October 20, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

CD 21: Observers: Valadao ad a critical tactical move — Congressman David Valadao’s new attack ad churned up a lot of talk in political circles, including speculation about why his team flew the piece so close to Election Day. Bakersfield Californian article 

Why business groups aren’t fighting California’s tobacco and income tax hike initiatives — Now, with new versions of both the income and tobacco taxes on the statewide ballot, money from the business community isn’t there and neither is the same level of opposition. Instead, many business groups are reluctantly resigned to an extension of the higher income tax rates and, in some cases, are even promoting the cigarette tax hike. LA Times article

Valley politics

Valadao blasts Huerta over decade-old real estate deal – The 21st Congressional District race started sizzling this week as Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, dropped a hard-hitting attack ad on Democratic opponent Emilio Huerta. The ad marks a dramatic turn in the tone of the race with just 20 days left before Election Day. Bakersfield Californian article

Local medical pot initiative draws closer to 2018 ballot — An initiative calling on voters to do away with Bakersfield’s pot shop ban cleared an important hurdle between it and the November 2018 ballot. Organizers filed petitions with nearly 33,000 signatures at City Hall North, seeking to bring the Medical Cannabis Initiative to voters in two years. Bakersfield Californian article 

San Joaquin County, Stockton candidates meet for second round of forums – There were no verbal jabs or swings taken in a second round of candidates forums hosted by Fathers & Families of San Joaquin on Wednesday night. Stockton Record article 

Youths to grill Merced mayoral hopefuls – Young people will get to ask the questions of Merced’s four mayoral candidates during a forum Thursday. Merced Sun-Star article 

Randy Villegas: This Nov. 8, Queer the Vote for mayor – The CSU Bakersfield student writes, “Karen Goh and Kyle Carter both have strong roots in Bakersfield and I applaud them both for their respective accomplishments. However, both of these candidates have failed to fully and openly embrace the LGBTQ community in Kern. That’s why, this election cycle, residents of Bakersfield should stand in solidarity with our LGBTQ community, and not support either candidate. Instead, fill in the bubble underneath both of their names and write in: Queer the Vote.” Villegas op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Lemoore candidate expenses — Candidates who are running for the Lemoore City Council appear to have different ways of financing their campaigns for next month’s election. Hanford Sentinel article 

Stockton City Council District 6 candidates agree on need for jobs — For the past four years, District 6 City Councilman Michael Tubbs has repeated the phrase “reinvent south Stockton” almost as if it was a mantra. With Tubbs running for mayor, though, south Stockton’s attention turns to who will be next to represent and attempt to revitalize a portion of the city that the civil grand jury found last year to be the victim of “longstanding neglect.” Stockton Record article 

Q&A: Questions for Merced City Council District 3 – The Merced Sun-Star questions the candidates for Merced City Council District 3.  Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

California’s gun-control initiative would toughen already strict laws – California already has some of the nation’s strictest gun regulations, and they could get even stricter if voters pass Proposition 63 this November. Here’s what you need to know about the ballot measure. Sacramento Bee article 

Money from Jerry Brown, others pours into anti-Prop 53 effort — The campaign against Proposition 53 has sharply picked up its fundraising in recent days, with Gov. Jerry Brown putting millions of dollars into the effort to defeat the Nov. 8 measure that would require a vote on state revenue bonds and potentially cripple the Brown-championed Delta water tunnel and bullet train projects. Sacramento Bee article 

Katy Grimes: Prop 53 will give voters a voice on mega-projects – The president of the Sacramento Taxpayers Association writes, “Proposition 53 puts an end to blank-check spending and says that if voters have to pay, then they deserve to have a say.” Grimes op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Lou Paulson: Prop 53 could block badly needed local projects – The president of California Professional Firefighters writes, “We cannot allow one multimillionaire’s personal agenda to dictate policy that would send California infrastructure projects down a long and winding rabbit hole. The last thing our state needs is more roadblocks to keeping our communities livable and safe.” Paulson op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

George Skelton: The tobacco industry’s strategy to kill a new statewide cigarette tax: Blow a lot of smoke – Finally, there’s something to laugh at in this glum election season. Thanks to the tobacco lobby. Skelton column in LA Times 

Ballot measure seeks to regulate ammunition sales, take guns from felons — Depending on whom you ask, it’s a question of either common sense or constitutional rights: Should ammunition be treated like guns are, with background checks for buyers and limits on who can sell? It’s one of several questions facing voters within Proposition 63, a gun control measure sponsored by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. KQED report 

Robin Abcarian: These 76-year-old twins have grown pot for decades.  Here’s why they oppose legalization — You don’t end up in Round Valley, one of Mendocino County’s finest cannabis-growing micro climates, by accident. It is well northwest of Highway 101, along a winding mountain road that follows the curves of Outlet Creek and the Middle Fork of the Eel River. Abcarian in LA Times 

Amy Arlund: Join nurses in voting ‘yes’ on Proposition 61 to lower drug prices – The registered nurse from Fresno writes, “We need to hold the pharmaceutical companies responsible for overcharging all of us. The way to begin is by voting “yes” on Proposition 61.” Arlund op-ed in Fresno Bee 

What will Lt. Gov. Newsom focus on in his run for governor? Aging infrastructure among issues – Signaling that his gubernatorial campaign will shift into higher gear after next month’s election, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that he is working on a plan to double spending on roads and other infrastructure since the Legislature failed to act this year. LA Times article 

Newsom, seeking governor’s office, now backs high-speed rail – Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that he no longer opposes California’s $64 billion high-speed rail plan, after withdrawing support for the project more than two years ago. AP article 

Gavin Newsom meets with Capitol press, makes no news — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom often advertises that he favors candor over coyness. Meeting with reporters Wednesday in Sacramento, he was upfront about his motives: “My goal today is to make absolutely no news.” He largely succeeded. Sacramento Bee article

California Secretary of State makes final pitch to college students: Register to vote — At Sacramento State on Tuesday afternoon, Secretary of State Alex Padilla explained to about 250 college students why they should register to vote before the Oct. 24 deadline. Vida en el Valle article

Other areas 

San Jose could require gun owners to lock firearms at home when they’re away – Gun owners in the city may have to lock up their firearms when they’re not at home under a proposal a City Council committee considered Wednesday that the police chief said could be enacted by next winter. San Jose Mercury News article 

Air board contemplates cap-and-trade’s future — Who gets what when, in the popular formulation, works as shorthand for a lot of of political debates. It’s proving to be a critical dynamic as California debates the future of its centerpiece climate change program.  Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Debate turns contentious; Trump won’t say whether he’ll accept election results – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump threw character and judgment charges at each other in a final contentious debate Wednesday, with Trump refusing to commit to accepting the election’s results. McClatchy Newspapers article; Washington Post article;Sacramento Bee editorial; Cathleen Decker in LA Times; New York Times article 

Jeff Jardine: Trump’s rigged election claim doesn’t register with region’s registrars of voters – The election is rigged, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claims. Really? That would be news to the people who run the elections around here and virtually everywhere else in the nation. To rig an election you have to manipulate the equipment in the hands of county registrars of voters across the nation who stake their reputations on running accurate, fair and honest elections. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Victor Davis Hanson: Exhausted? A long strange trip remains to Nov. 8 — In this outlandish year, the winner will be the survivor who crawls barely alive over the Nov. 8 finish line – without having been blown up. Hanson column in Fresno Bee 

Fred Vanderhoof: We approach our nation’s hour of decision – The chairman of the Fresno County Republican Party writes, “The 2016 presidential election will be pivotal to the future of our country. Either we will choose Hillary Clinton and socialism, where government controls business, farming, religion, health care and education – essentially every part of our lives. Or voters will choose Donald Trump, who will decrease government control and allow Americans to invent, invest, build, educate and worship unimpeded by hostile government.” Vanderhoof op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Sam Moretti: Open letter to my Trump-bashing friend – Bakersfield’s Solid Waste Division superintendent writes, “I can tell you quickly some legitimate concerns my beer-drinking, Trump-supporting friends have: My contractor friend fears immigration policy is affecting his pay and available work. Another fears energy policy is threatening his future within the oil industry. A teacher struggles with how difficult it is to teach kids these days with all of the rules they have to follow. Another laments how regulations make it hard to run their business.” Moretti op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

News Stories

Top Stories

California eyes more Sacramento River water for fish, less for farms, cities — Signaling a cutback in water supplies for farming and cities, California regulators on Wednesday issued a new scientific analysis that proposes overhauling the management of the Sacramento River and devoting more water to Northern California’s dwindling fish populations. Sacramento Bee article 

California promised public employees generous retirements.  Will the courts give government a way out? —  A case before the state Supreme Court could clear the way for reductions in public retiree benefits, which have become hugely expensive. But the outcome is “hard to predict.” LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

California’s largest state worker union to vote on strike – State government’s largest union is edging closer to a strike. SEIU Local 1000 President Yvonne Walker has called for a strike vote of the union’s 95,000 members beginning next week, according to a statement on the union website. Sacramento Bee article 

A tale of two farm towns:  How the Central Valley is torn over marijuana – Huron’s decision to license medical marijuana companies isn’t typical here in the Central Valley, at least not yet. The region is pretty conservative and many cities don’t want anything to do with marijuana, recreational or medical. KQED report 

Stockton homeless get 72 hours’ notice – The homeless residents who live on the streets bordered by Hazelton Avenue and Church, Sonora and Lincoln streets, along with campers residing in the nearby slough all will have to leave while the city clears debris — including the aforementioned mountain of rubbish. Stockton Record article 

Danny Morrison: It’s time Kern puts homeless problem in perspective – So the next time a seemingly homeless person asks you for change, I’m hoping that you will not only offer them monetary change, but you will offer yourself some philosophical change as well. That person could be a victim of domestic violence. A former inmate looking to turn his life around. A Vietnam veteran. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian 

Sacramento County sparks emotional discussion after proposing homeless aid changes – If a mother and her children are sleeping on the floor in a friend’s apartment to avoid sleeping in a car, should she be considered homeless? The answer could change how Sacramento County distributes money for homeless people in the future. Sacramento Bee article 

Proposition HHH would raise funds to build homeless housing in LA – Proposition HHH on the Nov. 8 ballot asks Los Angeles city voters to approve a general obligation bond that would raise money to build housing for chronically homeless people. LA Times article

Kevin Valine: Foundation invests $1.5 million in Stanislaus’ emerging leaders – The James Irvine Foundation is spending $1.5 million over the next four years to develop the skills of roughly 60 “emerging leaders” throughout the county. They will be given the tools to find solutions to some of the county’s most vexing problems, including poverty and low educational attainment. They also will be taught how to network with people and organizations outside their comfort zones. Valine in Modesto Bee 

You need to earn $62,000 a year to rent a studio apartment in Orange County, report says — It has come to this: The asking rent for a studio apartment in Orange County’s larger complexes now averages $1,548 a month, according to the third-quarter rent report by apartment tracker Real Answers. You need to earn $62,000 a year for that studio to be affordable – that is, no more than 30 percent of your gross income. And that’s not counting utilities, which also should be included in that 30 percent limit.Orange County Register article 

California attorney general investigating Wells Fargo on allegations of criminal identity theft — The California Department of Justice is investigating Wells Fargo & Co. on allegations of criminal identity theft over its creation of millions of unauthorized accounts, according to a search warrant sent to the bank’s San Francisco headquarters this month. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article 

Snapchat and Facebook have a new rival in their sights: television — Facebook and Snapchat have overtaken the home pages of Yahoo and Google as the front door to the Internet for hundreds of millions of people. Now, the two rivals are pursuing a much bigger challenge: surpassing television to become the dominant gateway to video. LA Times article 

Big Fresno Fair again reaches key attendance record — The Big Fresno Fair ended its 12-day run this past weekend, and for the second time in its 133-year history, it broke the 600,000-person attendance mark. The Business Journal article


As California water use rises, some ask: Were limits eased too soon? – This year, after regulators lifted the mandatory 25 percent statewide cut following a relatively wet winter, water use is up again, a slide in behavior that has stirred concern among state officials and drawn criticism that California abandoned the restrictions too quickly. In August, water conservation dropped below 18 percent compared with August 2013, the third consecutive month of decline. New York Times article 

Stanislaus farmers blasted river flow plan – Farmers and their supporters packed a Modesto boardroom and laid into a state plan to increase river flows. They told the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night that the proposalwould sharply reduce water deliveries in below-average or drier years. They warned of thousands of lost jobs and of stress on groundwater as farmers seek to replace surface supplies. Modesto Bee article 

Poking holes in water plan – A plan to leave more water in streams feeding the San Joaquin River will benefit Delta water exporters while letting the government off the hook for failing to meet water quality standards, San Joaquin County water wonks said Wednesday. Stockton Record article

Merced Irrigation District proposes counter plan for Merced River flows – MID is proposing what it calls the Merced River SAFE Plan, which stands for salmon, agriculture, flows and environment. Under the plan, MID would sent more water down the Merced River, but the length and amount of water would be adjusted based on salmon needs. The plan also would work to restore river habitat, reduce predatory fish such as bass and upgrade the salmon hatchery. Merced Sun-Star article 

Waterwise: Outdoor watering in Visalia, Tulare — There are seven weeks left of outdoor watering in the county’s two largest cities. In Visalia, as it has been since March, residents are only allowed to water twice a week. South on Highway 99, Tulare residents can water three times a week, at designated, off-demand hours. The new watering hours have been in effect since April, when a revised Stage 3 water ordinance was adopted. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

California regains control over a quarter of state prisons — California has regained responsibility for providing medical care at more than a quarter of its 34 prisons after 10 years of reforms. The milestone Wednesday comes as the court-appointed receiver who runs the inmate health care system gave the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation control over care at a ninth state prison. AP article 

Defense for accused jail shooter might be diminished mental capacity – The lawyer for a Hmong refugee who is accused of seriously wounding two unarmed correctional officers last month in a shooting inside the downtown Fresno jail lobby said Wednesday that he has hired two experts who will evaluate Thong Vang’s mental health and drug abuse. Fresno Bee article 

Modesto officer finds himself looking down gun barrel – A Modesto police officer made a quick retreat when he entered an outbuilding at an airport neighborhood residence Tuesday afternoon and saw a handgun pointed at him. “Thankfully, he (the gunman) didn’t shoot or the officer would be dead,” said Police Department spokeswoman Heather Graves. Modesto Bee article 

Man with machete charges Stockton police, is arrested – A man was arrested Tuesday evening after he charged a police patrol vehicle armed with a machete taped to one hand and holding a survival knife in the other while screaming at the officers to shoot him, police reported. Stockton Record article 

Jones, Opinski corruption arraignment continued until Nov. 21 – The arraignment of Los Banos school trustee Tommy Jones and Merced-area contractor Gregory Opinski on corruption charges was continued Wednesday to Nov. 21 after Opinski’s attorney requested a different judge. Merced Sun-Star article

California sheriff’s deputy shot to death while on the jobA sheriff’s deputy in a Northern California county near the Oregon border was shot to death Wednesday while responding to a disturbance call, the Modoc County Sheriff’s Office said. AP article; LA Times article


UC gains approval for health care, new engineering doctoral degree – UC Merced announced two accreditations this week, one for its mechanical engineering graduate school and the other for its campus health center. Merced Sun-Star article 

When California schools call cops for small infractions it disproportionately hurts minority students, civil rights study finds — Many California school districts offer their staff little or no guidance on when police should be called to control student behavior, according to a new study that comes as districts face increased pressure to redefine law enforcement’s role in public schools. LA Times article 

Merced schools focused on English proficiency and career training – More than a third of students in the Merced City School District are learning English as a second language and the district’s superintendent says schools are making good progress in helping them achieve English proficiency by sixth grade. Merced Sun-Star article 

Swastika found drawn atop lockers at Clovis High — A swastika was found drawn in dust on top of some lockers at Clovis High School, and a student has been identified as the person who made it, said a spokeswoman for Clovis Unified School District. Fresno Bee article 

UCLA says analysis of campus shooting led to security improvements — School officials have analyzed the experiences of that harrowing day to try to figure out how to better handle emergencies. On Tuesday, UCLA released a memo and a report outlining the steps it will take to improve its emergency response and attempt to prevent future crises. LA Times article 

California attorney general calls for state action to improve student attendance — California Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday called for the California Department of Education to take over a job that her office has done for the past four years:  release an annual data analysis on chronic student absenteeism. EdSource article 

California’s rural counties to face heavier teacher retirement rates — A third to more than half of public school teachers in 20 of California’s small, rural counties are projected to retire by the start of the 2023-24 school year, potentially compounding statewide teacher recruitment challenges, researchers from the nonprofit research agency WestEd projected in a study issued Wednesday. EdSource article


Scientists can tell you when earthquakes are more likely to hit. But do you really want to know? – It’s one of those coping skills that comes with living in earthquake country: Putting the risk out of your mind until that moment you feel the shaking. But this form of denial is being challenged — thanks to social media and a push by some seismic safety experts to spread the word when the risk of an earthquake increases. LA Times article 

NAS Lemoore: Recurrent Energy to build large Navy solar project — The Department of the Navy and Recurrent Energy have signed a lease agreement to site a 167 megawatt direct current solar photovoltaic facility on roughly 930 acres of land at Naval Air Station Lemoore, officials said. Construction is expected to start next year and be completed by 2019. Hanford Sentinel article 

The Pacific fisher comes to court after disappearing from Sierra Nevada mountains — Several environmental groups returned to their natural habitat in the courthouse on Wednesday in hopes of securing Endangered Species Act protections for the Pacific fisher, a mink-like creature found partly in California’s southern Sierra Nevada mountains. McClatchy Newspapers article

Health/Human Services 

California stem-cell agency approves $30 million to fast-track clinical trials — The California stem cell agency on Wednesday completed creation of a $30 million effort to dramatically speed approval of stem cell therapies and establish the Golden State globally in the much-heralded regenerative medicine field. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing 

Problem landlords could face heftier fines to force fixes — Fresno City Manager Bruce Rudd will ask the City Council to take the first step Thursday toward increasing penalties for landlords who ignore citations for violations that endanger renters’ health and safety. Fresno Bee article


Airlines must refund bag fee if your luggage is delayed, Obama administration says – If an airline delays returning your luggage after a flight, you will get a refund for your bag fee, under a new set of consumer-protection rules the Obama administration plans to adopt. LA Times article

Tesla equipping cars to drive completely on their own – Tesla Motors is starting to build its electric cars with all the sensors, cameras and other gear needed to drive completely on their own when regulations allow the technology to take over that responsibility. AP article; LA Times article

Want a self-driving car? Regulators consider public use — California regulators asked members of the public Wednesday what they think about proposed regulations that would — eventually — permit self-driving cars that lack a steering wheel or pedals on public roads. AP article; LA Times article

Other areas 

Joe Mathews: We want much more from neighborhoods — California is a state of large things: A 1,100-mile coastline, giant mountain ranges, big cities. In such a sprawling place, how much could people care about their own little neighborhoods? Answer: An awful lot. Mathews in Sacramento Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup 

Fresno Bee – The talk of a “rigged” election is a slippery slope to violence.

Merced Sun-Star – Proposition 63 makes only modest changes to public health and safety. But gun advocates will be too emboldened if California votes it down.

Modesto Bee – Proposition 63 makes only modest changes to public health and safety. But gun advocates will be too emboldened if California votes it down. 

Sacramento Bee – Democrat Hillary Clinton takes the high road, while Republican nominee Donald Trump goes even lower in the final presidential debate.