October 4, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Gov. Jerry Brown, in his 14th year as governor, hits a new high with vetoes — In his 14th year as governor, Brown appeared to be a little more impatient with legislators. This year, he vetoed a higher proportion of measures they sent to his desk, 159 of 1,059, or 15.01 percent, than he had rejected in any of his previous 13 years in the governorship. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Proposition 64 has divided the medical community, with many planning to vote ‘no’ to legalizing recreational use – Proposition 64 has split the medical cannabis community, with some seeing new opportunity and others fearing it will wreck a system that is working for nearly 800,000 medical pot card holders. LA Times article

 Gov. Brown

 Gov. Brown endorses Democrats in six House races — Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed six House candidates Monday, all of whom are fighting to keep or flip a seat for the Democrats. Among the candidates Brown endorsed: Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove); Michael Eggman (challenging Rep. Jeff Denham in the 10th District); Emilio Huerta (challenging Rep. David Valadao in the 21st). LA Times article

 Joel Fox: Cheers and jeers for Gov. Brown’s bill signings and vetoes — It is apparent that Gov. Jerry Brown doesn’t always listen to the advice I offer freely through commentaries on this page. With the governor finishing the Herculean task of deciding on over 1000 bills, I looked over past articles I wrote for this site on specific bills to see if my suggestions were followed. Of nine bills, the governor and I were on the same side only three times. Fox in Fox & Hounds

 Valley politics

 Judge won’t compel grand juror to testify — A judge declined Monday morning to release a civil grand juror to testify on behalf of City Council candidate Sam Fant, who is facing felony election fraud and conspiracy charges. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

For some, fixing the death penalty means speeding up executions – Kate and Richard Riggins’ son, John, was murdered along with his girlfriend, Sabrina Gonsalves, in 1980. At the time, John was a freshman attending the University of California at Davis. KQED report

As Prop 51 support weakens, advocates hit campaign trail – Just weeks after polling numbers showed that Proposition 51 is losing support statewide, a group of state and county educational leaders gathered Monday at Horace Mann Elementary School advocating for the passage of the $9 billion school construction bond. Bakersfield Californian article

Ad against marijuana legislation makes accurate claims – Impaired driving and youth exposure continue to be focal points for opponents of marijuana legalization, who contend that Proposition 64 would endanger kids allured by pot brownies and motorists sharing the road with stoned drivers. A web-only ad from opponents (they have not yet purchased television airtime) advances those claims. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Bee: Poorly written Proposition 57 deserves your ‘no’ vote – It’s hard to imagine a more poorly conceived and written ballot measure than Proposition 57, which would amend the California Constitution so that so-called “nonviolent” felons could more easily parole out of prison and return to society. Fresno Bee editorial

Bernie Sanders to appear in California TV ads again – this time not for himself — Borrowing a page from an old campaign playbook, proponents of November’s prescription drug pricing measure launched their fall TV ad campaign with a figure familiar to voters:Sen. Bernie SandersSacramento Bee article

Joan Buchanan: School districts need Prop 51 money to fix, build classrooms – The former state Assembly member writes, “Sacramento hasn’t done its job to make sure school districts have the vital funds needed to create safe, effective teaching and learning environments. That’s why passing Proposition 51 is so critical this November.” Buchanan op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Michael Cohen: Prop 51 is too costly and locks in flawed rules – The director of the California Department of Finance writes, “The state’s school facilities program is fundamentally flawed. It is neither a fair nor efficient way of paying for the construction and renovation of K-12 school buildings. Yet, Proposition 51 would borrow $9 billion and lock in place this flawed program.” Cohen op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Time to cram: California’s 17 ballot propositions explained — Election Day is still weeks away on Nov. 8, but mail-in ballots will soon be finding their way to homes across California. It’s time to study up. There’s a lot on the ballot, not least of all the 17 statewide ballot measures certified by the California Secretary of State’s Office. You’ll be voting on a range of issues, including legalizing marijuana, the death penalty, prescription drug costs, taxes and much more. Capital Public Radio report

PolitiFact CA: What’s in the California bag fee for environmentalists? Opponents: ‘Not one penny’ — The No on 67 campaign claims “Not one penny of the bag ban tax goes to the environment.” A large portion of this is correct: Nothing requires the bag fee revenue be spent directly on environmental causes, as found by the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office. But the claim ignores the indirect benefit the fee could have on the environment. PolitiFact CA article

Two California congresswomen rip state Democratic Party for willingness to attack Loretta Sanchez in Senate race — California Democratic Reps. Janice Hahn of San Pedro and Lucille Roybal-Allard of Downey on Monday ripped into the leadership of the California Democratic Party for being willing to launch a negative campaign against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Loretta Sanchez. LA Times article

California Politics Podcast: Legislative Hangover — Gov. Jerry Brown wraps up work on the bills sent to his desk by legislators as we put the wraps on the two-year session of the California Legislature. We examine some of the final big bill decisions, as well as some of the takeaways about the balance of power in Sacramento. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times and Marisa Lagos of KQED News. California Politics Podcast

Other areas

Shakedown on predatory lawsuit reform inches forward – Another bill championed by a local legislator to address predatory lawsuits was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown just before Friday’s deadline. Assembly Bill 54, by Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank, should help the California Commission on Disability Access provide the Legislature with better reports about lawsuits and demand letters stemming from disabled customers’ access to stores, hotels and other businesses. Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, was the bill’s principal co-author. Modesto Bee article

Will these Southern California Republicans keep their Assembly seats despite Trump? – A few months ago, Democratic hopefuls linked Trump to their Republican opponents throughout the state in ads for congressional campaigns down to county supervisor races. But will the tactic carry them through November and help them win back their former seats? Two Southern California Republican incumbents are about to find out. LA Times article

Civil War painting will be shown at Big Fresno Fair, averting showdown – A Civil War painting that shows a soldier carrying a Confederate flag into battle will be displayed at the Big Fresno Fair, averting a First Amendment showdown this week in U.S. District Court in Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Prosecutors who withhold or tamper with evidence now face felony charges – Amid an ongoing controversy in the Orange County courthouse involving accusations of prosecutorial misconduct, a new law will ratchet up penalties for California prosecutors who tamper with evidence or hide exculpatory material from the defense. LA Times article

State Bar asks CA Supreme Court for bailout — Blocked by lawmakers at the 11th hour and facing a fiscal emergency, the State Bar of California has gone directly to the state Supreme Court seeking authority to levy dues on thousands of attorneys. Capitol Weekly article

Tom Scott and Vince Fong: Small businesses need solutions from Sacramento – Fong, a candidate for the 34th Assembly District seat, and Scott, the National Federation of Independent Business’ state executive director, writes, “A wide range of public policy issues will negatively impact small businesses owners — and it is critical to view them collectively and not just one issue individually. Our small businesses are being crushed by this piling on effect of additional laws and mandates from Sacramento and our unelected state agencies. It is time for our legislature to stop viewing small business as a punching bag.” Scott/Fong op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Presidential Politics

Video purporting anti-Trump violence a hoax, Hanford police say — A video purporting to show a Donald Trump supporter beaten for trying to protect campaign yard signs is a hoax, Hanford police announced Monday afternoon. Instead, police said, investigators have determined that the video that went viral Sunday was a mashup of two incidents – an unknown male beating up a female, and a boy stealing Trump yard signs. Fresno Bee articleHanford Sentinel article

Cathleen Decker: Pennsylvania was once merely important in president elections. Now, it’s Hillary Clinton’s firewall – After more than 20 years as reliably blue in presidential contests, Pennsylvania by dint of other states’ moves is suddenly the Clinton linchpin, the place that could deny Donald Trump the presidency. That puts heavily populated Philadelphia in the hot seat, perhaps the most important target for Clinton in what ranks now as her most important state. Decker in LA Times

Tom Fife: Looking forward to the morning of Nov. 9 — Imagine America on Nov. 9, 2016. What will America look like on the morning after the most transformative, watershed election since Nov. 6, 1860? That was the day Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, was elected president. Lincoln later emancipated the slaves. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

Joe Altschule: Time for kinder, gentler columns — This is getting old. We’ve been here too many times before. It seems to me that Tom is so completely wrapped up in all things Trump that he has lost complete perspective about this election, about who these candidates really are, and most important, what our country is all about and what is going to be best for most of us going forward. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

News Stories – Top Stories

White House budget director to visit Fresno projects – Shaun Donovan, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, will get a firsthand look at revitalization projects in Fresno that the federal government is helping to pay – including the reconstruction of downtown’s Fulton Street – for during a visit to the city on Wednesday. Fresno Bee article

Merced supervisors giving out less in discretionary funds – The five Merced County supervisors have a pool of discretionary funds worth more than half a million dollars after slowing their spending of the special board project money in the 2015-16 fiscal year, records show. Merced Sun-Star article

Disgraced Bakersfield cop gets five years in prison – Disgraced former Bakersfield Police Department detective Damacio Diaz was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Fresno to five years in federal prison — a far more lenient sentence than prosecutors had urged — for a litany of offenses, including drug trafficking, taking bribes and lying on his tax return. Bakersfield Californian articleKVPR report

Jobs and the Economy 

More park service house cleaning: Wife of Yosemite superintendent steps down – Patty Neubacher, the wife of deposed Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher, has announced her own abrupt retirement from a top park service job. As deputy regional director of the National Park Service’s Pacific West Region, Patty Neubacher has had significant responsibilities covering 56 national parks in six states and across the Pacific islands. McClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times article

Fresno County homebuilding permits up in August – The number of Fresno County homebuilding permits issued in August were up compared to the same time a year ago, according to data from the Construction Industry Research Board, a service provided by the California Homebuilding FoundationFresno Bee article

Fresno glass factory now belongs to Mexico-based Vitro – About 130 employees of PPG’s flat-glass manufacturing plant in Fresno now work for Mexican glass company Vitro, following the closure of a $750 million sale on Monday. Fresno Bee article

Louie Kee Market, a west Fresno institution, closing after 93 years – In this day and age of online grocery shopping, self-check out and club stores, Louie Kee Market is an anomaly. It’s the kind of neighborhood grocery where a customer can order just one slice of bologna – if that’s all you want – greet employees who know you by name, or buy cuts of meat you won’t find anywhere else. But by the end of this month, it will all be history. Louie Kee Market, at 1041 Tulare St., will close after 93 years. Fresno Bee article

Central Valley Community Bank concludes Folsom bank acquisition – Fresno’s Central Valley Community Bancorp, the parent company of Central Valley Community Bank, formally completed its acquisition of Sierra Vista Bank on Friday, putting a bow on the deal valued at about $26.3 million in cash and stock. Fresno Bee article

Silicon Valley, East Bay gain wealthy households while middle-income dwindles – In today’s Bay Area, what’s the dividing line between those who can make it and those who can’t? A new study suggests it’s a salary level that elsewhere might seem staggeringly high: $150,000 a year. Silicon Valley and the East Bay are gaining upper-crust households, while middle- and low-income households are dwindling — indicating the region’s income gap is growing wider. San Jose Mercury News article

Voters defeated Metro’s ambitious plan to raise money in 2012, and they might do it again — Four years ago, a ballot measure to expand mass transit across Los Angeles County failed by less than 1 percentage point, a slim defeat attributed to voters in a chain of small, coastal cities outside the region’s core. A similar dynamic has emerged this year in the southern part of the county, where leaders are opposing the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s most ambitious plan yet to expand and upgrade transportation options across Southern California. LA Times article

New state retirement law could help childcare workers save — California’s child care workers are among the estimated 7 million workers in the state who can benefit from a new law that will allow them to save money in a state-run retirement plan. KPCC report


Aubrey Bettencourt: Farms and cities need groundwater to survive – The executive director of the California Water Alliance writes, “There is a water grab, but it’s not by municipal users and agriculture. It’s by the state bureaucracy, Legislature and governor. Control the water, and you control the economy of the state and every person in it.” Bettencourt op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Stockton police body cameras to be upgraded – The Stockton Police Department plans to roll out the next generation of body cameras within a few weeks, hoping to add technology that allow cameras to capture 30 seconds of video even before they’re activated. Stockton Record article

Tulare County gets $1.4 million grant to combat human trafficking — A $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice will fund two full-time law enforcement officers to investigate human trafficking, Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward said Monday. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Rosary for Melanie: Service for toddler calls for end to violence – Family and friends said a final farewell to Melanie Martinez, the happy 3-year-old girl who loved to dance and sing, on Monday during a solemn funeral mass at St. Mary’s Church in downtown Stockton. Stockton Record article

Officers’ contrasting approaches to Joseph Mann create legal challenge – When the first Sacramento police officers answered a 911 call for an armed mentally ill man in July, they remained calm and attempted to de-escalate the unfolding situation in North Sacramento. Their reserved approach contrasts starkly with two officers who arrived four minutes later and attempted to run over the suspect before chasing him on foot and shooting him 14 times, based on a Sacramento Bee review of separate dashcam videos. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: What else doesn’t Sacramento know about police? – The police shooting of Joseph Mann is fraught with questions, only some of which have been answered by the horrifying dash-cam footage released, after much stalling, by the Sacramento Police Department last week. Sacramento Bee editorial

Erika D. Smith: Joseph Mann case didn’t have to go this way – Setting aside for a moment whether officers did or did not have to kill Mann (they didn’t), the Sacramento Police Department could have – and should have – been a lot more forthcoming to other city officials and the public about what happened. Smith column in Sacramento Bee

Marcos Breton: Yuba County judge tosses out $4 million defamation suit against sexual assault victim – A registered sex offender serving a one-year jail sentence will not get to sue his victim for $4 million. Perhaps now a woman who pursued a rape case for four years will have some peace and closure.  Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Veterans court program gets graduates ‘back on track’ – Monday’s class was the second to graduate from Veterans Treatment Court. A goal of the court is to provide an alternative to the criminal justice system for veterans charged with certain criminal offenses. The program is a combination of judicial supervision and appropriate treatment and support. Stockton Record article

‘These officers were completely out of line,’ family says of Sacramento police shooting — The family of a mentally ill man shot dead by two officers who tried to run him down with their car said Monday they will seek a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the Sacramento Police Department, as well as push for murder charges against the officers. Sacramento Bee article

Anger is simmering after two fatal police shootings in South LA; LAPD chief says officers feared for their lives — In a time of heightened scrutiny over how officers use force, particularly against African Americans, police are finding a gulf between what many officers consider a justified shooting and the views of some protesters and residents. LA Times article


The evolution of California’s ‘College Promise,’ as told through 4 students – Does higher education in California still unlock economic opportunities for young people? I explored that question by looking at the cost of a college degree through the lives of four students at very different points in California’s history. KQED report

Gender-neutral bathrooms among laws with impact on schools – A gender-neutral bathroom law, Assembly Bill 1732, was one of many measures with an effect on education that Gov. Jerry Brown signed during the legislative session that ended Friday. LA Times article

Dolores Huerta Foundation protests impending Kern High School District gun vote – Members of the Dolores Huerta Foundation Monday protested an impending decision by the Kern High School District board of trustees that would allow employees to carry guns on campus. Bakersfield Californian article

Attorney alleges Fresno Unified trustee wrongly changed his vote out of public eye – An attorney is alleging that Fresno Unified school board member Brooke Ashjian wrongly changed a vote after a public meeting in order to protect himself from a potential legal threat. But Ashjian – a longtime critic of Superintendent Michael Hanson – says the allegations are just the latest in a smear campaign against him orchestrated by district leaders. Fresno Bee article

State could lose federal funds if rules for child care eligibility don’t change – California risks losing more than $500 million in federal funds if it doesn’t establish new rules within a year governing eligibility for state-subsidized childcare and after-school programs. At least three attempts to accomplish that have died in the Legislature since 2014. EdSource article

Woman reports rape at Stanford on day Gov. Brown signed law inspired by Brock Turner case – A woman was reported to have been raped in a dormitory at Stanford University on Friday, the same day Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law spurred by the Brock Turner case that would toughen sentences for sex assault convictions. LA Times articleSan Jose Mercury News article


Sonora summit will explore how to deal with dead timber — A summit Friday in Sonora will deal with the millions of Sierra Nevada trees killed by drought and bark beetles in recent years. The organizer of the free event, the Tuolumne County Alliance for Resources and Environment, urges increased logging to remove the dead timber and make the remaining trees more healthy. Modesto Bee article

Unusual earthquake warning prompts action, anxiety in Southern California — Southern Californians learn to live with the risk of earthquakes. But over the last week, anxieties were particularly heightened, and the natural denial that is part of living in earthquake country was harder to pull off. A swarm of seismic activity at the Salton Sea that began a week ago prompted scientists to say there was an elevated risk for a big San Andreas fault earthquake. By Monday, that risk had lessened.  LA Times article

Endangered California frog rebounding in Yosemite — A native California frog once on the brink of extinction is making an encouraging comeback in Yosemite National Park, raising hopes for amphibians like it worldwide that are dying off at an alarming rate, researchers said Monday. AP article

Health/Human Services 

San Joaquin General no longer receiving trauma patients – Major trauma patients no longer are being transported to San Joaquin General Hospital for treatment. Stockton Record article

At California psychiatric hospitals, epidemic of patients’ assaults on staff goes untreated – Most patients who assault staff, according to Seager and other staff members, remain on the wards.  After all, many came to California’s state psychiatric facilities because they committed violent crimes.  KQED report

The care you get from your doctor may depend on his or her political views – new study from researchers at Yale University details significant differences in the way primary care physicians from across the political spectrum approach medical issues that touch on hot-button topics, such as abortion and gun control. LA Times article

What’s ALD? A new genetic test will identify California newborns with debilitating disease — It’s a tiny prick in a newborn’s heel, but it could be life-changing. Starting last month, a rare but devastating genetic disease is now part of the routine blood screening given to all California babies shortly after birth. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Clovis residents reaffirm concerns about mental health facility — About a half-dozen people spoke at the Clovis City Council meeting on Monday night to reiterate their opposition to the placement of a behavioral health hospital near Clovis and Alluvial avenues. Fresno Bee article


Sacramento light rail announces arena partnership with Uber, Lyft, Yellow Cab — RT, which plans to extend light-rail service later on arena event nights, announced an agreement Monday with three ride-sharing companies, Uber, Lyft and Yellow Cab, for up to $5 off rides for people who use one of those services to go to or from six selected light-rail stations on event nights this year. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Clovis city manager says he will retire at end of the year — Robert Woolley, Clovis’ city manager for the past six years, is retiring after three decades working for the city. Woolley, 63, announced his retirement Monday. His final day will be Dec. 30, he said. Fresno Bee article

Vicky Thrasher: Critters offers 35,000 reasons to say ‘thank you’ – The executive director of Critters Without Litters writes, “Every time you have chosen to step through our doors you become the solution to our pet overpopulation issue. You are the change we wish to see in our community. You should applaud the efforts that you, your friends, and neighbors are making on behalf of reducing euthanasia rates in Kern County. Without you, the positive changes we are seeing would not be possible.” Thrasher op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Shriver, Takei, Gwynn, Tower Records founder Russ Solomon selected for California Hall of Fame — Tower Records may have long since shuttered in Sacramento, but the beloved music chain that got its start in the capital is set to go down in California history. Founder Russ Solomon, who started what would eventually become an international franchise out of the back of his father’s drugstore on Broadway in 1941, is among the 10th class of inductees to the California Hall of Fame, Gov. Jerry Brown, first lady Anne Gust Brown and the California Museum jointly announced Monday. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – It’s hard to imagine a more poorly conceived and written ballot measure than Proposition 57, which would amend the California Constitution so that so-called “nonviolent” felons could more easily parole out of prison and return to society.

Merced Sun-Star – Donald Trump’s tax returns go to the core of his candidacy and to the heart of the issue of economic fairness. He needs to make them public.

Modesto Bee – Donald Trump’s tax returns go to the core of his candidacy and to the heart of the issue of economic fairness. He needs to make them public.

Sacramento Bee – The police shooting of Joseph Mann is fraught with questions, only some of which have been answered by the horrifying dash-cam footage released, after much stalling, by the Sacramento Police Department last week; Donald Trump’s tax returns go to the core of his candidacy and to the heart of the issue of economic fairness. He needs to make them public.

Stockton Record – Cheer and jeers: Pain caused by arson, developing business in downtown Stockton and other issues.