October 20, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Democrats’ hopes of Senate supermajority could rest with two districts – The Democrats’ quest to regain their supermajority in the state Senate could be decided next month in an ethnically diverse section of Orange County and a large swath of farmland and rural towns about 300 miles away in the Central Valley. Those two battlegrounds have drawn much of the attention and money of both major parties as the Nov. 4 election approaches. The races are the only two so far in which Gov. Jerry Brown has intervened with broadcast ads for the Democratic candidates.  LA Times article

Jerry Brown’s team releases a slew of upbeat new Props 1 and 2 ads – While he still hasn’t done a single ad for his own 2014 re-election campaign, California Gov.Jerry Brown will hit the airwaves again Monday to push two state ballot measures — this time with a new TV spot that gives a subtle nod to the legacy of his father, the late Gov. Pat Brown.  San Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee article

Valley politics

John Ostlund:  Show your pride, renew ‘Z’ –  The partner in One Putt Broadcasting and president of The Fulton Group writes, “While I fully expect Measure Z to pass by the same vast majority it did 10 years ago, there are over 75,000 new residents in our area who weren’t living here in 2004. Hopefully, the following information will be helpful to those considering their position on this critical ballot measure.” Ostlund op-ed in Fresno Bee

Two candidates seek Area 4 seat with Tulare city school board – Running for the Area 4 seat with the Tulare City School District Board of Trustees are two candidates, incumbent Phil Plascencia, who has served on Tulare’s school board for 23 years, and Priscilla Musgrove, a 15-year Tulare resident who retired after 25 years with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in Corcoran.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

For down-ticket Democrats, Jerry Brown is a rare sight – It was a first in this election year when Gov. Jerry Brown appeared in a TV ad recently for a state Senate candidate in Southern California. Brown has done little visibly to help other members of his party.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: Record-low turnout looms in California – California, which set a record for low participation in June’s primary election, will likely set another low mark for a general election in November. California’s voter turnout has been eroding for decades, but a unique set of factors this year will likely push it down even lower than usual. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Chiang seeks to shuffle from controller to treasurer – Termed-out as state controller, Democrat John Chiang is playing political musical chairs by running for state treasurer and appears to be a shoo-in to win.  AP article

Doctors’ drug tests: A divisive issue – The issue of testing doctors for drug use is a key part of Proposition 46, which has become the focus of huge campaign spending — most of it spent to defeat the initiative.  The measure also would raise the cap on pain and suffering awards in medical malpractice cases, which has been $250,000 since the 1970s, to reflect cost-of-living increases. If approved, the new cap would be about $1.1 million.  Capitol Weekly article


Valley’ undocumented gear up for driver’s licenses – Graciela Iniguez guesses she has spent $12,000 on traffic tickets and vehicle impound fees since she started driving 20 years ago. As an undocumented immigrant from Jalisco, Mexico, Iniguez drives without a license. But that’s soon to change. Starting Jan. 1, California residents who can’t prove they are in United States legally will be allowed to obtain driver’s licenses under Assembly Bill 60, which Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last year.  Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Fracking ban on ballot in tiny San Benito County has big statewide implications – San Benito was the first California county to decide to take the issue to the voters. Campaign ads bankrolled by the oil industry are filling TV and radio airwaves, claiming that a fracking ban would hurt the county’s economy and trample property rights. And the issue is straining longtime friendships among farmers and ranchers.  San Jose Mercury News article

George Skelton: de León throws extravagant bash as Steinberg quietly leaves – State Sen. Darrell Steinberg officially stepped off the stage last week. And Sen. Kevin de León stepped on it. Did he ever!  Skelton column in LA Times

Lemoore-based squadron takes lead in attacking Islamic State – Military units based in California have now been given the lead in the U.S.-led campaign of bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.  LA Times article

Fresno establishes first Armenian honorary consul – Fresno is now home to the country’s first Honorary Consul of the Republic of Armenia. Armenian dignitaries and Fresno County representatives are hosting an inaugural ceremony for the new consul at 5 p.m. Monday on the 8th floor of the Pacific Southwest Building.  Fresno Bee article

Dan Walters Daily: Negative campaigns take over election season – Political ads are flooding the airwaves in the weeks before the election, but take them all with a grain of salt, Dan says. Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Latinos, angry with Obama, may sit out midterm vote, hurting Democrats – Latino voting tends to drop in midterm elections and, as Trujillo’s sentiment suggests, that may prove all the more so next month, given deep frustration with the president.  LA Times article

White House fights ACLU suit over database of ‘suspicious’ acts – The Obama administration has asked a San Francisco federal judge to dismiss an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging a federally established police database of individuals’ “suspicious activities” that may not be criminal but are allegedly linked to terrorism. San Francisco Chronicle article

Ben Carson addresses San Joaquin Community Hospital physicians – Last year’s annual San Joaquin Community Hospital medical staff meeting drew 50 people. Sunday night nearly 300 attended to hear celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon, best-selling author, Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate Dr. Benjamin Carson share recollections of his journey to medicine and his dreams for the future.  Bakersfield Californian article

News Briefs

Top Stories

As their wells run dry, California residents blame thirsty farms – Imagine flushing the toilet and watching sand come up. That’s what happened to Pam Vieira, who lives south of Modesto, Calif. Her water well has slowed to a trickle, and you can see the sand in the tank of her toilet. Vieira is one of as many as 2 million rural California residents who rely on private domestic wells for drinking water.  NPR report

Gov. Brown to meet with nursing groups to discuss Ebola preparations – Leaders of two nursing organizations say they plan to meet Tuesday with Gov. Jerry Brown to call on the state to upgrade Ebola training and safety precautions for California health professionals.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Yvonne Walker: Wall Street about to win in Stockton at expense of middle class – The president of Service Employees International Union, Local 1000, writes, “The net effect of Judge Christopher Klein’s decision, if upheld by higher courts, would be another win for Wall Street at the expense of the middle class, where most workers are unable to save enough to retire.”  Walker op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Los Angeles officials reach tentative salary deal with firefighters – Los Angeles officials have reached a tentative salary agreement with the city’s firefighters’ union that provides no raises in the current fiscal year and a 2% boost next summer.  LA Times article

How CalPERS ranks: average service, high costs – A new comparison with four other large public pension funds found that CalPERS, while scoring average on service, had high pension administration costs — $213 per member a year, nearly twice the average of $108 per member.  Calpensions article

Survey: Pay raises rare despite strong U.S. hiring – U.S. businesses were much less likely to boost pay in the third quarter than in previous months, even as hiring remained healthy, a sign that wage gains may remain weak in the coming months.  AP article

Berkeley considers outlawing pet restrictions on rentals – Apartment hunters having an impossible time finding pet-friendly dwellings may want to set their sights on Berkeley, which is considering a first-of-its-kind law that would forbid landlords from imposing pet restrictions on tenants.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Geothermal power industry lost steam but may be poised for comeback – The industry’s shortsightedness — and its slowness to innovate — left geothermal floundering for three decades in the shadows of the solar and wind energy juggernauts. Now, industry leaders say the energy harnessed from the Earth is poised for a renaissance, powered by new technology that will boost production, pare costs and expand its reach.  LA Times article


Merced supervisors to consider first draft of groundwater ordinance – The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday will get its first glimpse of a draft groundwater ordinance that regulates out-of-county sales, in addition to the possible creation of a financial assistance program to help county residents repair dried-up domestic wells.  Merced Sun-Star article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

On Duty: A chance to say no to drug abuse – Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. The week serves as a vehicle for communities and individuals to take a stand for the hopes and dreams of our children.  On Duty column in Fresno Bee


Modesto schools board to discuss new approach to student wellness – The Modesto City Schools board will have a lengthy closed session Oct. 20 followed by a short agenda for its regular meeting, including new job descriptions and an overhaul of its wellness policy.  Modesto Bee article

Area school districts getting federal money to provide healthier food choices for students – Schools in Ballico-Cressey and Catheys Valley areas have received nearly $55,000 in federal funds that ultimately will help provide healthier food choices for their students.  Merced Sun-Star article

Advisors work to freeze ‘summer melt,’ get students to college – Researchers focusing on summer melt estimate that between 10% and 30% of students from some urban high schools who register for colleges wind up not starting fall classes at those campuses. That occurs even though many are headed to low-tuition community colleges. LA Times article

National school boards group ends tobacco partnership  – The National School Boards Association ended its health curriculum partnership with R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. last week, highlighting the longstanding efforts of tobacco companies to influence what students are taught about cigarette smoking.  EdSource article


Don Curlee: Waste-to-power notion crumbles – Thor Bailey of Chico has spent 30 years chasing the dream of turning agricultural waste into reliable power. He’s redirecting his efforts to communicating the more realistic conclusion that it doesn’t work.  Curlee column in Visalia Times-Delta

Health/Human Services

Pentagon announces Ebola rapid-response team for U.S. cases of virus – The Pentagon announced Sunday it is putting together a 30-person rapid-response team that could provide quick medical support to civilian healthcare workers if additional cases of the Ebola virus are diagnosed in the United States.  LA Times article

Another Ebola challenge: Disposing of medical waste – A single Ebola patient treated in a U.S. hospital will generate eight 55-gallon barrels of medical waste each day. LA Times article

West Nile cases surging in state, Bay Area – In the midst of a historic drought, public health officials are searching for clues as to why cases of West Nile virus have exploded statewide since last year, making this season the worst for human infections in California since 2005.  Contra Costa Times article

Merced Matters:  Former pastor helps people overcome traumatic childhood experiences – Understanding and overcoming the effects of a difficult childhood are essential for a healthy adult life, at least according to Dave Lockridge’s research findings. Lockridge, 61, is the founder and executive director of ACE Overcomers, a local program that focuses on helping people understand the mental, physical and cognitive effects of adverse childhood experiences.  Merced Sun-Star article


Union Pacific boosts rail inspections in high-hazard mountain passes – Faced with public concern about the risks of crude oil shipments, the Union Pacific railroad last month boosted its rail inspection program on mountain passes in California and the West, dispatching high-tech vehicles with lasers to check tracks for imperfections. Sacramento Bee article

San Francisco’s Prop A is first step on road to put driving last – There’s a lot more to San Francisco’s $500 million Proposition A than fixing roads — it’s really the first step in a master plan to put buses, bikes and pedestrians on the fast track and move cars into the slow lane.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Not registered to vote? Today is the deadline.

Merced Sun-Star – Don’t miss your chance to register for election next month.

Modesto Bee – Don’t miss your chance to register for election next month.

Sacramento Bee – Sign up to vote today, then vote, annoy the pundits.

Visalia Times-Delta – Thumbs Up to the Tulare business owners who got together to save access to a popular mail box dropbox by banding together to lease the land on which it stands.