October 4, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

John Myers: Jerry Brown re-election bid quiet … just like he wants it – Some four weeks before the final votes are cast, the veteran Democrat’s political operation is only slowly starting to show signs of life. And even then, it’s an effort in support of two ballot measures — not to boost his quest for an unprecedented fourth term.  Myers in KQED

Sacramento Bee: Prop 1 will address state’s water needs – Severe drought has exacerbated weaknesses in California’s water system, highlighting problems that a $7.5 billion water bond would begin to address and giving voters ample reason to approve Proposition 1 on Nov. 4.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown’s law school prof warns against ‘moral escalation’ in politics – Leave it to Gov. Jerry Brown to include in a veto message a reference to a 50-year-old essay in the Federal Bar Journal that makes its point with examples from Plato, the New Testament and traditions of the native American Tlingit people.  Capitol Alert

Bill Whalen: Gov. Brown says no to labor – By my count, SB 25 tells us at least four things about the state of the Golden State.  Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Fresno Bee: The Bee recommends Renteria, Costa, Nunes and Moore for Congress – The Valley needs the strongest possible delegation representing it in Congress. Let’s send Amanda Renteria, Jim Costa, Devin Nunes and Art Moore to the House of Representatives in the Nov. 4 election.  Fresno Bee editorial

AD13: Eggman, Jobrack vie to represent district – Popular Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman may have a monumental lead in fundraising and cash on hand to help her win re-election after one term representing the 13th Assembly District, but Republican challenger Sol Jobrack is determined that she not go unchallenged. Stockton Record article

Fresno judicial candidate Lisa Gamoian missed voting for 10 years, election records say – Lisa Gamoian, one of two candidates seeking to become a Fresno County judge, missed voting for 10 years and just re-registered this year, Fresno County Election Office records reveal.  Fresno Bee article

Xiong keeps Democratic endorsement despite critics – Fresno County Supervisorial candidate Blong Xiong said he knew there could be fallout from his mutual endorsement last week of Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, the Republican Party candidate for state controller. The Fresno County Democratic Party met Wednesday night to consider pulling Xiong’s endorsement. After heated debate, Xiong’s endorsement remained intact.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno teachers union endorses Brooke Ashjian – In a departure from past election cycles the Fresno Teachers Association union has backed only one school board candidate for the Fresno Unified races, picking newcomer Brooke Ashjian from a bundle of candidates including three incumbents.  Fresno Bee article

Crowded field of candidates vie for Central Unified seats – Lots of political hopefuls are looking to lock down a position on the Central Unified school board this November, with 11 candidates vying for four spots in races that have become mostly about dealing with district growth, improving academics and fixing bugs with a new tablet program.  Fresno Bee article

Los Banos school board candidates discuss issues – Candidates for the Los Banos Unified School District Board of Trustees squared off Tuesday. Five of the six people competing for school board spots shared their philosophy on education at a City Hall during Community Candidates Night.   Merced Sun-Star article

Delta offer diversity among trustee candidates – A pastor. A doctor. An engineer. A student. Only two of the seven seats on the San Joaquin Delta College Board of Trustees are up for grabs this November, but voters still will choose from a diverse group of candidates.  Stockton Record article

No charges filed against Atwater planning commissioner – No criminal charges will be filed against Planning Commissioner Fred Warchol for possessing a political sign that was allegedly stolen in a 2006 election, the district attorney’s office confirmed Friday.  Merced Sun-Star article

Dave Bultena: Turlock, Merced council districts won’t guarantee good governance – One of the unanswered questions, especially as to the Turlock and Merced areas, is what damage – if any – has been done by not having minorities on the city’s respective councils. I wonder if district elections in cities such as Merced, where 49 percent of the electorate is one ethnicity, will actually result in any differences in overall governance from what we would have achieved through the current at-large elections?  Bultena column in Merced Sun-Star

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

New California initiative donor ranking leaves out Steyer – More than two years ago, liberal billionaire Tom Steyer gave $200,000 to the campaign supporting Proposition 45, a measure to give the state’s elected insurance commissioner more authority over health insurance rates. Yet his name is nowhere to be seen on a list of top campaign donors maintained by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. Capitol Alert

Bakersfield Californian: Re-elect Dave Jones insurance commissioner – During his first term, the independent Dave Jones struck a balance between these sometimes competing goals. Voters should re-elect him to a second term to continue protecting consumers, while nurturing a financially strong insurance industry.  Bakersfield Californian editorial

Melinda Morales: How judges stay on the job – On the November ballot, voters in Tulare County will be asked to confirm or reject eight associate justices — three from the state Supreme Court and five from the 5th District appellate court. The justices are subject to voter approval at the next gubernatorial election following their appointment and at the conclusion of each 12-year term.  Morales in Visalia Times-Delta

Other areas

California Senate to review its nepotism, hiring practices – The California Senate is reviewing its nepotism policy, examining its hiring procedures and modernizing record-keeping in its human resources department, according to a memo the top administrator of the upper house sent Friday to senators and employees.  Capitol Alert

News Briefs

Top Stories

Valley economic index rose in September – An index of economic indicators for the central San Joaquin Valley increased in September, pointing to economic growth in the next three to six months.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Central San Joaquin Valley hospitals guard against possible Ebola infections – No positive cases of Ebola virus have been identified in California, but central San Joaquin Valley hospitals are gearing up for the possibility. At hospitals across the Valley, infection prevention managers are scanning emails, bulletins and faxes from county, state and federal officials for the latest guidance for identifying patients.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

New retail, homebuilding perks up Merced economy – Three-quarters of the way through 2014, the year is looking like one of slow recovery and forecasters are predicting more improvements in Merced.  Merced Sun-Star article

Hanford Measure S: Necessary or not – A ballot measure aimed at raising Hanford’s sales tax rate to shore up public safety and other city services has become a divisive issue among local residents.  Hanford Sentinel article

Port panel to review dredging contract – Port officials will consider Monday spending up to $1.9 million on the agency’s annual dredging program, this year deepening ship berths along the Rough and Ready Island waterfront to the full depth of 35 feet.  Stockton Record article

Advocates want more limits on Airbnb rentals added to Chiu plan – A broad coalition of housing activists, landlords, tenants, neighborhood groups and organized labor appeared Friday on the steps of San Francisco City Hall, urging stricter rules for pending legislation to legalize vacation rentals in private homes.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Carol Lawson-Swezey: Am I invisible to you? – The Clovis resident writes, “As a displaced worker teetering between retiring and retraining, I sometimes feel I am in the Twilight Zone — that ambiguous place amid light and dark, suspended between reality and dream, or in my case — nightmare.” Lawson-Swezey op-ed in Fresno Bee

Skateland deal falls through – Skateland roller rink will be back on the market soon after a $450,000 deal to sell the property fell through Thursday. Skateland co-owner Natalie Dunn Fries said the buyer, who has been out of the country, missed a 5 p.m. Thursday deadline to sign escrow papers.  Bakersfield Californian article


Earth Log: More water donations needed for East Porterville families with dry taps – Dry taps are spreading in East Porterville, say volunteers who are delivering water to hundreds of homes, but donations of water continue to help.  Fresno Bee article

Judge orders review of Kern Water Bank – Environmental groups and Delta farmers want it returned to state control. Local water interests want it to remain in the hands of, well, local water interests. A Sacramento County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that control of the Kern Water Bank, one of the largest water banks in the nation, will not change hands.  Bakersfield California articleAP article

More time to drill: Water well moratorium delayed – Stanislaus County’s Water Advisory Committee apparently will postpone next week’s vote on whether to recommend a moratorium on well drilling.  Modesto Bee article

Asian citrus psyllid found in Bakersfield – County, state and federal agricultural officials mobilized this week to undertake a survey and treatment program in Bakersfield after an adult female Asian citrus psyllid was found Monday in the Rexland Acres area. The presence of the dreaded agricultural pest is always alarming in a county where citrus is a $642 million-a-year industry.  Bakersfield Californian article

John Harris, of Harris Ranch, named top ag person by Fresno chamber – John Harris, one of Fresno County’s leading farmers and ranchers, was named the 2014 Agriculturist of the Year by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce on Friday.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Modesto police bust type of pot lab not found here before – Following up on an anonymous tip, officers of the Modesto Narcotics Enforcement Team busted an expensive and hazardous type of drug lab not found in the city before. Three people were arrested, and two children were found to be living at residence.  Modesto Bee article

LA’s long-declining violent crime total on pace to this year – For the first time in more than a decade, Los Angeles is on course to end the year with an increase in violent crime, police statistics show.  LA Times article

Policing strategies include social networks – After several years of budget constraints and staffing cuts, the Lodi Police Department has revamped its strategies for public service and crime prevention, with an emphasis on online resources. Additions for the department include expanded duties for a community volunteer group, a crime-mapping site and a Web-based social network.  Stockton Record article

California prison system loses bid to overturn $1 million discrimination award – A Sacramento appellate court has upheld a jury’s verdict that racial discrimination motivated state prison officials to fire an African American employee and then lie about key facts of her dismissal at trial.  Sacramento Bee article

Ida Jones: Racial bias in policing making those ‘living while black’ nervous and afraid – The Fresno State business law professor writes, “When a crime occurs, there should be an investigation. That investigation should include more than detaining the first black woman around. That investigation should include more than ignoring answers to the officer’s questions and immediately taking someone for an unofficial lineup.” Jones in KVPR


California could drop its high school exit test – California students are getting better at passing the high school graduation exam, but the test may be on its way out. Sacramento Bee article

‘Willful defiance’ discipline takes a hit; schools turning to fixing problems instead of suspending – Schoolkids navigate a lot of side roads: each teacher’s way of grading, which classmates get prickly if jostled, how loud of a whisper gets a check on the board. But the walkway to the principal’s office is supposed to be wide and well-marked with warnings: no hitting, no knives, no drugs. Those rules, everyone knows. Less clear are the standards by which each grown-up defines “willful defiance,” a legal category accounting for 42 percent of all suspensions in 2012-13, according to state records. Statistics also show defiance discipline falls hardest on students of color. Modesto Bee article

Robin Geery/Derek Merrill: Inequality is easy to find on UC campuses – The lecturers in UC Merced’s Merritt Writing Program write, “These inequalities are diminishing the standard of living for the majority of Americans, in particular many of the hardworking staff members who keep the UC Merced campus running smoothly on a daily basis.”Geery/Merrill op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

LA Unified reports big rise in its graduation rate – The Los Angeles Unified School District on Friday reported a huge rise in its graduation rate, but left out the students most at risk of not making it to commencement ceremonies. The district’s graduation rate of 77% for the 2013-14 school year was 12 percentage points better than last year, the largest one-year increase under a tracking system that dates from the 2006-07 school year.  LA Times article

Larry White: Actual learning key to making the grade – The former Lincoln High School teacher writes, “Too many times, students, parents, and teachers, get confused about the doing of the work versus actually understanding the material. If we want education to be meaningful and the grade to count for something that benefits everyone, then accurately measuring learning needs to make the grade.”  White op-ed in Stockton Record

Health/Human Services

State warns insurers not to restrict abortion coverage – Seven health insurers in California are mulling how to respond to letters from the state warning them that health plans excluding abortion coverage are a violation of state law.   Bakersfield Californian article

FDA action may speed up valley fever drug development – A promising anti-valley fever drug could move into clinical trials more quickly after federal officials declared it a “qualifying infectious disease product,” officials announced Friday.  Bakersfield Californian article

California regulators clear Obamacare rates, hold off on networks – California regulators won’t challenge the next round of health insurance rate increases in the state exchange, but insurers’ narrow networks of doctors and hospitals are drawing tougher scrutiny.  LA Times article

United Way of Stanislaus County will assist Covered California with second enrollment campaign – United Way of Stanislaus County will assist with promoting the second enrollment period for health coverage through the Covered California exchange this fall. The Stanislaus group was among eight United Way chapters to receive Covered California navigator grants. It will receive $26,000 of the $424,495 in funding awarded to United Way of California and eight of its chapters.  Modesto Bee article

California sees more cases on enterovirus D-68, health officials say – The number of confirmed California cases of enterovirus D-68 has risen to 14, public health officials announced Friday.   LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

More than half of California’s hospitals dinged for readmissions – The federal government is fining 64 percent of California hospitals for having too many Medicare patients return to the hospital within a month of being discharged, according to an analysis of Medicare data by Kaiser Health News.  KQED report

Merced hospital doesn’t want woman in fake baby incident prosecuted – A spokesman for Mercy Medical Center this week said the hospital does not wish to press any criminal charges against a woman arrested in August for allegedly trying to enter the maternity ward while dressed as a nurse and carrying a lifelike baby doll.  Merced Sun-Star article

Other Areas

Michael Fitzgerald: An invitation to increase Stockton’s civic smarts – If, like me, you want the city of Stockton to pick itself up, dust itself off and reach its potential, I hope you will join me and a splendid band of colleagues in raising Stockton’s civic IQ. We call ourselves the Stockton Civics Group. And tomorrow we launch a booklet I wrote called “Stockton Government: How it Works, and How to Make it Work for You.”  Stockton Record article

Judge orders Harry Baker to stay in jail – Harry Baker will remain in the Fresno County jail until his lawyer finds a nursing home that will care for the former Madera County supervisor and make sure he doesn’t skip another court hearing on his long-running child molestation case, a judge said Friday.  Fresno Bee article

No evidence of retaliation by Bay Bridge boss, CHP says – The lead Caltrans official on the Bay Bridge project mishandled engineers’ complaints about work done in China for the new eastern span, but there is no evidence he illegally retaliated against them, state investigators said Friday.  San Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee article

Chandra Levy case stretches out in bid for new trial – The evidence-gathering to resolve a bid for a new trial in the Chandra Levy murder case will now stretch out until at least February 2015, attorneys agreed Friday.  McClatchy Newspapers article

William Robert Belcher, Fresno parks visionary, dies – Fresno has lost one its most faithful environmentalists. William Robert Belcher — “Bob” to all who knew him during his nearly four decades at the city’s parks department — died Tuesday.  Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  During his first term, the independent Dave Jones struck a balance between these sometimes competing goals. Voters should re-elect him to a second term to continue protecting consumers, while nurturing a financially strong insurance industry.

Fresno Bee – The Valley needs the strongest possible delegation representing it in Congress. Let’s send Amanda Renteria, Jim Costa, Devin Nunes and Art Moore to the House of Representatives in the Nov. 4 election; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – Proposition 1 is a crucial investment in California’s future.

Modesto Bee – Our Views: No everybody wants to protect Wood Colony, homelessness in Turlock and other issues.

Sacramento Bee – Severe drought has exacerbated weaknesses in California’s water system, highlighting problems that a $7.5 billion water bond would begin to address and giving voters ample reason to approve Proposition 1 on Nov. 4.