October 25, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Democrat Betty Yee has cash advantage in controller race – Betty Yee, the Democratic candidate for state controller, has a solid fundraising advantage heading into the home stretch of her campaign, according to new reports. Yee, a member of the Board of Equalization, had $225,670 in the bank as of Oct. 18. She has spent $1.8 million since the beginning of the year. Her Republican opponent, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, had $89,686 saved up and has spent $1.1 million since January.  LA Times article

SD14: Chavez raises big money, but spends even more in state Senate quest – Fresno Democrat Luis Chavez, who is running for the 14th state Senate seat against incumbent Hanford Republican Andy Vidak, has been a fundraising machine this year. There’s only one problem: He’s been spending machine, too.  Fresno Bee article

Outcome of Prop 48 may have no bearing on North Fork casino project – The North Fork Mono Indians, whose casino project in Madera is up for voter approval or rejection on Election Day, say they aren’t worried that opponents have outspent them 45-to-1. If voters reject Proposition 48, they say it will only delay — not kill — the $250 million project, which already has obtained required state and federal approvals. Should the state or others try to block the casino based on a Prop. 48 defeat, the North Fork Indians likely would sue — and probably would prevail — experts say.  Fresno Bee article

Valley politics

CD10: Challenger touts gridlock; incumbent touts record – Should Democratic challenger Michael Eggman unseat two-term incumbent Republican Rep. Jeff Denham to represent California’s 10th Congressional District, he plans to make an early visit to the Speaker of the House upon his arrival in Washington.  Stockton Record article

Mudslinging emerges on YouTube in Stockton council race – Political videos currently circulating on the Internet have reminded Mayor Anthony Silva of what he says is a fundamental truism about Stockton’s heated climate in the days that precede virtually any election. “In Stockton politics, there’s not a line that won’t be crossed,” Silva said Friday afternoon. “It just tells me that some of the races are probably competitive.”  Stockton Record article

Tulare County supervisor seeks to hold District 5 seat – Incumbent Tulare County Supervisor Mike Ennis is fighting to survive a runoff election in November against Porterville City Council Member Virginia Gurrola, who has taken verbal swipes at him.  Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield Californian:  Re-elect Rudy Salas, Shannon Grove to Assembly – The Bakersfield Californian recommends the re-election of Rudy Salas in Assembly District 32 and Shannon Grove in Assembly District 34.  Bakersfield Californian editorial

Former federal judge Wanger unhappy with attack ad that talks of water and activist judges – Former U.S. District Court Judge Oliver W. Wanger is unhappy — very unhappy — about a political advertisement in Friday’s Bee concerning the heated Fresno County Superior Court judge race between Lisa Gamoian and Rachel Hill. In fact, he’s downright angry.  Fresno Bee article

Photograph spurs campaign controversy in Livingston – A photograph depicting a candidate for Livingston City Council posing with several people described by law enforcement officials as known gang members sparked controversy this week, less than two weeks before the election.  Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Proposed Central Valley tribal casino at heart of Prop 48 battle – A high-stakes turf war involving a proposed Central California casino has put a wedge between some Native American tribes and even divided the governor and California’s senior U.S. senator. The battle is embodied in Proposition 48 on next month’s ballot.  LA Times article

New $2 million flows into anti-casino effort – Two tribes have put $1 million each into the campaign to block another tribe from opening a casino-hotel off Highway 99 near Madera. The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, based in Temecula, and the Table Mountain Rancheria, which operates a casino in Friant, made the contributions to oppose Proposition 48, according to financial disclosure reports at the secretary of state’s office.  Capitol Weekly article

Hanford Sentinel: Vote yes on Proposition 1 – We recommend voting in favor of Proposition 1, which would authorize the state to issue $7.5 billion in bonds to support various water projects.  Hanford Sentinel editorial

Judgment Day coming for water bond – Almost every leader and organization you can think of in Kings County is for the $7.5 billion measure: The Kings County Farm Bureau, the Kings County Board of Supervisors and many others.  Hanford Sentinel article

Mark Baldassare: A cautionary tale for fiscal reformers – The president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California writes, “One of the biggest surprises in the PPIC Statewide Surveys this fall has been the inability of Proposition 2 (aka the rainy day fund) to garner majority support from voters.” Baldassare in Fox & Hounds

Outside spending explodes in California schools chief race – Incumbent Tom Torlakson had slightly more cash on hand than challenger Marshall Tuck heading into the final weeks of the heated race for state superintendent of public instruction, according to their latest campaign finance reports. But the close contest could come down to outside spending, which has topped $10 million since the beginning of October, more than for any other elected office in California this fall.  Capitol Alert

State schools chief race may reverberate beyond California – The battle has drawn national attention, along with millions of dollars from traditionalist teachers unions on one side and from those who want to wholly overhaul the way schools are run on the other. The result could reverberate far beyond California.  LA Times article

Prop 45 would give commissioner power to change health rates – Proposition 45, which would give rate-regulation authority over health insurance to the state’s elected insurance commissioner, would mostly affect roughly 6 million Californians who buy their own insurance or get it through their employment with a small business (50 or fewer employees).  Sacramento Bee article

Yes on Prop 45 going to airwaves – With just over a week until election day, backers of Proposition 45, the health insurance rate regulation initiative, are finally putting ads on television. Though their opponents have used a $55-million campaign war chest to flood the airwaves, Consumer Watchdog, the Santa Monica activist group that put the measure on the ballot, only has $1 million to spend on limited TV and radio spots.  LA Times article

Other areas

Spending hits the millions in hottest race for Congress – Candidates in the hottest House races in the state are spending millions on their campaigns.  But in some cases, groups outside the campaigns are laying out even more, campaign finance reports show.  LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Tech political donors at crossroads as funds pour into campaigns – Political donors from the tech world are at a crossroads in this election cycle, when some have taken on a more high-profile role. While they have the money to reshape the political dialogue, “many people in Silicon Valley recoil at how much money is being used to finance political campaigns,” said Daniel G. Newman, president and co-founder of Maplight, a nonpartisan organization that analyzes the role of money in politics.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Joel Fox: Seeking more voters spurs probable change in LA elections – With the current trend lines in voting in the city election, the next mayor may be elected by less than 10% of the voters. The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to ask for a charter change so that the city elections move from odd numbered years to even numbered years to combine with presidential and gubernatorial elections.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

GOP Senate would mean more clashes with Obama, little progress – It’s Nov. 5 and jubilant Republicans have captured the Senate, giving the party control of both chambers of Congress for the last two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. Now what? The power and agenda in the Senate would shift dramatically.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Wacky San Francisco election mailers entertain, even if truth suffers – Did you know Supervisor David Chiu keeps a dead elephant in his closet? Or that Supervisor David Campos is in cahoots with Big Oil? Or that if you vote for the transportation bond, Supervisor Katy Tang will personally escort adorable schoolchildren across busy streets? OK, OK. None of those is actually true. But you wouldn’t know it from the deluge of campaign mailers now flooding the mailboxes of San Francisco voters.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Who’s rich and not rich in Bay Area delegation – The Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call put out a list Friday of estimated net worths of every member of Congress. No surprise that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., married to private equity magnate Richard Blum, clocked in at #9 with minimum assets of $43.7 million, or that House minority leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, whose stock investor husband Paul’s assets grew significantly this year, came in at #14, with minimum assets of $42.3 million.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Jerrold Jensen:  Who can end this deadly cycle? – The Visalia resident writes, “Finally, the FBI reports there were a total of 8,855 firearms homicides in 2012. If anti-gun groups want to save lives, they should focus on preventing the tragic and disproportionate 6,400 annual murders of black Americans. Blaming white Americans will not end this tragic carnage.”  Jensen op-ed in Fresno Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

A parched farm town is sinking, and so are its residents’ hearts – Beneath this small farm town at the end of what’s left of the Kings River, the ground is sinking. Going into the fourth year of drought, farmers have pumped so much water that the water table below Stratford fell 100 feet in two years. Land in some spots in the Central Valley has dropped a foot a year.  LA Times article

Bullet train path looking smoother – California’s $67.5 billion bullet train has been described as “off-track” so long that some thought it was permanently derailed. In fact, the outlook has brightened: A series of court decisions, a move by Gov. Brown to pump money into the effort and an awakening interest from high-dollar investors has given the huge project new momentum.  Capitol Weekly article

Jobs and the Economy

San Joaquin County housing shows equity gains – More than one out of five San Joaquin County homeowners remain seriously underwater, owing 25 percent or more on their mortgage than their residence is worth, RealtyTrac said this week. Still, that’s much improved from a year ago when nearly one in three county residences with a mortgage were underwater.  Stockton Record article

Central Fresno Walmart opening delayed, but hiring has begun – The new Walmart in central Fresno is opening later than expected, but is already hiring for 300 jobs. The store at the former Mervyns at Blackstone and Ashlan avenues will open early next year, according to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. The retail giant had announced in February that the store would open last summer.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Agency offers job hunt assistance to AMR billing employees – Stanislaus County’s Alliance Worknet will meet Nov. 13 with American Medical Response employees who are losing their jobs. The agency will provide information about unemployment benefits, applications for jobs through the Alliance, retraining options and other help with the job hunt.  Modesto Bee article

Golden Gate Bridge board keeps sidewalk toll on table, Oks study – Golden Gate Bridge district officials voted Friday to study charging a toll for pedestrians and bicyclists to cross the iconic span, despite strong opposition from cyclists and an effort by the San Francisco delegation to shelve the proposals.  San Francisco Chronicle article

LA wage hikes spark fierce debate – Los Angeles has thrust itself into the center of one of the most contentious debates in modern economics — what happens when you raise the minimum wage? — as city leaders consider mandating $13.25 an hour.  LA Times article

de León says ‘green jobs’ will be priority of Senate leader – In his first policy speech as California’s Senate leader, Kevin de León said one of his key priorities will be combating climate change by setting policies that promote energy efficiency.  LA Times article

New Manteca laundry employs 115 – Crothall Healthcare formally dedicated its new 60,000-square-foot industrial laundry Thursday in Manteca, providing linen cleaning and supply services to 22 hospital accounts, the San Joaquin Partnership reported.  Stockton Record article

Groundbreaking on new Sacramento Kings arena set for Wednesday – The demolition is nearly over at Downtown Plaza. Now it’s time for the groundbreaking. The Sacramento Kings said Friday they will hold a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of their new arena next Wednesday morning.  Sacramento Bee article

Ex-New York City Mayor Bloomberg buys World Series ad to push Berkeley soda tax – Michael Bloomberg is jumping into Berkeley’s battle over a proposed soda tax by funding a baseball-themed TV ad that will run throughout the Bay Area during this weekend’s World Series games.  San Francisco Chronicle article

San Francisco soda-tax opponents pour in contributions – You can expect to keep hearing about Proposition E, San Francisco’s proposed two-penny-per-ounce soda tax: A political action committee funded by soft-drink companies poured another $1.1million into the effort to defeat the tax this week, with less than two weeks left before the Nov. 4 election.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Gen Xers, boomers and millennials – navigating generations in workforce – The American workforce now includes members from at least three separate generations born between the 1940s and the 1990s, and with 50 years of cultural differences between them, researchers have found that many of today’s youngest workers have vastly different work habits than their predecessors.  The Business Journal article

Congestion worsens at LA, Long Beach ports as holidays near – The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are experiencing a logistical nightmare as they struggle to ease a bottleneck that could undermine retailers’ all-important holiday shopping season and threaten the competitiveness of the region’s economic engine.  LA Times article

U.S. retailers face charges for food stamp machines – “Important Notice: EBT processing equipment is no longer free!” The announcement in bold red letters on the GoEBT program’s website is bad news for small-business owners whose customers shop using electronic benefit transfer, the method for distributing CalFresh benefits (formerly known as food stamps) from the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Cort: Security a key to thriving future – The president and CEO of Cort Companies writes, “We have taken that first step by hiring a private security company to patrol one square block of downtown, with tremendous success. This has created a sense of safety and well-being for the school that occupies a large percentage of this area.”  Cort op-ed in Stockton Record

New Mexico, Iowa have California-style state pay issues – In two stories that sound like they could have happened in California, payroll-system problems have delayed back pay for thousands of New Mexico state workers while in Iowa, the state and a union have come to an agreement over withheld meal money.  Sacramento Bee article


Drought Watch: A dry winter could mean tougher restrictions – What will happen with water restrictions if California doesn’t get significant rain and snow this winter? LA Times article

Food for drought-impacted Ivanhoe – A line of 300 people snaked through the parking lot of Walnut Grove Assembly of God Church in Ivanhoe Thursday afternoon. The line was made up of mothers with children — some pushing strollers along — husbands and wives, and friends and neighbors.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Block grants to aid California specialty farmers – California specialty crop farmers are expanding export markets, improving food safety and providing school children better access to fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to a federal block grant program.  Fresno Bee article

Almond board issues bee protection measures – New guidelines on how almond growers can help protect the honeybees they rely on for pollination focus on pesticide and fungicide application and emphasize close communication with beekeepers and other stakeholders.  Bakersfield Californian article

Woodlake gets $4 million for water meters – For the first time, water meters will be installed at homes and businesses in Woodlake, thanks to $4 million in grant and loan money provided to the city by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Visalia Times-Delta article

Hanford to begin chlorinating water – The state Water Resources Control Board Division of Drinking Water is requiring Hanford to begin continuous chlorination of its water system, following a two month effort to address possible contamination.  Hanford Sentinel article

Farm Beat: Drought downsizes Patterson corn maze – Fantozzi Farms is celebrating Halloween, and lamenting the drought, in the 2014 version of its corn maze near Patterson. The maze shrank from its usual 25 acres to 13 because of the water shortage, said Denise Fantozzi, who owns the farm with her husband, Paul. The land is in the Del Puerto Water District, which has had especially severe cutbacks this year.  Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Gun rampage kills 2 deputies in Sacramento region – Danny Oliver’s last shift ended with the veteran Sacramento sheriff’s deputy doing something he would have done countless times before in his career, walking toward a car to see what the occupants were doing on his beat.  Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorialLA Times articleAP article


Fresno State President Joseph Castro named to national Hispanic college board – Fresno State President Joseph Castro will serve as a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities governing board, university officials announced Friday. Castro began his three-year term Oct. 5.  Fresno Bee article

Francine Farber: Happy consequences await Tehipite Middle School students who try harder – The full-time community volunteer writes, “Most unintended consequences seem to be negative. We consider ourselves fortunate that some excellent unintended consequences have already shown themselves in connection with the Steve’s Scholars program at Tehipite Middle School.” Farber op-ed in Fresno Bee

Charters plan for future growth outside state – Four of California’s largest charter school organizations received three-quarters of the $36 million in competitive grants that the federal Department of Education awarded this month to help charter schools expand their operations. Most of the money for the California organizations, however, will go toward growing schools outside the state in markets that are easier to navigate or more welcoming, the chief executives of two of the charter groups said.  EdSource article

Sandy Mittelsteadt: Attending college is not a career goal – The president of Zayn Consulting writes, “Career and technical programs engage students with relevant and meaningful coursework that provides multiple benefits to their future. And, for those students planning on attending college, having taken some career and technical education courses enables them to select a career goal and be on the right path to a successful career.” Mittelsteadt op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Hanford districts nab repair funding – Two Hanford schools are finally getting some state funding that has been in limbo for about seven years. The Hanford Elementary School District and Hanford Joint Union High School District received a total of more than $1 million through the state’s Emergency Repair Program. Hanford Sentinel article

The judge with City College of San Francisco’s future in his hands – One man holds the fate of City College of San Francisco in his hands. Dramatic, but true. Curtis Karnow alone will decide whether to uphold or invalidate an accrediting commission’s decision in 2013 to revoke accreditation from City College on the grounds it was so poorly run that it should be shut down.  San Francisco Chronicle article

LA Unified students could take iPads home soon – Los Angeles Unified students could take school-issued iPads home as soon as next month under a new plan that officials say has dealt with security concerns.  LA Times article

Larry White: Deeper learning through projects – If society wants students to function in the real world, schools need to train them. Projects are a major instrument to facilitate that connection, for both students and the community-at-large.  White column in Stockton Record


Group petitions authorities to punish park vandal – A Berkeley resident filed a petition on Whitehouse.gov Wednesday requesting that authorities pursue charges and the maximum punishment allowed for a New York artist who vandalized at least 10 national parks.  KQED reportSacramento Bee editorial

Legislators seek help with hyacinth – With Stockton’s water hyacinth invasion seeming to only get worse, San Joaquin County legislators on Friday asked state officials to request a “sustained funding source” from the federal government to fight back against the prolific weeds.  Stockton Record article

Ruptured southwest gas line shut down – A ruptured 30-inch gas transmission line forced the evacuation of an 8-square-mile swath at Houghton and Wible roads Friday morning, resulting in temporary school closures as the broken line released pressurized gas into the air.  Bakersfield Californian article

Health/Human Services

UC Davis Medical Center picked as one of five hospitals to treat Ebola cases in California – Stepping up California’s readiness to treat Ebola patients, state public health authorities on Friday officially designated five University of California hospital systems as “priority” hospitals statewide, including UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleKQED report

Dental surgery centers say health plan is blocking treatment for kids – Three surgery centers continue to struggle with Health Plan of San Joaquin over authorizations for dental treatments for low-income children and the disabled.  Modesto Bee article

Fresno heart surgeon dismisses defamation suit, with option to refile – A prominent Fresno heart surgeon dismissed his defamation suit against a man who accused him of leaving an open-heart surgery before his patient’s chest was closed but has the option to refile it later.  Fresno Bee article


Key Hosking interchange breaks ground – Hosking Avenue’s days as a mere bridge over Highway 99 officially ended Friday when local and state officials broke ground on a nearly $23 million interchange that will widen it to six lanes and connect it to the freeway.  Bakersfield Californian article

Other Areas

Hanford bans growth, distribution of medical pot – After months of discussion, the Hanford City Council adopted a ban on the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana Tuesday, following suit with a growing number of Valley cities.  Hanford Sentinel article

Fresno Bee: Three cheers for Fresno’s automatic-aid fire agreement – We interrupt this maddening season of negative campaign ads and scare tactics to remind voters that government, on occasion, can put aside petty jealousies, political turf protection strategies and do something right.  Fresno Bee editorial

Fresno burning house hero, a Dodgers fan, meets Tommy Lasorda on Kimmel show – The Fresno man whose rescue of an elderly resident from a burning home was captured on video got the full hero’s treatment on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Thursday night.  Fresno Bee article

‘Guys dig dirt’ with children in Merced – Nutrition, agriculture and the importance of male role models were the focus of an event in south Merced on Friday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Beyond Bakersfield:  News from around Kern County – Robots are the newest additions to kindergarten at St. Ann School. To help immerse students in scientific fields, the school integrated Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics for Entrepreneurs, or E-STEM.  Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  The Bakersfield Californian recommends the re-election of Rudy Salas in Assembly District 32 and Shannon Grove in Assembly District 34.

Fresno Bee – We interrupt this maddening season of negative campaign ads and scare tactics to remind voters that government, on occasion, can put aside petty jealousies, political turf protection strategies and do something rightThumbs up, thumbs down.

Hanford Sentinel – We recommend voting in favor of Proposition 1, which would authorize the state to issue $7.5 billion in bonds to support various water projects.

Merced Sun-Star – We’ve got a to-do list for Gov. Brown’s fourth term.

Modesto Bee – Our Views: Voters will have impact on growth, good move for Modesto with new city manager, and other issue.

Sacramento Bee – Deputies and their families deserve support, heartfelt thanks; Tagging Yosemite is theft, not art.