno-to-Bakersfield 14th Senate District.  Sacramento Bee article

In latest stance, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin voices support for same-sex marriage – In her run for state controller, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has reversed course — again — on same-sex marriage, telling a Republican group in Orange County last week that she supports marriage equality.  Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown – Bill signings/vetoes

Gift limits vetoed by Gov. Brown would have affected him little –  In vetoing a bill restricting gifts to elected officials, Gov. Jerry Brown was acting on a measure that would have affected his own practice of accepting perks, but not by much. Like most elected officials, the governor accepts gifts, but few of the kind and size that would have been prohibited by SB 1443.  LA Times article

Gov. Brown vetoes bill to expand California Voting Rights Act – An effort to expand California’s Voting Rights Act to allow claims of racial discrimination in the configuration of election districts has been vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Gov. Brown blocks expansion of injury leaves for emergency workers – Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed two little-noticed bills that would have expanded a special injury leave program that pays California’s emergency responders 100% of their salaries, tax-free, when they’re out with claimed ailments.  LA Times article

Brown Oks longer terms for child abuse prosecutions – but not for damage suits – The law treats child abuse differently than most other crimes, because of the age of the victims and their natural inclination to put their nightmares behind them. So the legal deadline, or statute of limitations, for filing criminal charges of child abuse is the victim’s 28th birthday, or even later if the victim hasn’t yet realized that the cause of his or her current emotional trauma was a long-forgotten sexual assault.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Brown criticized for veto of bill to reform toxic substances agency – Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of a bill to reform the California Department of Toxic Substances Control is drawing indignation from community groups and state legislators who had pressed for broad changes at the troubled agency.  LA Times article

William Endicott: Gov. Brown blows a big opportunity on ethics – The former deputy managing editor of the Sacramento Bee writes, “With the weakest of excuses, he vetoed several political ethics bills that might have helped restore at least a semblance of integrity to an institution – the Legislature – that is badly in need of an ethical facelift.” Endicott op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

CD16: VIDEO: Candidates Costa and Tacherra participate in local forum – The Merced County Association of Realtors held a forum Tuesday morning with 16th Congressional District candidates Jim Costa and Johnny Tacherra.  Merced Sun-Star article

Three-part forum gives Stockton council candidates chance to face-off – On the day a federal judge considered the city’s long-developed plan to exit the bankruptcy that has defined Stockton for the past two years, the candidates vying to lead the city into its still-uncertain future faced off in a series of forums Wednesday night.  Stockton Record article

Bakersfield council profile: Fiscal responsibility, being business-friendly important to Ward 4’s Smith – Bob Smith was elected to the City Council just more than 22 months ago to finish the term of David Couch, whom voters had picked to represent the 4th District on Kern County’s Board of Supervisors. He’s now running for his first full four-year term on the council — in the busiest of the election season’s four council races.  Bakersfield Californian article

Brem, Soiseth seek Turlock mayor’s post – Mike Brem retired recently as president of a food-processing company and decided to run for mayor. He faces Gary Soiseth, a young but accomplished farmer and water expert, in the Nov. 4 election. Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Chris Christie not stumping for Neel Kashkari during LA visit – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie arrives in Los Angeles on Wednesday for the start of a three-day, multistate fundraising swing for the Republican Governors Assn. But unlike in the other states Christie plans to visit, the potential 2016 presidential candidate is not holding a single public event with the GOP candidate for governor here, Neel Kashkari.  LA Times article

Referendum sought on plastic bag ban – The ink was barely dry on the governor’s signature to ban plastic bags when foes of his decision filed paperwork with the state attorney general’s office for a referendum in 2016 to overturn the new law.  Capitol Weekly article

Joel Fox: The plastic bag referendum and the connection to the secretary of state race – Senator Alex Padilla is the author of SB 270 and a candidate for Secretary of State. Will Padilla’s connection to the plastic bag ban become an issue in the Secretary of State’s race? With the 90-day period to collect signatures for the referendum ballot overlapping the last month of the election campaign, how often is Padilla’s name mentioned by the signature gatherers? And will voters make the connection? Fox in Fox & Hounds

George Skelton: Prop 46 is on the ballot to pick up Legislature’s slack – Proposition 46 is a classic example of a citizens’ initiative that should never have been on the ballot. It’s also a classic example of why some initiative system is needed so citizens can do their own lawmaking when the elected lawmakers won’t.  Skelton column in LA Times

Tony Quinn: The non-election election – What if they called an election and nobody came?  That seems to be the story this November.  Turnout for the June primary, just 25 percent of registered voters, was the lowest in history.  The November turnout will probably not surpass 45 percent, also an historic low.  Quinn in Fox & Hounds

Other areas

Chorus mounts for Senate to release nepotism investigation – The chorus of voices calling on the California Senate to release an investigation it commissioned into complaints of nepotism grew Wednesday, with two Republicans and two Democrats joining Democratic Sen. Mark DeSaulnier in saying the findings should be made public. Capitol Alert

Law enforcement officials voice support for Sacramento ‘strong mayor’ – A group of current and former law enforcement officials announced Wednesday they were endorsing Measure L, the November ballot measure in Sacramento seeking to increase the powers of the mayor.  Sacramento Bee article
Sacramento County taxpayers on the hook for elections office mistakes – A pair of blunders by the Sacramento County elections office that omitted information from the sample ballot booklet sent to thousands of registered voters is costing taxpayers more than $68,000 and has the potential to affect voting in the November election.  Sacramento Bee article

State government’s anti-secrecy law under scrutiny – A California law intended to block secret decisions in the state bureaucracy actually prevents officials from talking to each other on crucial matters, according to their testimony before a state investigative panel.  Capitol Weekly article

Wait ‘til 2016, Nancy Pelosi says – Five weeks out from the midterm elections, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco came close to conceding the obvious Wednesday — that Democrats will not retake the House. Instead, Pelosi said, she’s confident that after the 2016 elections, there will be a Democratic House majority and a Democratic president.  San Francisco Chronicle article

After string of missteps, Secret Service director resigns – Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned Wednesday in the face of multiple revelations of security breaches, bumbling in her agency and rapidly eroding confidence that the president and his family were being kept safe.  AP article

News Briefs

Top Stories

The wait continues on Stockton’s bankruptcy plan – The limbo-like holding pattern in which bankrupt Stockton has found itself for the past 27 months will continue at least until Oct. 30, leaving the city facing a minimum of four more weeks of uncertainty in its saga of fiscal upheaval.  Stockton Record articleMichael Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

CalPERS gets decision: Judge rules Stockton can sever its city pensions – A bankruptcy judge handed CalPERS and organized labor a decision they’ve long feared Wednesday, declaring the city of Stockton has the right to reduce pension payments and even sever ties with the powerful pension fund.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleAP articleNew York Times articleAP articleCalpensions articleDan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Valley growers take fight against water cutbacks to Supreme Court – San Joaquin Valley growers Wednesday filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court, hoping to reverse an appellate court’s rejection of their claim that flawed science was used to cut back water pumping in Northern California.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno City Hall cheers as Moody’s raises city’s credit rating outlook – City officials were all smiles Tuesday on news that Moody’s Investors Services has boosted Fresno’s long-term credit ratings outlook from stable to positive. That may not sound like much to trumpet. To a City Hall worried only 18 months ago about bankruptcy, it’s cause for tempered satisfaction.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Ruling in Stockton bankruptcy case could affect San Bernardino’s case – A decision Wednesday by the judge at Stockton’s bankruptcy trial that allows bankrupt cities to treat the California Public Employees’ Retirement system like other debtors might open the door for other insolvent cities that could want to cut back on expensive pension obligations — including San Bernardino.  LA Daily News article

$15.37 minimum wage heads to Garcetti’s desk as hotel group complains –  As the Los Angeles City Council gave final approval Wednesday to a minimum wage increase for workers in large hotels, opponents of the measure reminded city officials they’re not going down without a fight.  LA Times article

San Francisco, Oakland at forefront of U.S. minimum wage movement – With the city in a second tech boom and facing the nation’s fastest-growing income gap, Proposition J on the November ballot would propel San Francisco to similar high ground, raising the minimum wage from $10.74 an hour to $15 by July 2018. The San Francisco measure and one on the ballot in Oakland to raise the minimum wage to $12.25 are seen as a spearhead in the nationwide push by labor to raise the pay of low-wage workers.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno City Hall hires help to find a buyer for Grizzlies – Fresno City Hall wants to bring in some big timber to help find a buyer for the Fresno Grizzlies. The City Council on Thursday is slated to debate whether veteran sports consultant Dan Barrett can end the frustration that has come to surround the ownership of Fresno’s Triple A baseball team.  Fresno Bee article

Merced County lawmaker leads charge to modify Americans with Disabilities Act – A Merced County legislator is leading the charge to modify the Americans with Disabilities Act after a series of Merced Sun-Star stories exposed how some litigants file hundreds of lawsuits against local businesses. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, announced Tuesday that his office will bring together a local working group of community leaders and business owners from Merced and Stanislaus counties to discuss the ADA and potential changes.  Merced Sun-Star article

State firefighters battle for better pay – While state firefighters have battled the epic King fire west of Lake Tahoe, their union has been struggling with a political question: What can they expect financially in the future from Gov. Jerry Brown?  Sacramento Bee article

Home rental returns weak in San Joaquin County, state – Returns on single-family home rentals in San Joaquin County, as well as much of California, are relatively poor because of strong median home prices, RealtyTrac Inc. reported today.  Stockton Record article

List: Fresno low risk for home investors – Fresno was named among the safest real estate markets for investors looking into single family homes, according to quarterly data by HomeVestors of America, Inc. The Business Journal article

SoCal housing markets among most overvalued, but at least we’re not Austin – Southern California’s housing markets are among the most overvalued in the nation, according to a new report. But the closest thing in this country to a housing bubble is actually in Texas.  LA Times article

Walmart invests in Oildale – An often-overlooked stretch of North Chester Avenue stole the spotlight Wednesday as Oildale celebrated the opening of a neighborhood grocery store some hope will spark additional investment nearby.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton Record: Thunder owner played a great ‘option’ – Ownership changes in minor-league sports are common. It’s no surprise that the Alberta oil businessman has put the team on the block. But it’s comforting to know that regardless who buys the team, it will remain in Stockton for the near future.  Stockton Record editorial

State board cites 13 unlicensed contractors in Fresno Craigslist sting – Investigators with the state Contractors State License Board cited 13 people for illegally contracting without a license in a two-day sting operation in Fresno after reaching out to handymen advertising on the free classified-ad site Craigslist.  Fresno Bee article

Funding keeps Hanford youth program alive – Last month, KCAO’s Joey Cox had his fingers crossed, hoping that a successful after-school program for south Hanford youth wouldn’t go belly up after just one year. The $86,000 state grant that launched it in 2013 was dwindling. Cox applied for a Community Services Block Grant to extend the program’s life. He received news last month of an additional $51,909 awarded. To get the grant, Cox added a job training element to the program.  Hanford Sentinel article


Initiative aiming to protect Modesto farmland takes step forward – The proponents of placing an urban boundary around Modesto to protect prime farmland took a big step Wednesday toward bringing their proposal before voters.  Modesto Bee article

Bakersfield pondering new water restrictions – Bakersfield’s city Water Board is exploring a voluntary program in which customers in different zip codes could only irrigate their properties on specified days to improve conservation.  Bakersfield Californian article

All Tulare County deemed in exceptional drought – The National Drought Mitigation Center’s latest report has declared all Tulare County in exceptional drought, making it seven consecutive months the area has the highest ranking the federal agency gives.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Anti-union Gerawan workers rally against state labor board – About 200 field workers from Gerawan Farming gathered at a downtown Fresno hotel Wednesday, urging the state to resolve a 10-month-old election to determine if they will remain members of the United Farm Workers union.  Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Legislation eliminates a state mandatory drug sentencing law – As Californians prepare to vote on lower sentences for drug possession, state lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown have quietly acted to eliminate the current 90-day mandatory jail term for being under the influence of illegal narcotics. San Francisco Chronicle article

Turlock Police Department awarded federal grant to help add, retain officers – The Turlock Police Department is among 28 California law enforcement agencies to be awarded a federal grant intended to add or retain officers. Pending approval from the City Council on Oct. 14, the Turlock Police Department will receive $500,000 to fund four positions. Officer Mayra Lewis, the department’s spokeswoman, said the money will fund 40 percent of the officers’ salaries and benefits for three years. The council will vote on whether to approve a 60 percent contribution of $700,000 before the city can accept the grant.  Modesto Bee article

Atwater Police Department awarded federal grant to help add officers – Atwater will receive $773,823 to hire two officers who will be assigned to patrol. The Atwater grant does not require a local match.  Merced Sun-Star article

Lack of LAPD civilian staff keeping officers on streets, officials say – Los Angeles city officials say they want to hire more civilian staff for the Los Angeles Police Department and are worried that a shortage is cutting into the time officers spend patrolling the streets.  LA Times article

DA investigators work behind the scenes – District Attorney investigators often work behind the scenes. They’re rarely called out before a crime has occurred but are almost always the last arm of law enforcement to touch a case before trial.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Family of woman killed in crash involving Kern deputy retains law firm – The family of a 72-year-old woman killed in a weekend crash involving a Kern County sheriff’s deputy has retained attorneys to represent them as the investigation into the accident continues.  Bakersfield Californian article

Riverdale man, three teens arrested in bludgeoning of 900 Foster Farms chickens with golf clubs – An 18-year Riverdale man and three juveniles are in custody in connection with the slaughter of more than 900 chickens in Caruthers, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said early Thursday.  Fresno Bee article


Cal State campuses begin accepting fall 2015 applications – California State University campuses on Wednesday began accepting applications for the fall 2015 term and officials expect the numbers to exceed last year’s record. The system’s 23 campuses received more than 760,000 undergraduate applications for fall 2014. Officials hope to increase enrollment by about 12,000 students next fall, a figure that still falls short of expected demand.  LA Times article

Reports of sexual assaults rise across UC system – Reports of sexual assaults on or near University of California campuses rose by almost 50 percent last year, an indication that widespread protests over the way colleges handle allegations of rape and assault are having an impact.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Merced’s colleges report crimes for past year – Crime statistics for reports of illegal activity on college and university campuses were released Wednesday, the deadline for UC Merced and Merced College.  Merced Sun-Star article

Gov. Brown acts on student-related bill – Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed bills to mandate kindergarten and tinker with aspects of the state’s new school funding formula, and he signed bills providing more protections for student privacy as he rushed to review a sea of bills this week to meet the Sept. 30 deadline for acting on legislation.  EdSource article

Bill could lead to bachelor’s degrees at Merced College – Senate Bill 850 will allow colleges to experiment with four-year degrees and could possibly lead to those degrees at Merced College. The pilot program is set to begin no later than the 2017-18 academic year and end in 2024. In recent years, advocates have argued that growing industry demand for more educated workers in fields such as dental hygiene and automotive technology could be met by expanding existing programs at community colleges. Mary K. Gilliland, the vice president of instruction at Merced College, said the four-year bachelor’s degrees have the highest potential of being offered for vocational jobs that have begun to ask for more skills from applicants. Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno State awarded for innovative programs – The American Association of State Colleges and Universities announced two awards to Fresno State recently in honor of its excellence and innovation in some major areas of campus life and leadership. The annual awards will be given out to seven colleges this year that have made great advances in the areas of student success and college completion, regional and economic development, leadership and diversity and international education.  The Business Journal article

New U.S. history curriculum sparks education battle of 2014 –  To improve the Advanced Placement class for U.S. history, some of the best and brightest history scholars in the country worked for six years on a new curriculum. The idea was to replace traditional memorization with more emphasis on critical thinking and some key periods in American history, such as the 1980s. It all seemed innocuous enough. Maybe even a tad dry. Then it exploded.  LA Times article

Nan Austin: On Campus: New, future teachers receive advice from current ones – In all the tumult over Common Core, one group has gotten little press: the teachers who did not have to retrain and start over, the ones just starting out. At the California State University, Stanislaus, Student to Teacher Conference, I got to hear advice for new and future teachers from 10 educators only slightly more seasoned.  Austin in Modesto Bee

The Grade: School board candidates lay out their priorities; Brown acts on education bills – We asked candidates in contested Kern High School District and Kern Community College District races to spell out their priorities and qualifications to serve. They answered in interviews, on campaign websites and in Californian questionnaires.  Also, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed two of four bills Tuesday in a legislation package aimed at improving school attendance.  Bakersfield California article

Student ‘intimidated’ into reciting Pledge of Allegiance gets apology – Compelling an atheist high school student to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance against his will was a mistake rooted in ignorance of his 1st Amendment protections, a misperception that apparently existed throughout the Oak Park Unified School District, the superintendent said.  LA Times article

LA school board authorizes talks on departure agreement with Deasy – The Los Angeles Board of Education has authorized its attorneys to discuss terms of a possible departure agreement with schools Supt. John Deasy, The Times has learned.  LA Times article


State high court Oks water cuts on Russian River to aid salmon – The state Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed California regulators to order farmers along the Russian River to reduce cold-weather water sprays that have helped preserve their crops while killing thousands of endangered salmon.  San Francisco Chronicle article

PG&E loses bid to strip San Bruno reference from indictment – A federal judge has rejected Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s effort to strip any mention of the deadly San Bruno gas explosion from the criminal indictment against the company, saying the blast was clearly a justifiable element of the government’s case.  San Francisco Chronicle article

PG&E tests tech adapted from NASA’s Mars rover – Pacific Gas and Electric is testing a new device for detecting methane leaks. The sensor is based on a tool that’s mounted on NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover. NASA designed PG&E’s new gadget, too, which the utility says is 1,000 times more sensitive than the hand-held equipment it’s been using to track down leaks. KQED report

Waterford to unveil solar, energy-efficiency project – City officials will unveil a solar and energy-efficiency project Thursday afternoon that they say will save the city $2.3 million over 25 years.  Modesto Bee article

Health/Human Services

Brown vetoes adult day health bill; future of program unknown – On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill to codify Community Based Adult Services as a Medi-Cal benefit and continue offering it as a benefit into the future.  KQED report

Enterovirus D-68 infection confirmed in LA County –  It was an announcement local doctors figured they might hear before long: that kids in Los Angeles County had been diagnosed with a mysterious virus known to have sickened hundreds of children in the U.S. this year.  LA Times article

New UC Davis mental health research center will pursue mysteries of the brain – With much fanfare and a blue ribbon-cutting ceremony, UC Davis officials unveiled plans Wednesday for a new pair of ambitious academic mental-health research centers – one in Sacramento at the UC Davis medical campus and the other in Southern California, run by UCLA.  Sacramento Bee article

Patsy Ouellette: Is breast cancer preventable? We are the drivers of our culture – The retired Bakersfield teacher writes, “As admirable as all the effort is — the fundraising, the pink logos, the walks — it’s time for American women to realize that the Department of Public Health, the National Cancer Institute and the medical community are failing us by insisting on this unrelenting search for a cure when it is becoming evident that this is largely a lifestyle disease and needs to be addressed as such.” Ouellette op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Free birth control cuts teen pregnancy, abortion – Giving teens free birth control encourages them to use long-acting methods and greatly cuts the chances they will become pregnant or have an abortion, a new study finds.  AP article

Catholic group challenges California abortion coverage – A national clash over religious objections to health care coverage has arrived in California with an administrative challenge assailing mandatory inclusion of abortions.  Capitol Alert

Modesto’s Bethany Christian Services grateful for response to budget aid call – When Bethany Christian Services sent out a $150,000 budget S.O.S. in September, officials at the nonprofit adoption and pregnancy resource agency had no idea the community would respond so generously. Nearly $87,000 in donations had been tallied as of Wednesday afternoon, with hopes and expectations that money will continue to be received.  Modesto Bee article

Jahi McMath’s family wants her declared ‘alive again’ – Nearly 10 months after doctors found that Oakland teenager Jahi McMath was brain dead, an attorney for her family has petitioned an Alameda County judge to have her declared “alive again.”  San Francisco Chronicle article


Construction blunder looked at in bridge tower’s rod problem – Caltrans officials are investigating whether about 400 high-strength rods holding down the tower on the new Bay Bridge’s eastern span were exposed to water because workers adjusting them in 2011 broke their watertight seals to surrounding grout.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other Areas

Ending the pot prohibition – Washington State and Colorado have legalized marijuana, and voters in Oregon and Alaska will decide next month whether to make it legal in their states. And there’s a good chance that Californians will vote on whether to fully legalize the drug within the next couple of years, a lobbyist for Tulare County told the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday night.  Visalia Times-Delta article

‘First Look’: Kern Supervisor David Couch talks KMC, Indian Wells Valley water – Kern County Supervisor David Couch said the Board of Supervisors approved a $5 million addition at Kern Medical Center to make the hospital more efficient. Wednesday on “First Look with Scott Cox,” Couch said the county is ultimately paying less money for more qualified people.  Bakersfield Californian article

Lodi courthouse set to reopen next year – The Lodi court branch is on track to re-open in early 2015 after being closed for more than two years. Court Chief Executive Officer Rosa Junqueiro said the plan is to resume services soon at the branch, located at 315 W. Elm Street, making it easier for the town’s residents to take care of legal matters.  Stockton Record article

Bell Gardens’ mayor’s wife shot him to stop him from beating son, sources say – Levette Crespo shot her husband, Bell Gardens Mayor Daniel Crespo, to stop him from beating their 19-year-old son, law enforcement sources told The Times on Wednesday.  LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Director’s resignation shouldn’t be the end of Secret Service cleanup.

Merced Sun-Star – Obamacare is working despite growing pains.

Modesto Bee – Obamacare is working despite growing pains.

Sacramento Bee – Assemblyman Roger Dickinson is best to fill Darrell Steinberg’s seat; Assemblyman Ken Cooley should get a second term.

Stockton Record – Ownership changes in minor-league sports are common. It’s no surprise that the Alberta oil businessman has put the Stockton Thunder on the block. But it’s comforting to know that regardless who buys the team, it will remain in Stockton for the near future; V is for vote, so do it.