October 6, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Brown collecting millions to promote 2 pet projects on November ballot – Gov. Jerry Brown is collecting millions of dollars from special interests to help him promote two pet projects on the November ballot: a water bond measure and a state rainy-day fund. He has raised more than $6.2 million in less than three weeks in favor of the measures, Propositions 1 and 2, the centerpieces of his otherwise sleepy reelection bid.  LA Times article

SD14: Andy Vidak challenged by Fresno Unified trustee Luis Chavez – In four years, Andy Vidak has gone from unknown cherry farmer to state senator. Now, the Hanford Republican is a central player in his party’s efforts to rebuild and stay relevant in state politics. Challenging Vidak is Democrat Luis Chavez, a Fresno Unified School District trustee and Fresno City Council Member Sal Quintero’s chief of staff.  Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown

George Skelton: Where does Jerry Brown stand on ethics reform? – One thumb up for Gov. Jerry Brown. And the other thumb down. The governor signed a bill inserting a smidgen of sense in California’s oft-abused ballot initiative system. Excellent. But he vetoed legislation imposing sensible ethics rules on Capitol politicians. What was he thinking?  Skelton column in LA Times

Valley politics

Five seek two seats on Turlock council – Two incumbents on the City Council note progress on jobs, budgets and other issues. Three challengers say they have fresh ideas that could advance the city more.  Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Neel Kashkari relentlessly upbeat about chances in governor’s race – That confidence, bordering on cockiness, has been a hallmark not only of Kashkari’s longshot bid to deny Brown a record fourth term in office, but also of a career that made him the country’s best-known banker at the age of 35, putting his picture on the front page of the New York Times and his name on People magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” list in 2008.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Insurance commissioner race pits two starkly different candidates – On election day, Nov. 4, voters will choose between two starkly different candidates for the powerful post: incumbent Democrat Dave Jones, elected in 2010, and a Republican challenger, state Sen. Ted Gaines.  LA Times article

Reality check: Prop 45 ad only partially true – Proposition 45 would allow California’s elected insurance commissioner to regulate health plan rates for 6 million Californians with individual policies or who get their insurance as employees of small businesses. The commissioner already has the power to reject proposed rate hikes for auto and homeowners insurance. The Yes on 45 campaign last week released its first television ad, now running in major media markets.  San Jose Mercury News article

Ad Watch: Commercial backing Prop 46 leaves out costs – The Nov. 4 ballot initiative would more than quadruple the state’s $250,000 cap on medical malpractice awards, mandate random drug and alcohol testing of doctors, and require physicians and pharmacists to consult a statewide drug-history database before prescribing or dispensing certain drugs for the first time. Here is the text of the ad, followed by analysis from Christopher Cadelago of The Bee Capitol Bureau.  Sacramento Bee article

Election officials prepare to send out mail ballots for Nov. 4 vote – Election officials across California begin sending out mail ballots Monday, kicking into high gear the Nov. 4 contests for state, congressional and some local offices. Registered voters have until Oct. 28 to request a mail ballot through their county registrar’s office.  LA Times article

Other areas

Dan Walters: Six-state measure would have given regional governments a boost – Draper’s regional governance provision is why, one suspects, his measure drew such vehement opposition from unions and other liberal groups, which have benefited from an ever-more-powerful state government dominated by friendly Democrats. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

Fresno County’s medical marijuana growing ban upheld again – Fresno County has successfully defended its ordinance banning medical marijuana cultivation for the second time, recently earning a dismissal of a suit that sought legal cultivation of medical marijuana.  Fresno Bee article

In virtual mega-drought, California avoids defeat – A few years ago a group of researchers used computer modeling to put California through a nightmare scenario: Seven decades of unrelenting mega-drought similar to those that dried out the state in past millennia. “The results were surprising,” said Jay Lund, one of the academics who conducted the study.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Pensions still a puzzle in Stockton bankruptcy – A federal judge ruled last week that Stockton’s CalPERS pensions can be cut in bankruptcy. But Stockton does not want to cut pensions, and the lone holdout creditor says it can be paid without cutting pensions.  Calpensions article

New printing facility opens in Fresno – A Nashville-based publishing industry company has opened its first California print and distribution facility at the North Pointe Business Park in southwest Fresno.  Fresno Bee article

Report: Hewlett-Packard to split in 2 companies – Hewlett-Packard Co., the iconic maker of personal computers and printers, reportedly plans to split itself into two separate companies by spinning off its technology services business.  AP articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

City gas stations dwindle in real estate boom – San Francisco’s neighborhood gas stations used to service cars, but now they are fueling the city’s housing boom.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Is there a bond market ‘bubble’ ready to burst? – A bottleneck is building in the global market for bonds. Main Street investors have poured a trillion dollars into bonds since the financial crisis, and helped send prices soaring. As fund managers and regulators fret about an inevitable sell-off, the bigger fear is that when people go to unload, there won’t be anyone to buy.  AP article


Bone-dry wells create havoc in Tulare County – Roger Alter has lately spent a lot of time talking about water. First there was the time he spent with a neighbor trying to find a company to drill deeper wells for their homes east of Visalia, as their residential wells were going dry.  Visalia Times-Delta article

California drought worries pool industry – California swimming pool companies just regaining their financial footing after the recession are now facing a new challenge: a devastating drought that has put the state’s ubiquitous backyard pools under the microscope.  AP article

Subsurface water intakes feasible for desalination plant, study finds – A study regarding a controversial proposed desalination plant in Huntington Beach determined that subsurface intakes are technically feasible for the project.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Linda Penner: Dan Walters misstates stats change – The chair of the California Board of State and Community Corrections writes, “In the column, Dan Walters mischaracterizes the Board of State and Community Corrections’ legislatively mandated work to define the term “recidivism.” The purpose of the definition is to recommend a standard measure to encourage statewide consistency when recidivism rates are reported, something that has been absent in the past.” Penner in Modesto Bee

On Duty with the CHP: California Highway Patrol recruiting for its academy – Are you, or someone you know, looking for a job? The CHP is looking for highly motivated individuals who are ready to serve. We accept applications in hiring cycles that take place several times a year. In this column, I will highlight some of the requirements for CHP applicants, what you can expect as a cadet at our academy and what it means to be a CHP officer.  On Duty column in Fresno Bee


California, other states to set test cutoff scores – During the next few weeks California educators will play a pivotal role in a crucial phase of work for the new Smarter Balanced assessments that millions of California students will take this spring for the first time: setting the cutoff scores that will indicate whether a student is academically on track for the next grade level and ultimately whether they are ready for college and careers.  EdSource article

Engage New York math program adds up for kids; parents see some negatives – “OK. Ready to beat yourselves? Ready. Set. Start your engines!” And with that, 34 fourth-graders, grinning ear to ear, dived into math drills. The “sprints” push kids to finish more problems correctly, using plain old practice to improve their times, explained Shackelford Elementary School teacher Kathy Presley. It was one of dozens of strategies Presley uses tied to Engage New York math, the free, Common Core-aligned program used by Modesto City Schools, Turlock Unified and many other districts in the region.  Modesto Bee article

Merced Matters: Professor helps build better businesses – A Merced College program that helps business owners and their employees get more out of their jobs has spread to scores of community colleges across the state since its creation 15 years ago this month.  Merced Sun-Star article

Health/Human Services

Poll: Majority of Californians support health coverage for undocumented immigrants – A majority of the state’s voters support extending current health insurance programs to all low-income Californians, including undocumented immigrants, according to a new statewide poll released Monday.  KQED report

Land Use/Housing

Visalia could vote on General Plan update – After delaying a vote last month on whether to approve a General Plan update, the Visalia City Council could finally vote on it Monday night.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Tulare supervisors to decide topless club’s fate – Tulare County Supervisors could decide on Tuesday the fate of Tulare County’s only topless bar. Saints & Sinners Gentlemen’s Club, south of Lindsay, actually has been closed since January, after the owner encountered difficulty renewing her adult-oriented business license.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Dan Walters Daily: Bay Bridge failures cast doubt on high-speed rail – After the disastrous construction of the new Bay Bridge, Dan wonders whether California is capable of undertaking major infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail and the Delta water tunnels.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Concerned about safety, California to inspect railroad bridges for first time –  Concerned about the growing number of trains traversing the state filled with crude oil and other hazardous materials, the California Public Utilities Commission is launching its first railroad bridge inspection program this fall. Federal officials say it will be the first state-run review of privately owned rail bridges in the country.  Sacramento Bee article

Merced airport OK for another year – The Merced Airport has been spared for one year from being removed from the Essential Air Service program, which would have been a major blow to area business people, according to city leaders.  Merced Sun-Star article

Bee Investigator:  Modesto tries to fix $57,000 Briggsmore Avenue ‘mistake’ – Modesto resident C.D. Wilkinson wrote a letter to the editor that ran last week about the construction project near his home. He noticed that a cement barrier, recently installed as a safety buffer between motorists and bicyclists, was being removed weeks later.Those barriers, it turns out, were a $57,000 mistake.  Modesto Bee article

Other Areas

Merced council to discuss high-speed rail, ballot measure flyer – California high-speed rail and an educational effort related to the city’s district ballot measure will be on the agenda for the Merced City Council on Monday. The council will look at contributing $200,000 in matching funds toward the 2013 High-Speed Rail Planning Grant, which will begin plans for the stop near downtown Merced.  Merced Sun-Star article

Volunteers help people negotiate small claims process – Small claims court is designed to allow people to take cases to court quickly and inexpensively without having to hire an attorney. The limit someone can sue for ranges up to $10,000, depending on various factors. But as much as it’s supposed to be an easy process, parties can find themselves lost in a quagmire of details and paperwork, said Diane Von Der Ahe, a law school graduate who volunteers in the San Joaquin County Bar Foundation’s small claims program funded by the Superior Court.  Stockton Record article

City Beat: Sacramento must take the tomato back – Michael Amabile said something this week that should make every self-respecting Sacramentan cringe. “Right now,” he proclaimed, “Los Banos is the tomato capital of the United States.” Huh?  Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – A judge’s potentially groundbreaking ruling in the Stockton bankruptcy case should send a clear message.

Merced Sun-Star – Controller candidate Ashley Swearengin shows the independent streak we need.

Modesto Bee – Controller candidate Ashley Swearengin shows the independent streak we need.

Sacramento Bee – For Sacramento schools, the right foursome is Jessie Ryan and three incumbents.