October 3, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Poll: Voters sour on Congress; country’s direction makes them wince – Most Americans view the country moving in the wrong direction and don’t see their financial futures getting better anytime soon, attitudes likely to make it harder for Democrats to do well this fall, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.  McClatchy Newspapers article

U.S. Supreme Court takes up Bay Area immigration case – Taking up the case of a Bay Area woman who has been trying to get her husband into the United States for eight years, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed Thursday to decide whether the government can deny an immigration visa without stating a reason.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Gov. Brown – Bill signings/vetoes

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes expansion of state Voting Rights Act – Amid a flurry of last-minute action on legislation awaiting his signature, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have expanded the ability of minority groups to sue under the state’s Voting Rights Act.  LA Times article

Valley politics

Fresno Bee: Pacheco and Mendes for Fresno County Board of Supervisors – We believe the candidates who are most capable of helping Fresno County realize its great potential are Brian Pacheco in District 1 and Ernest “Buddy” Mendes in District 4. Fresno Bee editorial

Overlapping issues in Assembly, San Joaquin County supervisor races – At a Thursday night forum in City Hall, two candidates jostled for position for an open seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and a Stockton Democrat defended her place in the state Legislature from a Republican challenger. Though the offices were different, issues overlapped, with candidates for both local and state offices talking about how to combat crime, protect supplies of water create jobs in the county as it continues to try and emerge from the depths of recession.  Stockton Record article

Sparks fly at San Joaquin County superintendent forum – James Mousalimas and Jeff Tilton squared off on a number of hot-button issues as the first contested race for superintendent of San Joaquin County Schools in more than two decades heads into its final weeks.  Stockton Record article

Fresno County elections mistake will require new retirement board balloting – A missed trip to the post office could cost Fresno County taxpayers $10,000 after elections officials neglected to retrieve filled-out ballots for a vacant seat on the Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association board by a deadline.  Fresno Bee article

Kern High School District board candidates talk expulsion, BC satellite campus – Local school board candidates discussed much-criticized Kern High School District expulsion rates and a need for career and technical education Thursday night at a public debate in contested KHSD and Kern Community College District races. Responses from candidates to moderator and Californian Executive Editor Robert Price’s questions split along lines of school board experience.  Bakersfield Californian article

Atwater City Council and mayor candidates face off in forum – With the November election quickly approaching, candidates for Atwater City Council and mayor faced off at a forum this week, fielding questions on a variety of subjects, from city finances and economic development to transparency and public safety.  Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Jan Scully, Scott Jones, and Chris Boyd: Prop 47 would turn criminals loose – Sacramento County District Attorney Scully, Sacramento County Sheriff Jones and Citrus Heights Police Chief Boyd write, “It all boils down to the fact that Proposition 47 would result in more crime, new victims and less safety. Safe neighborhoods and schools? Not if Proposition 47 passes. Please vote ‘no.’” Scully/Jones/Boyd op-ed in Sacramento Bee

George Gascon: Prop 47 would reduce crime and save money – San Francisco’s district attorney writes, “California can lead the nation on the march toward a modern justice system that breaks the cycle of crime by addressing its root causes. Join me on Nov. 4 in supporting Proposition 47 for common-sense, evidence-based reform to our justice system.” Gascon op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Ad Watch: Prop 46 foes distort reality in new TV ad – The campaign formed to oppose Proposition 46 has added to its critique of the measure, arguing in a new TV ad called “ Inside” that it puts Californians’ medical information at risk.  Capitol Alert

Swearengin voices support for gay marriage – Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin has announced that she now supports gay marriage. Swearengin, a Republican who is running for state controller had been a supporter of Proposition 8. She announced her new position last week at a meeting of an LGBT conservative group in Southern California.  KVPR report


UC Davis opens campus office for undocumented students – As UC Davis began its school year Thursday with the most undocumented students in its history, the university introduced an unprecedented campus office designed to assist them with everything from graduation requirements to legal filings.  Sacramento Bee article

Obama: I’ll take executive action on immigration between the midterms and the end of the year – President Obama said Thursday night that he would take executive action on immigration sometime between the midterm elections and the end of the year.  Washington Post article

Other areas

Dan Walters Daily: Ethics package lets lawmakers have it both ways – Gov. Jerry Brown’s veto of an ethics package introduced in response to scandal is less of a setback for lawmakers than you might think, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Unions, business groups take sides on Sacramento strong mayor – Another wave of endorsements for and against Sacramento’s strong-mayor ballot measure were announced Thursday. Three unions announced that they were opposing Measure L, while two other unions and a local business group said they were supporting it. Sacramento Bee article

California Legislature withholds nepotism report – Citing broad exemptions under California’s legislative records law, the state Senate is keeping secret a taxpayer-funded report about Capitol staff hiring friends and relatives despite calls by lawmakers, statewide candidates and public interest groups that it be released.  AP article

Obama says his economic vision will be a key issue in midterm election – President Obama sought out a hometown crowd Thursday for his message that has gotten little traction elsewhere recently — on the nation’s slow but steady economic recovery.  LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Dan Walters: Bankruptcy judge lights fuse with Stockton pension ruling – So what now? If Stockton makes a deal with its only remaining nonpension creditor, Klein may not force the city – and, by extension, CalPERS – to cut pension debts. But were he to find that without pension cuts Stockton is truly not out of the financial woods, he could reject the plan. We probably will also see a renewal of efforts by public employee unions to pass legislation forcing local governments to get permission from union-friendly state officials before seeking bankruptcy. Klein has lit the fuse on what could be a political bomb.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Fresno finally accepts $1 million to plan high-speed rail station – It took two months, but the Fresno City Council finally decided there’s little downside to accepting a free million bucks. The decision wasn’t unanimous. The council on Thursday voted 5-2 to spend $1 million in grants for a consultant who will dig into all sorts of planning details connected to the proposed high-speed rail station in downtown.  Fresno Bee article

California dairy farmers struggling to survive prolonged drought – California dairy farmers lead the nation in dairy production, churning out 21% of America’s milk supply and contributing $140 billion annually to the state’s economy, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The historic water crisis has been rough on dairies, driving up the cost of feed and water. Consumers are seeing the effects at the grocery store.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Michael Fitzgerald: What bankruptcy means, where it’s going – Stockton’s bankruptcy: one down, and one to go. The one down, of course, is CalPERS. The state pension management colossus saw its astute claim of legal invulnerability shattered Wednesday in federal court. The idea that a bankrupt city can cut debt payments to all creditors but a royally immune pension system, even if doing so yanks the guts out of a city, is a thing of the past.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Michael Hiltzik: In Stockton bankruptcy case, the target is the working class – As is well known, in bankruptcy court one can lose all control over one’s destiny. That’s what is happening here, and it’s Stockton’s workers and retirees who certainly will be paying the harshest price.  Hiltzik column in LA Times

Stockton Record: Judge Judicious – The Cleveland Indians once had a baseball player who took so long to get into the batter’s box between pitches that he was affectionately dubbed The Human Rain Delay. Federal Judge Christopher Klein, presiding over Stockton’s getting-to-feel-like-root-canal bankruptcy case, is becoming the Human Judicial Rain Delay.  Stockton Record editorial

Sacramento Bee: Stockton bankruptcy case should be a loud warning to cities – A judge’s potentially groundbreaking ruling in the Stockton bankruptcy case should send messages loud and clear. To the Legislature – that it can’t rewrite federal bankruptcy law. To the city of Stockton, Franklin Templeton Investments and CalPERS – that they need to make a deal. And to local officials across California – that they need to get more serious about pension reform.  Sacramento Bee editorial

U.S. jobless rate falls to 6-year low of 5.9 percent – U.S. employers added 248,000 jobs in September, a burst of hiring that helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008. AP articleLA Times article

Lemoore Navy base to be home for new F35-C fighter jets – Lemoore Naval Air Station will be the West Coast home base for the new F-35C fighter jets, the Navy announced Thursday. The F-35Cs will replace the Navy’s aging FA-18 Hornet aircraft. Beginning in 2016, a total of 100 F-35Cs will be based at the Kings County facility, according to U.S Fleet Forces in Norfolk, Virginia.  Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta articleHanford Sentinel articleThe Business Journal articleKVPR report

Stanislaus County forms plans for manufacturing, distribution centers at former Crows Landing air base – The former Crows Landing naval airfield in western Stanislaus County has not been debated since the plans for West Park were put to rest two years ago. Now, county government has a preliminary plan for developing the former air facility west of Highway 33 between Patterson and Newman.  Modesto Bee article

Business sales down in Fresno, Tulare counties – Business sales dipped slightly throughout Fresno and Tulare counties in September, ending a four-month growth trend. The Business Journal article

Four charities raised $358,000 at last month’s Community Brunch – Four Stanislaus County charities raked in nearly $358,000 in proceeds from last month’s Community Brunch. The festive four-hour fundraiser was designed as a competition, and the Society for Disabilities came out on top.  Modesto Bee article

U.S. tightens scrutiny of fashion district for money laundering – The move by the U.S. Treasury Department marks one of the largest such actions ever undertaken by federal authorities and is the latest attempt to clamp down on the financial pipeline for the multibillion-dollar drug trade, federal officials said.  LA Times article


Satellite images reveal shocking groundwater loss in California – The severity of California’s drought continues to shock, with the latest example coming courtesy of NASA. The space agency’s two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment, or GRACE, satellites have been been in orbit since 2002, making highly sensitive measurements of Earth’s gravity field. Variations in the gravity field can be caused by a number of factors, including the amount of water stored underground in soil and rocks.  LA Times article

With dry taps and toilets, California drought turns desperate – In the Gallegos household and more than 500 others in Tulare County, residents cannot flush a toilet, fill a drinking glass, wash dishes or clothes, or even rinse their hands without reaching for a bottle or bucket.  New York Times article

Smartphone apps let neighbors report water wasters – From Long Beach to Placer County, officials are rolling out apps that allow users to snap and send photos of homes and businesses that are violating watering restrictions or operating broken and wasteful irrigation systems.  LA Times article

EPA sends California $183 million more for water fixes – With the backdrop of a parched landscape near the San Joaquin River, a top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official on Thursday pledged $183 million to invest in drought-scarred California’s water needs.  Fresno Bee article

California drought prompting extraordinary measures to protect salmon – State and federal wildlife officials this month are preparing extraordinary measures to protect Chinook salmon returning to spawn in California’s drought-depleted rivers.  Sacramento Bee article

Green Building Council conducts water audits at schools – Members of the U.S. Green Building Council Central California conducted water audits at local schools on Saturday to help campus officials save and rethink water use during the drought.  Fresno Bee article

Judge tosses lawsuit challenging California egg laws – A Sacramento federal judge has dismissed a February lawsuit brought by leaders of six Midwestern and Southern states with large egg industries that sought to overturn California rules requiring more space for egg-laying hens.  Capitol AlertSan Francisco Chronicle article

Judge won’t toss suit against strawberry industry against UC Davis over plant research – Lawyers for the University of California were unable Thursday to derail a lawsuit accusing UC Davis of scuttling a lucrative, decades-old agreement to breed new varieties of fruit for California’s strawberry growers.  Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

LA County unable to avert federal oversight of jails – Federal officials have rejected a last-ditch effort by Los Angeles County to maintain control over its jails and will move forward with a consent decree to address longstanding problems with mental health care in the troubled facilities.  LA Times article

Law enforcement community says goodbye to former Bakersfield Police Chief Eric Matlock – He was admired for his coolness under pressure; envied for being the best-dressed cop in Bakersfield, ever; and emulated as a role model and mentor. But according to friends and colleagues who spoke at his funeral Thursday, former Bakersfield Police Chief Eric Matlock will be remembered most for the love he had for the community he served, the department he led, and most of all, the cops who served alongside him.  Bakersfield Californian article

Tevis Junior High vice principal files claim against Bakersfield Police Department – Attorneys for a Tevis Junior High vice principal arrested on the campus in August by Bakersfield police for having a concealed gun filed a legal claim against the police department Thursday claiming false arrest and other damages.  Bakersfield Californian article

Inmates learn as they teach wild horses – Just two weeks into a new program that allows inmates to help train wild mustangs, a chestnut mare is already allowing herself to be hand-fed by a pack of humans.  Sacramento Bee article


Instructional coaches help teachers implement new teaching standards – They teach the teachers. Nicknamed “The Terrific Trio,” three Merced Union High School District teachers are instructional coaches. They brief the district’s 450 teachers on new learning and instructional techniques for almost all subjects, literacy and technology in particular.  Merced Sun-Star article

Local institutes granted $4.8 million to help improve workforce – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced $86 million was awarded to 198 community colleges, school districts, libraries and nonprofits as part of the federal Workforce Investment Act Grant.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Could College of the Sequoias offer four-year degree? – If California community colleges were to offer baccalaureate degrees in select vocational fields, College of the Sequoia student Moya Porter, 42, said she believes students enrolled in the programs would be better off than students pursuing the field at the two-year degree level — and for less than students pay at four-year colleges.  Visalia Times-Delta articleHanford Sentinel article

Stockton Unified teachers picket even though bargaining session cancelled – Carrying signs, shouting and blowing whistles, members of the Stockton Teachers Associated led a two-hour protest outside Stockton Unified School District’s North Madison Street headquarters Thursday afternoon scheduled to coincide with a planned mediation session over a contract dispute that has stretched longer than a year.  Stockton Record article

UC Merced professors receive grants for research – Two UC Merced professors were recently awarded grants from the National Institutes of Health to further their research in Alzheimer’s disease and HIV prevention.  Merced Sun-Star article


Madera sheriff: Man burning deer carcass said he started Courtney fire – A man burning a deer carcass outside Oakhurst confessed and apologized for accidentally starting the Courtney fire, which destroyed 30 homes last month near Bass Lake, Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said Thursday.  Fresno Bee article

Reveal PG&E San Bruno blast penalty, 3 CPUC members urge – Three members of the California Public Utilities Commission called Thursday for the panel to review the $1.4billion penalty that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. faces for the 2010 San Bruno gas explosion.  San Francisco Chronicle article

CPUC member sorry for ‘serious mistakes’ in judge-shopping case – One member of the California Public Utilities Commission publicly apologized Thursday for “very serious mistakes” he made in the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. judge-shopping case, but the commission’s president was silent on his role in the affair.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Court upholds water releases for salmon on north state rivers – A federal judge in Fresno has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation did not violate the law when it made special reservoir releases last year to help salmon in Northern California’s Klamath River survive the drought rather than save the water for farms.  KQED report

Public can comment on La Grange Dam studies – The public will get another chance Monday to weigh in on La Grange Dam, erected on the Tuolumne River decades before the far larger Don Pedro Reservoir came along.  Modesto Bee article

Residents of Del Rio enclave overcome by foul odor – When the familiar stench wafts over this country club enclave, some neighbors retreat inside, close windows to their homes, fetch the Lysol or Febreze, hunker down and do a slow burn. “We’re like prisoners in our homes,” said Randy Butler. “You don’t know if you can have friends over for a backyard barbecue. You’re playing Russian roulette.”  Modesto Bee article

Health/Human Services

Cancer risk from air pollution drops in Southern California – Southern Californians’ cancer risk from air pollution has dropped 65% since 2005 but is still too high in many areas, regional air quality regulators said in a report released Thursday.  LA Times article

UC Riverside med school seeks out, fast tracks local med students to keep doctors in region – To combat that dearth of doctors, administrators at UCR’s School of Medicine have created a novel program aimed at attracting home-grown med students, training them and then keeping the newly-minted doctors in the region.  KPCC report

2 Alameda County youths diagnosed with enterovirus – Two Alameda County youths and one Solano County child tested positive for a virus that can cause severe respiratory illness, authorities said Thursday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Expanded Covered California dental coverage could pose access problems – Beginning Jan. 1, all individual Covered California health plans will include dental coverage for children in the family 18 and younger, a move that state officials hope will result in tens of thousands of kids getting oral health care.  HealthyCal article

Videos show mom coaxing, Jahi McMath moving – To bolster his claim that Jahi McMath should be declared “alive again,” the attorney for the Oakland teenager’s family displayed video clips Thursday that he says show the girl responding to her mother’s requests to move her feet and hands.  San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article


California looks for manufacturers to build high-speed train sets – The California High-Speed Rail Authority wants to see which global firms want to bid for the job of building dozens of ultra-fast train sets and developing four maintenance plants for its proposed statewide rail line — including a coveted heavy-maintenance facility that would bring hundreds of permanent jobs to the San Joaquin Valley.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento manufacturer Siemans to compete for California bullet-train contract – Siemens Rail Systems, the Sacramento-based train-manufacturing giant, said it will make a play this month to win the first major contract to build trains for the California High Speed Rail Authority.  Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

Merced efforts to curb underage drinking to expand – More than 40 people from Merced bars, liquor stores and grocery markets brushed up on the laws related to alcohol Thursday with the help of the Merced Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Task Force, which is a collaboration of several agencies. Merced Sun-Star article

Kevin Valine: Media attorney finds fault with district attorney’s response to records request – I normally write about Modesto, but this week, I’m focusing on Ceres, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office and the city’s investigation into the use of cameras by police officers in the workplace and the extent to which those cameras were hidden.  Valine in Modesto Bee

New lights go on above Tower District streets – Revelers turned out Thursday night a ceremony to light up the new Tower District cross-street lights that zigzag over Olive, Fulton and Fern avenues.  Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We believe the candidates who are most capable of helping Fresno County realize its great potential are Brian Pacheco in District 1 and Ernest “Buddy” Mendes in District 4.

Merced Sun-Star – It will take more than Director Julia Pierson’s dismissal to fix Secret Service.

Modesto Bee – It will take more than Director Julia Pierson’s dismissal to fix Secret Service.

Sacramento Bee – A judge’s potentially groundbreaking ruling in the Stockton bankruptcy case should send messages loud and clear. To the Legislature – that it can’t rewrite federal bankruptcy law. To the city of Stockton, Franklin Templeton Investments and CalPERS – that they need to make a deal. And to local officials across California – that they need to get more serious about pension reform.

Stockton Record – The Cleveland Indians once had a baseball player who took so long to get into the batter’s box between pitches that he was affectionately dubbed The Human Rain Delay. Federal Judge Christopher Klein, presiding over Stockton’s getting-to-feel-like-root-canal bankruptcy case, is becoming the Human Judicial Rain Delay.

Visalia Times-Delta – Are you prepared to vote in November?