October 1, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Governor signs sexual assault bill prompted by Brock Turner — Embracing the Legislature’s response to a nationally watched sexual assault case, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation mandating prison sentences for assaulting unconscious victims while still voicing concern about rigid sentencing. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleAP articleNew York Times articleEast Bay Times article

Jerry Brown vetoes expansion of unpaid leave for new parents — Citing concerns about the potential liability for small businesses, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday vetoed legislation to expand unpaid leave for new parents to bond with their children. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Gov. Brown

Brown’s 2016 legislative tsunami: Key bills the governor has signed into law – California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed and vetoed numerous bills over the past week. Here is some of the key legislation that he has chosen to either sign or reject. AP article

Jerry Brown makes it crystal clear: He really doesn’t like ranked-choice voting — An effort to expand the use of ranked-choice voting in California, in which voters choose second- and third-choice candidates, was struck down by Gov. Jerry Brown this week with a pretty simple message. He just doesn’t like it. LA Times article

Valley politics

Hanford council candidate claims election mistreatment — Hanford City Council District B candidate Parm Johal says he’s the victim of foul play in an endorsement controversy involving the Kings County Republican Central Committee. Johal, one of four candidates vying for the seat, says he was unfairly denied an opportunity to get the committee’s endorsement. Hanford Sentinel article

More money is flowing into Merced races – One Merced mayoral candidate’s campaign contributions continue to dwarf those of his competitors. Councilman Mike Murphy has gathered $74,074 from June 2015 through the latest reporting period. Documentation for the campaign cash was due Thursday. Merced Sun-Star article

Kern High School District candidate up $21,000 in fundraising — Kern High School District Trustee Jeff Flores has raised more than $21,000 for his re-election bid, some of it from construction outfits the district has dealings with, campaign finance filings show. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Donors pump nearly $390 million into California propositions – Supporters and opponents of California’s 17 November ballot measures have raised nearly $390 million six weeks before the election, putting the state as close as $50 million shy of record initiative fundraising with some of the heaviest spending yet to come.  AP article

Lisa Green: Vote no on Prop 64 – Kern County’s district attorney writes, “There is convincing evidence that if marijuana is legalized, we are not only selling out our futures, as is the case with Rodolfo Contreras and his victim, David Aggio, but also the future of our impressionable children, in order to fill government coffers with an untold number of dollars. It isn’t worth the risk. Vote no on Proposition 64.” Green op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Robin Abcarian: A Republican lawmaker’s hat at a marijuana conference says it all: ‘Make Cannabis Great Again’ — In November, voters in eight other states will be making choices about legalizing recreational and medical marijuana. Like California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada could approve the use of recreational pot. Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota voters will consider legalizing medical marijuana (already the standard in 25 states, plus the District of Columbia). Montana voters will consider easing restrictions on the state’s medical marijuana law. In California, communities up and down the state are scrambling. City councils and boards of supervisors are passing ordinances, moratoriums and bans. Some are courting industry, getting ready to capitalize on what has been described as a coming “green rush.” Others are sticking their heads in the sand. Abcarian column in LA Times

As California considers marijuana legalization, concerns linger over labeling edible products – Proposition 64 establishes warning labeling and packaging requirements for edible products containing marijuana. But public health advocates say the goodies, when taken out of their packaging, look just like regular candy and baked goods and could still easily be consumed by mistake or in excessive amounts. KQED report

Locals react to proposed state tobacco tax — Voters will decide in November whether to increase taxes on cigarettes, tobacco products and e-cigarettes. The tax on a pack of cigarettes would go from 87 cents to $2.87, bringing the price of a pack of cigarettes to around $8. Other tobacco products would have similar tax increases. It’s a move most people in the medical field applaud for two reasons. Hanford Sentinel article

Campaign watchdog investigates porn industry over alleged foreign donations — The Fair Political Practices Commission is investigating the porn industry in response to a complaint alleging that it accepted foreign money to oppose a November ballot measure requiring actors to wear condoms in adult films. Sacramento Bee article

California’s top-two primary reexamined as U.S. Senate race fails to stir voters — Californians get to choose between two Democrats in the race for U.S. Senate, but if you’re not yet sure who you’ll vote for, you’re not alone. KPCC report

Other areas

Stronger equal-pay protections for women and people of color coming soon in California – Equal-pay laws in California will get tougher under two bills Gov. Jerry Brown signed Friday. The two new laws will strengthen wage-equity protections for women and people of color.  One will prohibit employers from paying women less than male colleagues based on prior salary. The other will bar employers from paying workers doing “substantially similar” jobs different wages based on their race or ethnicityLA Times article

California offenders are no longer eligible for early release from parole in deaths of police officers – California offenders will no longer be eligible for early release from parole if they have been convicted of murder in the death of a police officer. LA Times article 

Bill increasing penalties for possessing date-rape drugs becomes law without governor’s signature – In a rare move, Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday he was allowing a bill increasing penalties for possession of date-rape drugs to become law without his signature. LA Times article

New law aims to keep sexual assault survivors’ addresses private – Protections to keep domestic violence survivors’ addresses confidential will be standardized under a bill the governor signed Friday. LA Times article

California increases penalties for secret recordings like Planned Parenthood videos — California will increase punishments for secret recordings like the controversial videos that rocked Planned Parenthood last summer after Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation pushed by the health organization. While it is already illegal to record private conversations without the consent of all parties involved, Assembly Bill 1671 will make it an additional crime for someone who makes such a recording of a health care provider and distributes it. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

More large electronic billboards are possible for downtown LA after governor’s action — More electronic billboards could be allowed in downtown Los Angeles under a new law signed Friday by Gov. Jerry Brown that community activists charge will add to visual blight in the city core. The controversial bill allows developers to erect several giant electronic billboards around the $1-billion Metropolis high-rise project in downtown Los Angeles as long as they also are allowed by the city. LA Times article

Immigrants eager to vote obeyed all the rules.  It didn’t pay – As the number of aspiring citizens grew this year, the backlog at the federal agency that approves naturalizations swelled. With the agency now reporting that it takes up to seven months to complete the process, Obama administration officials are reluctantly admitting that many — perhaps most — of the immigrants in the backlog will not become citizens in time to vote. New York Times article

Joel Fox: Will taxpayers back new state controlled pension system? — Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 1234 to establish a state supervised retirement fund called Secure Choice for private workers. One wonders if at some future time this action will be remembered much like Gov. Gray Davis’s signature on SB 400 of 1999, which put taxpayers on edge by driving public pensions into deep debt. Fox in Fox & Hounds

What’s a shorthanded Supreme Court likely to do in its new term? Maybe nothing — With the court now evenly divided between Democratic appointees and Republican appointees, justices may be wary about deadlocking on the hottest conflicts. A 4-4 tie, like the court reached four times last year following Scalia’s death, lets a lower appellate decision stand but provides no precedent or national uniformity. Tactically speaking, some think the court might be waiting till a ninth justice is confirmed to take up bigger cases. McClatchy Newspapers articleNew York Times article

It’s official: Your blue jeans are a California state symbol — Next time you pull on a pair of jeans, you won’t just be embracing casual fashion: you’ll also be honoring California. Denim has officially entered the pantheon of official state symbols, with Gov. Jerry Brown signing legislation declaring the material the California state fabric. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Paul Garcia: If Emilio could see and hear Donald Trump today, what might he say? — Emilio is a childhood friend of mine whom we appropriately call Malo (mean). Usually, Malo and I converse about old times: friends we have lost and experiences we shared growing up. So it surprised me the other day when he asked me, “Poule, why does Donald Trump want to build a pinche (damn) wall?” I gave him a short-shrift answer that it was Trump’s solution to end unlawful border crossing. Garcia op-ed in Fresno Bee

Terri Richmond: It’s time to call Trump’s bluff on taxes – The social studies teacher at Golden Valley High School writes, “I do know that there is something morally wrong with taking from the system, as Trump does, in the form of services and infrastructure, and deliberately and proudly not paying your fair share. I hope the debate moderators show a greater desire to hold Trump’s feet to the fire and call his bluff on this issue.” Richmond op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Andrew Fiala: Presidential debate reminds us we need less spite and more pity – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “Incivility in the presidential campaign is a symptom of a larger disease. If the candidates are more uncivil than they used to be, that’s because we allow them to get away with it – and also because we get a thrill from watching train wrecks.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

Sex harassment, government probes: Not how park service planned to mark 100 years – A management and morale crisis afflicts the National Park Service, epitomized by but not limited to the abrupt retirement this week of Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher. McClatchy Newspapers article

From Silicon to … Central Valley? — Highway 99 is the vertebrae of California’s San Joaquin Valley. It cuts through miles and miles of agricultural land. It can also take travelers from the Bay Area, known to be a hub for social entrepreneurs and innovators, to Fresno, which is, to put it bluntly, not. Located in the center of California’s vast Central Valley, Fresno is larger than Miami, New Orleans and Kansas City. Starting in the 1970’s, Fresno suffered from urban sprawl. A changing economy caused an exodus of businesses and residents out of the once thriving downtown and converted the once prosperous pedestrian Fulton Mall into a ghost town. But that was Fresno then, not Fresno now. New America article

Convicted Bakersfield Police Department detective outlines what he says were ‘common’ violations by fellow cops – Cops drinking on the job. Paying informants “under the table” with department money. Conducting narcotics seizures without the knowledge of supervisors. Allowing informants, against BPD policy, to continue selling drugs while working with police. Patrol officers “compensated” for assisting with seizures of drugs later sold for profit by cops. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

New life for big vacancy in downtown Modesto – After three years of dormancy, a major hole in downtown Modesto soon will be filled. Official confirmation is not yet available, but it’s been an open secret that the anchor spot in the shopping center on H Street in downtown Modesto is getting a tenant. Two, actually. Modesto Bee article

CalPERS poised to cut retiree pensions in tiny Sierra town – The Loyalton retirees soon may have the unwanted distinction of becoming the first in the state to see their promised retirement benefits slashed because of their former employers’ inability to pay into the public pension fund. Loyalton’s tiny city government is one of three agencies that are so far behind in payments to CalPERS that the fund is taking steps to reduce pensions for former workers. Sacramento Bee article

Golden 1 Center opens for business as Ranadive snips ribbon – Sacramento Kings owner Vivek Ranadive cut the ribbon on Golden 1 Center on Friday as Mayor Kevin Johnson declared the official opening of the new Kings arena “Sacramento’s finest hour.” At a gala celebration attended by hundreds of community leaders, elected officials and Kings owners, the $557 million downtown building was declared open for business. Sacramento Bee article‘Your guide to the Golden 1 Center’ in Sacramento Bee

New arena aims to pull Sacramento into new era without clashing with skyline – The challenge facing Sacramento’s downtown arena designers two years ago was as technical as it was artistic: How do you design a building monumental enough to pull Sacramento’s downtown into a new era architecturally and economically that can also squeeze into a tight space and not clash with the city’s modest skylineSacramento Bee article 

Foon Rhee: Mass deportations would hurt our economy – Even if you want to put aside the unfathomable human cost of mass deportations, you have to consider this: America’s economy would also pay a steep price. Rhee column in Sacramento Bee

Fire destroys walnut facility near Hanford — Firefighters worked through the night Thursday to fight a rural blaze that destroyed a walnut dehydrator and caused millions of dollars in damage. Hanford Sentinel articleFresno Bee article

Tahoe Joe’s online auction selling shuttered restaurant’s stuff — If you have a strong urge to own a deer head from Tahoe Joe’s as a memento, now’s your chance. Everything left inside the Fresno Tahoe Joe’s that closed on West Shaw Avenue is being sold in an online auction that ends the morning of Saturday, Oct. 1. (Ending times vary by item.) Fresno Bee article

More than just a nursery — Four years after a well-known Stockton nursery closed its doors, ending a run that lasted three-quarters of a century, new life has sprouted on Alpine Avenue. In Season officially opened last week, offering not just plants but also locally grown organic produce. Stockton Record article


One word to describe the last water year? Dry – “If you had to put a one-word descriptor on this water year, it would be ‘dry,’” said Doug Carlson, a spokesman for the California Department of Water Resources. “The [precipitation] indexes have been flat-lining since June,” he said. “If this was a body, it would be in cardiac arrest.” And if weather-watchers learned anything from the latest cycle, it’s not to guess about what might come next. LA Times article 

Mike Dunbar: Who will go extinct first: Salmon or Valley farmers? – Here, on the front lines of the state’s recently declared water war, we have more questions than ammunition. Is the State Water Resources Control Board serious? Is the water board even in charge? Was Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for “voluntary agreements,” instead of regulatory demands, a suggestion or an order? Who will go extinct first – salmon or farmers? OK, that’s a rhetorical question; salmon have a huge head start. But the race isn’t over. Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Lance Johnson: Learn from history …fight to keep your water – The retired water resources engineer writes, “At an important meeting last week in Modesto, The Bee reported, Francisco Canela, a member of the Stanislaus County Water Advisory Committee, asked one of the state’s top water regulators a great question: ‘Where’s the end game for this community? That’s our concern. We’re giving more water and more water, and we aren’t getting anything back.’ The short answer to Canela’s question is that the community will never get back any water or anything else.” Johnson op-ed in Modesto Bee

John Holland: Farm Beat: We have a water shortage, but no shortage of water issues — The good news: We might get some rain Sunday. The bad news: We’ve had five straight years of drought, as confirmed by annual measurements that end each Sept. 30. The even worse news: Our region’s long-term water outlook remains as uncertain as ever because of conflicts over our rivers. I would say “as mired as ever,” but you need water for that. Holland in Modesto Bee

New pesticide regulations around schools will make process more complex, Merced County farmers say — Merced County farmers say a proposal to tightly regulate the use of pesticides on farmland near schools and day care centers would create a new layer of burdens for growers. Merced Sun-Star article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Criminal review into June police killing of Dylan Noble not yet started – Three months after unarmed Fresno teenager Dylan Noble was shot by police, the Fresno County District Attorney’s review of the case has not begun. Assistant District Attorney Steve Wright said that his office received the final evidence report from the Fresno Police Department on Thursday. The DA is still waiting for the FBI’s findings. Wright said that once the FBI report arrives, his office will need up to 60 days to review both and decide whether charges are necessary. Fresno Bee article

Stockton police: Hiring goals will be met a year late – Deputy Chief Rick Salsedo told a citizens committee this week that the Stockton Police Department is projecting it will meet staffing goals set forth in the city’s public-safety sales tax by June 30, 2018, one year later than the original target date. Stockton Record article

Bakersfield Police Department Chief Greg Williamson retiring at end of year – Bakersfield Police Department Chief Greg Williamson announced Friday he will retire by the end of the year. Williamson, who was selected for the department’s top position in January 2010, had planned to retired at this point in his career, BPD spokesman Gary Carruesco said. The timing has nothing to do with unrest over police shootings both locally and across the nation, he said. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced County fires back at report on mass incarceration – A report from a national advocacy group gave Merced County a failing grade in incarceration practices, but this week county officials rebutted the findings, questioning its data and saying it neglects to recognize programs adopted in the last two years. Merced Sun-Star article

Street-race suspects who allegedly beat on CHP vehicle arrested – Three men have been arrested for allegedly taking part in a street-racing “sideshow” event last weekend in Fresno, during which a crowd surrounded a CHP officer and beat upon his SUV before he drove to safety. Police are still searching for several others – including the man responsible for smashing two of the SUV’s windows. Fresno Bee article

Second lawsuit alleging sexual abuse filed against Juvenile Hall corrections officer — Attorneys filed a lawsuit Friday against a Juvenile Hall corrections officer accused of sexually abusing a girl at the facility. It marks the second time a lawsuit has been filed against George Anderson on behalf of a teen allegedly abused at Juvenile Hall, attorneys at Chain Cohn Stiles and the Law Office of Thomas C. Seabaugh said in a news release. It’s also the third case the same attorneys have filed against a corrections officer at the facility. Bakersfield Californian article

El Cajon videos show police officer shooting unarmed black man – Authorities on Friday released cellphone and surveillance video showing the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man, hoping to quell growing questions about the incident that has led to violent protests. LA Times article

Sacramento police tried to run over man before shooting him 14 times — Two Sacramento police officers attempted to run over a mentally ill homeless man with their car less than 35 seconds before they shot and killed him, according to recordings released by police this month. Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorial

Blacks and whites differ widely on their perceptions of police shootings, study finds — When a black person is shot and killed by police, blacks tend to see it as a sign of a deeper problem between law enforcement and their community. By contrast, whites are much more likely than blacks to view the fatal shooting as an isolated incident. These are among the findings of a new survey by the Pew Research Center that found large gaps in how whites and blacks perceive police treatment of racial and ethnic minorities. LA Times article

Modesto police get $425,000-plus grant for traffic enforcement — A grant of more than $425,000 will allow the Modesto Police Department conduct a yearlong program of special enforcement and public-awareness efforts to prevent traffic collisions. The grant is from the California Office of Traffic Safety. Modesto Bee article

Merced family fights for justice 10 years after unsolved slayings — Ten years ago, Bill and Lena Chapman were killed in their own home on East South Bear Creek by burglars who then torched the house where the couple had lived for nearly 40 years. Police believe the killers set the fire to cover their tracks.Merced Sun-Star article

Teen’s claim in police sex exploitation case seeks $30 million from Richmond — Attorneys for the teenager at the center of a sexual misconduct scandal involving seven law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area have filed a $30 million claim against the city of Richmond and five police officers. KQED report


Fresno Unified officials walk out of first-ever public teacher talks — Fresno Unified School District officials were booed by dozens of teachers on Thursday after they refused to publicly negotiate with the Fresno Teachers Association on a new contract. Fresno Bee article

Kern High School District’s bond backers received millions in contracts – The two main backers of the Kern High School District’s $280 million bond campaign are a construction company and architecture outfit that have captured more than $140 million in district projects since 2006, campaign finance filings released this week show. Bakersfield Californian article

Todd Oto: Two ballot measures important for Visalia schools – The superintendent of the Visalia Unified School District writes, “The November ballot is overwhelming, with 17 measures for California voters to consider. Contained within this long list are two measures of great importance to Visalia’s schools.” Oto op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

Part-time community college instructors to get job protections – California is set to guarantee collective bargaining rights for adjunct faculty at community colleges with a law that supporters say is the first of its kind in the nation. Sacramento Bee article

Brown vetoes bill requiring charters to comply with conflict of interest, open records law – Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill Friday, pushed hard by the California Teachers Association, that would have required charter schools to comply with the state’s open meetings, public records and conflict of interest laws. EdSource article

Rap concert exposes racial rift at UC Davis — A student’s Facebook post about an October rap concert has exposed racial tensions at UC Davis, prompting a meeting between black leaders and university officials and a shutdown of the event’s Facebook page. Sacramento Bee article


Brown signs bill for earthquake early warning system – Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill that will help build out an earthquake early warning system for California. Once it’s up and running, the system will detect the early stages of a quake and transmit a warning to people’s phones and radios. Mark Ghilarducci with the California Office of Emergency Services says it’s a big step. KVPR report

Cedar Fire fully contained — Officials said Friday the Cedar Fire, which exploded Aug. 16 and burned more than 29,000 acres, is now fully contained. Bakersfield Californian article

Risk of big earthquake on San Andreas fault rises after quake swarm at Salton Sea — The San Andreas fault’s southernmost stretch has not ruptured since about 1680 — more than 330 years ago, scientists estimate. And a big earthquake happens on average in this area once every 150 or 200 years, so experts think the region is long overdue for a major quake. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Kern County lifts no contact advisory for Lake Ming – The Kern County Public Health Services Department has lifted its no contact advisory for the water at Lake Ming. The advisory was issued Aug. 9 due to the presence of potentially harmful levels of bacteria found in the water. Multiple water sample test results taken over the past month have been within the acceptable range, Public Health said Friday. Bakersfield Californian article

Stem cell: Hunting a cure for diabetes — An eminent Harvard stem cell researcher who is searching for a cure for an affliction that plagues 29 million Americans stood on a San Francisco stage this week and spoke of “things we don’t understand.” Capitol Weekly article

Infection outbreak shines light on water risks at dental offices — When people go to the dentist, they generally expect to leave in better health than when they walked in. But the water dentists use to rinse teeth sometimes carries infectious bacteria. NPR report

Land Use/Housing

Measure seeking to halt LA ‘mega-developments’ goes to March ballot — An initiative seeking a two-year ban on zoning changes that would allow for high-density construction around Los Angeles is heading to a popular vote after the City Council on Friday approved placing it on the March 7 ballot. LA Times article

Other areas

Modesto councilwoman owes as much as $1,495 for free plane ride — Modesto Councilwoman Jenny Kenoyer will have to pay for the free ride she took last weekend in a B-29 Superfortress, one of the aircraft that helped the United States and its allies win World War II. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – What’s needed are tough, meaningful pumping restrictions now – not years down the line when the groundwater law gets around to it. State lawmakers need to summon the backbone to revisit Wolk’s proposal, and stop this agricultural water grab.

Sacramento Bee – The many reasons to support Hillary Clinton, not just stop Trump; So now we know why the Sacramento Police Department fought so hard to keep any audio or video of what happened to a mentally ill homeless man away from the public.