October 25, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

CD 10: Last-minute fundraising and spending spikes in Jeff Denham-Michael Eggman race — The ongoing fundraising and spending in the 10th Congressional District race underscores the seriousness of the race. Through all of 2016, records compiled by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics show, the DCCC has spent $2.1 million supporting Eggman while the conservative Congressional Leadership Fund has spent $1.6 million aiding Denham. McClatchy Newspapers article 

What happens if both death penalty measures are approved by voters on Nov. 8? – California voters are weighing dueling death penalty propositions on the Nov. 8 ballot, one that seeks to repeal the system and another that aims to speed it up.  If both pass with a majority, the initiative with the most “yes” votes would supersede the other. If both fail to garner the votes, then the status quo remains, a frustrating prospect for many as advocates on both sides of the issue say the system is broken.  LA Times article (scroll to item) 

Valley politics 

On some issues, political labels don’t seem to fit Brand, Perea — Could it be that Lee Brand, the rock-ribbed conservative who has spent the past two terms on the City Council touting free market principles and working to right Fresno’s financial ship, is further to the left on some issues than mayoral opponent Henry R. Perea? Conversely, does that mean Perea is to Brand’s political right on those issues? Some people think so. The candidates aren’t so sure. Fresno Bee article 

Q&A: Merced County supervisor candidates face off in runoff election – Candidates for the District 2 and District 4 seats on the Merced County Board of Supervisors answer questions from the Merced Sun-Star. Merced Sun-Star article 

Video: Off the Press: Rudy Salas – Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield is running for re-election to his 32nd Assembly District seat in the California Legislature on Nov. 8. Bakersfield Californian video 

Video: Off the Press: Manuel Ramirez — Manuel Ramirez, a Republican challenging Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, joined the Off the Press show earlier this summer to talk about his background, why he’s running for office and the unique way he entered the Assembly race. Bakersfield Californian video 

Voters hear from candidates at forum – Candidates who are running for the Lemoore City Council got a chance to speak to voters directly at a forum Thursday evening. Hanford Sentinel article 

Ken Mettler: Were the voters all fooled by Kevin McCarthy? – The former candidate for Congress and an independent businessman writes, “Did Kevin McCarthy fool us during the last open primary election? It is said that money is the mother’s milk of politics. By following the money, I will illustrate just how true this is with the congressman from Bakersfield.” Mettler op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Los Banos school board candidate’s son confesses to vandalizing opponent’s signs — The 38-year-old son of Los Banos school district candidate Gary Munoz confessed to vandalizing the campaign signs of Munoz’s opponent, incumbent Dominic Falasco, over the weekend, police said. Los Banos Enterprise article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Election may be a turning point for legal marijuana – To the red-and-blue map of American politics, it may be time to add green. The movement to legalize marijuana, the country’s most popular illicit drug, will take a giant leap on Election Day if California and four other states vote to allow recreational cannabis, as polls suggest they may. New York Times article 

Tom Steyer’s registration effort claims 1 million new voters – Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, using Donald Trump as his foil, pledged to Democratic activists early this year that he would spend heavily this election cycle to “awaken our sleeping progressive giant,” a bloc he described as the millions of Californians “who are on our side but don’t vote.” Sacramento Bee article 

Chris Tefler: ‘Yes’ on Prop 53 for transparency on big projects – The president of the Tulare County Taxpayers Association writes, “Proposition 53 is one of the lesser-known measures on the state ballot this year, but it’s one that should have your full attention. Also known as ‘Stop Blank Checks,’ Proposition 53 presents an opportunity for voters to tell politicians and Sacramento insiders that enough is enough when it comes to spending your money on huge state mega-projects with no accountability or oversight.” Tefler op-ed in Fresno Bee 

California voters are being asked to force transparency in the Legislature. Here’s a Proposition 54 explainer — The backers of Proposition 54 don’t have to do much to explain their motivation for imposing a waiting period for final action on bills by the California Legislature. History, it turns out, does it for them just fine. LA Times article 

Jan Levine: Prop 57 will fix our prisons and improve public safety – The former Los Angeles County Superior Court judge writes, “As a Superior Court judge for nearly a decade, I got a close look at a justice system that was failing too many people. I am supporting Proposition 57 because I believe it would begin to address that failure.” Levine op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Marc Klaas: Prop 57 would release violent criminals and undermine victims’ rights – The founder of the Klaas Kids Foundation writes, “Make no mistake about it: Proposition 57 is a dangerous, dangerous ballot initiative that poses a great threat to the people of California.” Klaas op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Proposition 61 gives California mandate to lower drug prices, not tools – No California ballot fight has attracted more money or bigger names than Proposition 61. Proponents call it the only initiative in the country that could rein in rising drug prices. Pharmaceutical companies have spent nearly $110 million to oppose it. But politics aside, experts see a problem with the measure. They question whether California could implement the law and what the consequences would be, if it can’t. Capital Public Radio report 

Vapers beware: E-cigarettes in line for a big tax increase if Proposition 56 passes — E-cigarette liquid containing nicotine could be taxed at a rate as high as 67%, according to state estimates, an amount that an e-cigarette trade group believes would boost the price consumers pay for a typical 30-milliliter bottle to about $30 from around $20 today. LA Times article

New ads urge California voters not to repeal the ‘last defense’ against killers – In two new television ads, police officers and prosecutors urge California voters not to repeal the death penalty on Nov. 8, calling it “the last defense” against killers. LA Times article(scroll to item) 

Death penalty opponents exaggerate cost of execution in new ads – If voters approve Proposition 62 this November, California would replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Rather than focusing on moral arguments, supporters of the initiative have sought to make the campaign an issue of fiscal sensibility. Sacramento Bee article 

Nora Reeves: Death penalty would never bring back my mother – The Bay Area resident involved with the California Crime Victims for Alternatives to the Death Penalty writes, “As the daughter of a murder victim, I urge Californians to vote ‘yes’ on Proposition 62 on Nov. 8, repealing the death penalty.” Reeves op-ed in Modesto Bee 

Differences between newly approved gun laws and Proposition 63 have sparked division among gun control supporters – Some key issues addressed in the initiative by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, including background checks for those buying bullets and a ban on high capacity magazines, have also been tackled in bills approved this summer by the state Legislature in high-profile actions. That has caused confusion among voters and led some law enforcement groups to oppose the initiative because they prefer thelaws already approved by the Legislature. LA Times article 

Joel Fox: Business and tax ballot measures — Last week, the Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon reported that the business community is not engaging on the big tax fights appearing on the November ballot: Proposition 55, the income tax extension and Proposition 56, the increased tobacco tax. While business leaders say the positions taken is colored by political circumstances around these particular measures, business must stay clear of the trap in which numerous tax increases add up to a suffocating tax burden.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Other areas 

Voting by mail in Sacramento? Don’t forget the second stamp – The ballot envelope does not explicitly state how much postage is needed – only that it may require additional postage – so the county has added a flier explaining the two-stamp requirement, LaVine said. The exact postage could include a standard 47-cent Forever stamp and 21 cents of additional postage. Sacramento Bee article 

Dan Morain: Tom Hayden casts a final vote — In his final days, Hayden would tell visitors about the importance of the presidential election. A few days ago, he filled out his ballot, his final public act. A friend made sure it got into the mail. As ever, Hayden’s vote will count. Morain in Sacramento Bee 

Tom Hayden allies pay tribute to his dogged pursuit of liberal causes – In the hours after he died, Hayden allies on a multitude of issues — peace in Northern Ireland and gang prevention in Los Angeles among them — paid tribute to his doggedness, while his half-century roster of adversaries kept quiet. LA Times article 

The Mission’s homeless can and should vote, advocates say — San Francisco’s homeless population can vote, even without a fixed address, announced advocates for the homeless who on Thursday gathered at the intersection of Division Street and Trainor — a narrow alleyway behind Rainbow Grocery that is lined with tents. KQED report

Presidential Politics

Trump debuts nightly campaign show – Amid speculation that Donald Trump will launch a media network after the election, the GOP presidential nominee started a nightly online show from his campaign’s war room on Monday. LA Times article (scroll to item) 

Assessing the in-your-face sexism of the 2016 campaign – The men parked their white work van on a patch of dirt down the road from the college where Hillary Clinton was set to give a major speech. Then they attached a banner. It was almost as long as the van with bold red-and-black vinyl lettering. “Trump that bitch,” it said. KQED report 

California voting groups prepare to monitor polling places — California voting rights advocates say they will monitor more polling places than usual on Election Day amid concerns about possible voter intimidation stemming from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s repeated assertions that the election is rigged against him. AP article

News Stories

Top Stories

Illegal bonuses given to California National Guard soldiers should be forgiven, lawmakers say – California’s two senators and House members from both parties are trying to block the Pentagon from recovering tens of millions of dollars worth of illegal retention and reenlistment bonuses it awarded to California National Guard soldiers during the height of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Sacramento Bee article; Bakersfield Californian article; LA Times article 

Gerawan Farming settles 2013 labor charge with UFW – Gerawan Farming, the United Farm Workers union and the Agricultural Labor Relations Board have entered into a settlement agreement over a 2013 charge that the Fresno County farming company violated state labor law. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

California spends big to deliver food stamps, and auditors hint it’s time for a diet – California spends a lot more to administer a federal nutrition program than some other states, a critical new federal audit shows. In certain California counties in particular, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program costs far exceed the national average. San Francisco County, for instance, spent $73 a month administering each SNAP case in 2014, while New York City spent $23 per case. The wide ranges, auditors cautioned in the report made public Monday, could suggest “possible waste and operational inefficiencies.” McClatchy Newspapers article 

Jeff Jardine: If Measure L fails, and you want to see you road tax dollars at work, go somewhere else – Twenty California counties have been feasting off your tax dollars for decades to get their roads built, their roads expanded, and their roads and streets repaired, along with other transportation upgrades. Meanwhile, Stanislaus County’s pavement continues to fall apart in chunks. Plans for new roads are made. Public meetings happen. But the money isn’t there. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

California actually benefits a lot from trade with China — There are winners and losers in any trade relationship. And while vast swaths of the Midwest and Southeast may qualify as victims, several sectors in California have reaped the spoils of trade with China. If the next U.S. president launches a trade war with China, it could rattle those industries, and California’s economy more broadly. LA Times article

State Sen. Anthony Cannella, Congressman Jim Costa, state Assemblymember Adam Gray, and Merced County Supervisor Daron McDaniel: We must pass Measure V – The Valley elected officials write, “Measure V is critical to the future of Merced County’s quality of life. As residents, we deserve better roads in our community. We deserve to be safe when we drive, walk or bike. Most importantly, our children and grandchildren deserve to be safe on their way to and from school. That’s why voting Yes on Measure V is one of the most positive and meaningful votes we can make this Nov. 8.” Cannella/Costa/Gray/McDaniel op-ed in Merced Sun-Star 

Fresno movie theaters unveil big new comfy seats, move closer to serving alcohol – Movie theaters around the country are making changes to make the movie-going experience more enjoyable, such as the instillation of larger seats, more leg room and an expanded menu at the snack counter and serving alcohol. Fresno-area moviegoers can take advantage of the new seats this week at Manchester, and starting Oct. 28 at Sierra Vista Mall’s cinema. Plans to serve alcoholic beverages at both theaters are still in the works. Fresno Bee article

Fresno cash home sales up slightly in July – Cash sales of homes in the Fresno region accounted for 21.3 percent of all transactions in July, a 0.2 percentage point increase compared with July 2015. The Business Journal article 

Bay Area rents are falling, falling, falling – The message is becoming increasingly clear: Rents indeed are falling around the Bay Area. New data from the Axiometrics research firm show rents dropping in San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland. The Oakland piece is a new twist; according to other surveys, Oakland rents have remained on the rise, though at a far slower rate than over the past year or two. San Jose Mercury News article 

Planning Commission endorses ambitious downtown railyard plan — An expansive plan to redevelop Sacramento’s historic downtown railyard with a major league soccer stadium, a hospital, and a mix of housing and shops took a big step toward full approval by the city Monday night. Sacramento Bee article

Curb Appeal: Historic Republican building in downtown Fresno for sale — The old downtown Fresno warehouse that once served the printing division of the Fresno Morning Republican newspaper and later became home to the exclusive Downtown Club is for sale. Fresno Bee article 

Apple watch sales fall off a cliffThe guy walking down Market Street talking to his watch is going to stand out even more as a sore and somewhat absurd thumb. Smartwatch sales fell off a cliff in the third quarter of this year, with shipments down 52 percent. But surely Apple is bucking the trend? Nope. Shipments of Apple’s watches fell 72 percent. San Jose Mercury News article 

Judge faces deadline on $15 billion Volkswagen emissions deal — A federal judge in San Francisco is facing a Tuesday deadline to decide whether to approve the largest auto-scandal settlement in U.S. history, giving most affected Volkswagen owners the option for a vehicle buyback after the company acknowledged cheating on emissions testing and putting dirty cars on the road. AP article 

A call for pot entrepreneurs of color — Would-be pot entrepreneurs as well as the simply curious, packed Yoshi’s in Oakland Monday for a conference aimed at increasing the number of nonwhites in the booming cannabis industry, citing the fact that people of color have been most impacted by marijuana-related arrests.  East Bay Times article


Goal of restoring salmon to San Joaquin River far out of reach – A decade ago, environmentalists and the federal government agreed to revive a 150-mile stretch of California’s second-longest river, an ambitious effort aimed at allowing salmon again to swim up to the Sierra Nevada foothills to spawn. A major milestone is expected by the end of the month, when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says the stretch of the San Joaquin River will be flowing year-round for the first time in more than 60 years. But the goal of restoring native salmon remains far out of reach. The Business Journal article 

Fresno starts work on pipes to connect new southeast water plant — Fresno is spending about $18.2 million to build a four-mile section of new water mains as part of its $429 million Recharge Fresno plan. Fresno Bee article 

Removal of Klamath dams would be largest river restoration in U.S. history — Four hydroelectric dams may soon be demolished along the Klamath, near the California-Oregon border. Hundreds of miles of the Klamath would run free to the Pacific Ocean — opening up the largest river restoration in U.S. history. What’s made this possible is compromise, forged over years of negotiation, among upriver and downriver interests, in California and Oregon, farmers and tribes and fishery advocates. KQED report

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Woman injured in harrowing Madera police ride-along was in citizens academy – The female passenger whose reaction to gunfire piercing a Madera police cruiser’s windshield was captured on a harrowing video was a member of the department’s volunteer citizens academy, the city’s police chief said Monday. Fresno Bee article 

Former Bakersfield Police Detective Patrick Mara sentenced to five years for drug trafficking – Former Bakersfield Police Department Detective Patrick Mara was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison following tearful pleas for leniency from friends and relatives. Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield Police Department chief: Corrupt cops worked alone – Just hours after a federal judge sentenced former Bakersfield police Detective Patrick Mara to a five-year prison term Monday, law enforcement officials dismissed allegations of widespread corruption in the Bakersfield Police Department, insisting the rogue cop and his partner worked alone to steal and sell methamphetamine over a period of years. Bakersfield Californian article

Letter describes cases potentially tainted by disgraced detective – The Californian on Monday obtained copies of the 64 letters that Kern County’s district attorney has sent to area defense attorneys whose clients’ criminal cases may have been “tainted” by the involvement of two former Bakersfield Police Department detectives. Bakersfield Californian article

 12 facts about incarceration and prisoner reentry — Successful reintegration is not just a concern for those who return from prison: it is also a matter of public safety and economic necessity. Accordingly, a criminal justice system that emphasizes incarceration but does not support the journey home does a disservice to the formerly incarcerated as well as to the public. Reducing recidivism is critical for community safety; providing effective rehabilitation and skill development for those incarcerated and formerly incarcerated is critical to strengthening households and the economy. Brookings article 

Many California counties charge parents high fees while kids are locked up – If your kid gets arrested and locked up, it turns out you (the parent) might end up footing the bill. This might seem strange — after all, the state doesn’t charge adults for the cost of incarcerating them — but there is a little-known law that allows counties in the state to collect money from parents for the cost of upkeep while their kids are in custody. KQED report 

Man accused of confronting CHP after street race ‘sideshow’ arrested – A 19-year-old man sought for a month in connection with a confrontation between a California Highway Patrol officer and a crowd at a street race “sideshow” in southwest Fresno was arrested Sunday night at Blackstone and Magill avenues in northeast Fresno, police say. Fresno Bee article 

Fresno man on trial for beating a Sikh, thinking victim was ISIS — A 23-year-old Fresno man is on trial, accused of punching a bearded man wearing a turban and a robe in December and later bragging that he beat up a terrorist. Police say the victim, Amrik Singh Bal, actually was a peaceful, 68-year-old Sikh man headed to work. Fresno Bee article 

Controversial DNA search that cracked ‘Grim Sleeper’ case has solved more murder and rape cases — The state’s early success using familial DNA searches to identify the so-called ‘Grim Sleeper’ serial killer led Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck to predict that the method would “change the way policing is done in the United States.” LA Times article


Sacramento State hopes to keep freshmen from remedial classes with $1.28 million grant — Sacramento State hopes to reduce the number of freshmen who need remedial math classes by using a new $1.28 million grant to collaborate with high school educators. California State University, Sacramento is one of five colleges statewide awarded a two-year California Mathematics Readiness Challenge Initiative grant. The state program is aimed to improving high school education by having colleges work closely with secondary level teachers and principals. Sacramento Bee article 

Group of educators, policymakers aims to tackle preschool suspensions — California preschools are mirroring an alarming national trend, suspending or expelling children from preschools far too frequently. This is the judgment of a group of state educators, policymakers and representatives of public agencies, including the California Department of Education, who are working on a proposal that will offer solutions.  EdSource article 

Crash course on college candidates – The selection of San Joaquin Delta College trustees won’t show up at the top of your ballot — or anywhere near the top, for that matter. But these races should not be taken lightly. Delta’s next Board of Trustees will grapple with issues such as how to spend the remnants of voter-approved Measure L bond funding, whether to propose an entirely new bond, and how to stabilize declining enrollment, which can threaten state funding. Stockton Record article 

Palo Alto schools weigh adding weighted GPA to transcripts — A Palo Alto High School student’s push to have her weighted GPA listed on her transcript in order to qualify for a scholarship is leading the school board to re-evaluate its practice of omission, which district officials say is in place to temper students’ unhealthy focus on grades. San Jose Mercury News article


Species may be listed as threatened based on climate change projections, court says — Federal authorities may list a species as “threatened” based on climate models that show habitat loss in the coming decades, an appeals court decided Monday. LA Times article 

Valero to pay $249,000 for Benicia refinery air violations — Valero Refining Co. has agreed to pay nearly a quarter of a million dollars to settle violations of air quality regulations at its Benicia plant, officials said Monday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services

Obamacare premiums to go up by double digits — Insurers are raising the 2017 premiums for a popular and significant group of health plans sold through HealthCare.gov by an average of 25 percent, more than triple the increase for this year, according to new government figures. Washington Post article; LA Times article; New York Times article 

Choosing a health plan? State online tool can make it easier — Health consumers in the central San Joaquin Valley will be choosing health plans during open enrollment season this fall and California’s Office of the Patient Advocate an online ratings tool that can help consumers make the best decisions.  Fresno Bee article 

‘Virtual tour’ offers a glimpse of how people live with Alzheimer’s — Most of us will never truly know what it’s like inside the mind of someone afflicted with dementia or Alzheimer’s. But there are ways to get a glimpse. On a recent afternoon at Atria El Camino Gardens, a senior living and memory care facility in Carmichael, staffers and family members took a “virtual dementia tour” to experience what those brain impairments can feel like. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing 

Modesto nightclub owners challenge county permit denial — The future of a well-established nightclub on Crows Landing Road is in doubt after a Stanislaus County tax collector’s decision to deny a permit emptied the dance floor. Modesto Bee article

Other areas 

Bakersfield committee recommends targeting shelter euthanasia — Bakersfield should join the Target Zero mentoring program to further reduce euthanizations at the animal shelter, a City Council committee decided Monday after hearing its director critique efforts to cut dog and cat deaths. Bakersfield Californian article 

Oakdale Irrigation District is now 0-2 in recent attorney-fee lawsuits — Owners of 31 homes in an east Oakdale neighborhood don’t have to pay the Oakdale Irrigation District’s $369,300 legal bill after the district prevailed in a lawsuit, appellate justices ruled Friday. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup 

Fresno Bee – A moment of clarity in the 2016 campaign: Confirm Merrick Garland for U.S. Supreme Court.

Merced Sun-Star – Proposition 57 could be a danger to our communities.

Sacramento Bee – In theory, Tom Hayden’s death marks an end of an era. But his passing just underscores the enduring importance of his ideals; Federal regulators should set a very high bar to allow the AT&T-Time Warner deal to go forward, and should be at least as skeptical as they were of Comcast’s attempted purchase of Time Warner.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Lack of meeting decorum in Stockton and San Joaquin County, Wells Fargo problems and other issues.