October 26, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Geography, not politics, hurts Central Valley candidates – Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s biggest obstacle in her run for state controller might not be that she’s a Republican in a deep-blue state or a woman where men often dominate politics. Instead, it’s her Fresno address that could cause trouble. In a state where the voting population, money and political clout flows from the densely populated cities along the coast, Central Valley politicians historically have had a tough time getting elected to statewide office.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Dan Walters: Has crime faded away as big issue? – Crime – or the fear of crime – dominated California’s politics for a quarter-century. Proposition 47, which would reduce punishment for some crimes, tests whether that era has passed.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Every election is different, especially those in June and November – Incumbent Hanford Republican Andy Vidak walloped challenger Luis Chavez in the June primary election for the 14th state Senate seat, posting a 22-percentage-point victory margin. Thanks to the state’s election rules, the two will meet next month for round two. But experts say making any assumptions on that outcome based on the June primary results would be wrong.  Fresno Bee article

Valley politics

CD10: Rail industry’s support follows Denham’s ascent in House – In two years, Rep. Jeff Denham has gone from a Republican backbencher to a key subcommittee chairman and in a league with higher-ranking and senior members of Congress when it comes to financial support from the railroad industry.  McClatchy Newspapers article

San Joaquin County supervisor election: Candidate’s time on bank board questioned – A candidate for county supervisor served briefly on the board of directors of a local bank before it failed and was closed by the federal government in 2010, during the fallout of a financial crisis that saw hundreds of other community banks share the same fate.  Stockton Record article

Madera County sheriff candidates Salvador, Varney address issues – Two of Madera County’s law enforcement leaders, Undersheriff Michael Salvador and Chowchilla Chief of Police Jay Varney, are campaigning toward the November election to replace longtime Sheriff John Anderson, who is retiring.  Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Brown, Kashkari campaigns test two connected theories – In this mid-term election, as in the last one in 2010, California is like a lone balloon untethered from the national pack, zigging off while much of the country zags. Republicans hold the upper hand in many of the key races nationally, and incumbents are under assault. Not here. LA Times article

Gov. Brown promotes restraint – Restraint and steady progress don’t necessarily make for catchy political slogans. But a sure-handed approach to managing California’s fiscal recovery is Gov. Jerry Brown’s central pitch to voters as he seeks re-election to an unprecedented fourth term as governor.  AP article

Kashkari aims to rebrand GOP – Neel Kashkari is trying to rewrite the playbook for Republican gubernatorial candidates in California and nudge the party back to relevance after years of declining registration.  AP article

California prison changes largely unnoticed in gubernatorial race – It’s not the focus of this year’s campaign for governor, but under Jerry Brown the state’s approach to criminal justice has gone in a dramatically new direction. Underlying it all: too many inmates and too few cells.  KQED report

Fresno Bee: Prop 1 would help restore the delta, too – Restoring the ecological health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is critical to California’s water system. It’s also another reason why voters should approve Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November ballot.  Fresno Bee editorial

Prop 46 aims to increase malpractice awards, test doctors – Proposition 46 is the latest salvo in a decades-long fight between medical doctors and trial lawyers. The three-pronged initiative would increase the limit on damages for pain and suffering, require random drug and alcohol testing of doctors and mandate that health professionals consult a statewide drug database before issuing certain medications to patients to prevent “doctor shopping.”  Sacramento Bee article

San Diego tribes keep close eye on Prop 48 – Could a measure on the November ballot that deals with a dusty Central Valley town pave the way for Indian casinos in big cities across California, perhaps even in downtown San Diego?  U-T San Diego article

Bill Whalen: Death of California GOP may be greatly exaggerated – Such is the California GOP’s approach in 2014: expend little capital on the races at the top of the ticket and focus instead on legislative races and nuts-and-bolts campaigning.  Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Early voting alters campaigns’ strategies, costs –  For over 1 million Californians, the Nov. 4 election is over. That’s because they’ve already voted. A growing throng of early voters in the nation’s most populous state — perhaps comprising half of all votes to be cast in California’s general election — has stretched Election Day into weeks. Candidates who wait until the end to close the deal with voters will be too late.  AP article

Ad Watch: Mailer hits Richard Pan for residency questions – A committee backed by trial lawyers, environmentalists and nurses has sent out a mailer to voters in the 6th Senate District that blasts Assemblyman Richard Pan for taking taxpayer money to cover his living expenses at a second home when Pan ran for an Assembly seat on the south side of Sacramento while maintaining his family house in Natomas.  Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Dan Morain: Transparency can combat corruption – Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid and the other forces of darkness in the U.S. Senate may have met their match, in the person of Kuang Chen. Chen is a 34-year-old computer wizard who runs a startup called Captricity in downtown Oakland and has the crazy notion that transparency can combat corruption, and maybe even save lives.  Morain in Sacramento Bee

Karen Skelton: Democrats and Republicans haven’t figured out how to talk to women – The founder of Skelton Strategies writes, “Politicians are out of touch with women voters. On the one hand, this is not surprising. Politicians are out of touch with most people.” Skelton op-ed in Sacramento Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

David Mas Masumoto: Dear Mr. Niño – Dear Mr. Niño, May I call you El? I’m hoping you’ll come visit us this winter and stay for a while. I miss the wave after wave of storms from northern cold fronts or the soothing Pineapple Express warm tropical storms that stretch from Hawaii to California. You have an open invitation to come anytime. Masumoto column in Fresno Bee

Riverbank looks to broaden merchant restrictions – Having restricted tattoo shops, city leaders now will consider banning cafes with online gambling; lounges where people smoke hookah pipes, e-cigarettes and vaporizers; smoke shops selling drug paraphernalia; and possibly stores selling e-cigarettes.  Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Behind-the-scenes jobs for holidays growing – Though plenty of workers will be hired at mall stores and others during the holiday shopping season, companies are increasingly hiring for behind-the-scenes jobs. As more people shop online, more workers are needed to box up gifts and load them into trucks at distribution centers. And more still are needed to deliver them to homes.  Fresno Bee article

Kingsburg new business competition is open – The Launching Pad competition is accepting applications for new businesses interested in opening in Kingsburg. The winner will receive $25,000 worth of business goods and services and help starting the business.  Fresno Bee article

Historic bank building – in Taft – born again – Glenn Black, 55, a Taft native and longtime plumbing contractor, and his business partner, restaurateur Dennis Schertz, 46, are just weeks away from transforming the structure at North and Fifth streets into a restaurant and sports bar called, what else, The Bank.  Bakersfield Californian article

Giants watching election with waterfront development in mind – The San Francisco Giants aren’t just about building World Series teams — they are also about becoming one of the biggest waterfront real estate empires the city has seen. And that has them keeping a close eye on the scoreboard in the upcoming election.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Urban infill projects see strong demand in Sacramento – Over the last decade, developers have been saying strong demand for new housing close to Sacramento’s urban core would drive construction in some of the city’s most challenging infill sites.  Sacramento Bee article

Science center, downtown Sacramento street car push is on – Downtown Sacramento’s $477 million arena megaproject is well underway. The question now is whether officials can successfully launch two other major projects downtown that have struggled for financing, an $89 million Powerhouse Science Center on the riverfront and a $150 million streetcar line connecting Sacramento and West Sacramento.  Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Republic execs, mayor to meet in New York with top Major League Soccer officials – Continuing to press their case for a Major League Soccer franchise, top executives of Sacramento Republic FC and Mayor Kevin Johnson will make a presentation to league officials Tuesday in New York.  Sacramento Bee article

Family members beat the odds in winning prized firefighting jobs – Offering six-figure pay and generous benefits, jobs at the Los Angeles County Fire Department are among the most sought-after in the field. Nearly 95% of applicants are turned away. Department officials say the hiring of firefighters is based purely on merit, with the best candidates selected through an exacting regimen of testing and interviews. But a Times investigation has found that the process favors one particular type of applicant: sons of L.A. County firefighters.  LA Times article

Mark Bucher: Big pensions drive proposed tax increases on California ballots – The president of the California Policy Center writes, “When Californians go to the polls on Nov. 4, they will face 140 different proposed tax increases on various local ballots. These range from old favorites like hotel and sales taxes in Palm Desert and Palo Alto to new targets like soda and marijuana taxes in San Francisco and Santa Cruz.” Bucher op-ed in Sacramento Bee


A new standard for California olive oil – Last month, the California Department of Food and Agriculture announced new standards for the state’s olive oil producers, based on recommendations from the industry’s leaders.  KQED report

Michael Hiltzik: Golden State Water tries to drown Claremont ballot measure – Self-preservation is the most basic instinct in nature. For Golden State Water Co., it also has a price: $300,000. That’s about how much the water system is spending to defeat a Claremont ballot measure enabling the city to try to seize its local water system by eminent domain and convert it to a municipal service. The San Dimas-based corporation is overwhelming the opposition, which has assembled a war chest of about $30,000.  Hiltzik in LA Times

Michael Fitzgerald: The hero that Stockton forgot – A park, a school, a street — something in Stockton should be named for Larry Itliong, the forgotten Filipino leader. Itliong (1913-1977) had as much to do with the creation of the United Farm Workers as Cesar Chavez, about whom there was a movie earlier this year, and Delores Huerta, for whom a Stockton school is named.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Feds say Sacramento shooting suspect was deported twice, had drug conviction – Investigators were poring over the conflicting backgrounds Saturday of a Utah couple accused in a crime spree that killed two deputies, with federal authorities saying the 34-year-old man charged in the slayings has used at least two identities and has been deported from the United States twice in the past.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

3 CHP officers suspected of sharing nude photos – A California Highway Patrol officer suspected of stealing nude and racy photos from the cellphones of women arrested on drunken driving charges sent the pictures to at least two fellow officers in what he called a game, according to court documents.  AP article


After hazing allegations, CSUN bans fraternity pledging –  As Cal State Northridge investigates another possible hazing incident, the school has banned its 54 fraternities and sororities from all recruitment and pledging activities for new members possibly until the spring, officials said.  LA Times article

Kids hear tough lessons on drugs – De La Torre, who is recovering from addiction, spoke at the Great Valley Elementary School cafeteria last week during a presentation meant to steer children away from gateway drugs. San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Richard Vlavianos, who leads the programs at local schools, said the idea is to expose children to people who are going through real consequences of their choices.  Stockton Record article


Despite California climate law, carbon emissions may be a shell game – California’s pioneering climate-change law has a long reach, but that doesn’t mean all its mandates will help stave off global warming.  LA Times article

Yosemite rangers try to keep hungry bears at bay – Rangers at Yosemite National Park are in a constant battle to keep wild black bears — with their ultra-keen noses and powerful paws and jaws — far away from humans. AP article

Drought, disease wait in Valley for migratory birds – Don’t be fooled by the happy honking geese and dancing sandhill cranes. This may seem like a happy winter pit stop for migrating birds, but owls and other predators can quickly deal a lethal blow to a good time. It’s a risk these birds face every year as they fly south from frigid Canada and Alaska. But this year, predators may be the least of the worries for these birds.  Fresno Bee article

Carmakers prepare to shift to hydrogen fuel cells – Concerned about slow sales of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, automakers are increasingly betting the future of green cars on hydrogen fuel cell technology.  LA Times article

Bill Wells: Water hyacinth choking Delta is unacceptable – The executive director of California Delta Chambers and Visitor’s Bureau writes, “The hyacinth situation in parts of the California Delta has become a disaster. The navigable part of the Calaveras River is completely filled in with the pest as are Buckley Cove, downtown Stockton harbor, Whiskey Slough, much of the San Joaquin River and many other areas — this is just a sampling.”  Wells op-ed in Stockton Record

Health/Human Services

Panic, not Ebola, is biggest enemy, civic and health leaders say – There have been no confirmed cases of Ebola so far in Southern California, but anxiety over the disease has taken root.  LA Times article

San Diego County records its first West Nile virus death since 2007 – A 78-year-old man in La Mesa has died of West Nile virus as the state continues to suffer its worst outbreak of the mosquito-spread brain infection in nearly a decade.  LA Times article

New plans for organ donation give patients hope – There are vast differences in wait list times from one region of the country to another, so some patients find it’s in their best interest to move to increase their odds of a match. United Network for Organ Sharing, the nonprofit administrative body that manages the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, recognizes the inefficiency of the system and is trying to address it.  Bakersfield Californian article

Donald W. Blout: Raising cancer awareness a year-round effort – When it comes to cancer, it is up to us to raise awareness whether it be January, October or any other month.  Blount column in Stockton Record

Sacramento Bee: Give the dying the right to pick how and when to die – The data should also empower political leaders in other states to restart the public debate about whether dying people have the right to consciously choose how they live, or don’t, in their final days.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Lois Henry: Healing veterans with a wet nose and tail wag – Sadie takes the wiggy away for Sager. Restaurants, movies, shopping — normal civilian life — all opened up to Sager after he joined up with Sadie in September 2013. Sadie is a lively golden lab certified as a PTSD service dog through Sherri’s Project: Wounded Warrior Pack of San Diego, which has a satellite program in Bakersfield.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Land Use/Housing

Jeff Jardine: Modesto home that was victim of housing crisis gets new life – On Orange Avenue, just a couple of blocks east of Modesto Junior College, a renovation in progress might seem like any other.  Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Other Areas

Coarsegold tarantula festival draws spiders, spectators – Each fall, thousands of large, hairy tarantulas hit the streets in search of a date — or dates, a former professional tarantula breeder explained Saturday morning.  Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Restoring the ecological health of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is critical to California’s water system. It’s also another reason why voters shouldapprove Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November ballot.

Modesto Bee – We’ve got a to-do list for Gov. Brown’s fourth term; It’s time to bag opposition to the bag ban.

Sacramento Bee – Prop 1 would aid Delta habitat, fish and region; The data should also empower political leaders in other states to restart the public debate about whether dying people have the right to consciously choose how they live, or don’t, in their final days.