October 8, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Jerry Brown airing TV ads for water bond, budget reserve – With a massive campaign war chest and less than a month before Election Day, Gov. Jerry Brown will start airing television ads Wednesday for a pair of ballot initiatives on the November ballot, his campaign said. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

CD21: Renteria squares off with Valadao in CSU Bakersfield debate – Congressman David Valadao, R-Hanford and Democratic challenger Amanda Renteria crossed swords Tuesday night over health care, immigration, water and funding for higher education.  Bakersfield Californian article

Gov. Brown

Carefree Jerry Brown vetoes freely, ruffling some fellow Democrats – Gov. Jerry Brown’s recent bill signings and vetoes were the work of a political leader who didn’t have to worry about politics. He signed what he thought should become law and vetoed what he thought was over-regulation or unworthy.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley politics

CD21: Biden urges support for Dems: ‘Don’t let them down.  Don’t let yourself down’ – Vice President Joe Biden delivered an economics lesson to a near-capacity crowd at Cal State Bakersfield’s Icardo Center Tuesday, urging everyone to get behind congressional candidate Amanda Renteria and Secretary of State hopeful Alex Padilla. Bakersfield Californian articleFresno Bee articleRobert Price column in Bakersfield CalifornianKVPR report

Republican and Democratic voter shifts continue in Stanislaus – Stanislaus County voters are consistently inconsistent when it comes to political-party preference. The battle between Republicans and Democrats for registration dominance has flipped three times over the past dozen years, and Stanislaus voters increasingly prefer no party at all.  Modesto Bee article

Bakersfield council election profile:  Dhindsa could be first Indian council candidate – A produce buyer who travels the Central Valley buying fruit for the international market, Harmeet Dhindsa could be the first member of Bakersfield’s Indian community to seek City Council office. He’s one of three candidates for Ward 7 in the south who hope to replace incumbent Russell Johnson.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton Record: Winn best choice for San Joaquin County supervisor – Chuck Winn has a significant advantage in terms of governmental experience and a good grasp of how to solve issues. He’s the best choice for the post.  Stockton Record editorial

Tulare council Area 2 race draws three candidates – The first race for the Tulare City Council Area 2 seat has drawn three candidates: A veteran in local political races; a relative newcomer to the area with military service experience, and an insurance agent seeking her initial public office.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Fresno Bee:  Darden, Davis and Ashjian for Fresno Unified’s board of trustees – On Nov. 4, vote for Debbie Darden in District 1, Valerie Davis in District 3 and Brooke Ashjian in District 7 on the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees.  Fresno Bee editorial

Local races pick up as Bowzer lends support – The Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee has endorsed incumbents in seven Bakersfield City Council, state senate and assembly races.  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno County supervisors name new election date for retirement board – Fresno County supervisors Tuesday nullified an election to the Fresno County Employees’ Retirement Association board due to a mistake by their elections staff, and set a date for a new balloting.  Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Voters to decide fate of $7.5 million water bond – On November 4th, California voters will decide the fate of a $7.5 billion bond intended to improve the state’s water system. Proposition 1 is one of the most closely watched measures on the ballot. Proponents of the bond say it would provide safe and reliable water, opponents say it wrongly focuses on building more dams.  Capital Public Radio report

Democrats keep cash lead in races for financial posts – Betty Yee, the Democratic candidate for controller, has more than double the amount of campaign funds available compared to her Republican rival, according to new documents filed with the state. Yee, a member of the Board of Equalization, has nearly $500,000 in the bank. Ashley Swearengin, the Republican mayor of Fresno, has $215,000. LA Times article

Criminal sentencing initiative draws well-heeled supporters – The push by progressive foundations and a conservative evangelist to recast some of California’s most common crimes as misdemeanors is drawing major financial support from the state’s well-heeled activists. LA Times article

Challenger Tuck outraises incumbent Torlakson in state schools chief race – Challenger Marshall Tuck has outraised incumbent Tom Torlakson heading into the final stretch of the ideologically charged race for state superintendent of public instruction, though the tight battle could be decided by a late splurge of outside money.  Capitol Alert

Opponents of medical malpractice initiative hold money advantage – Opponents of a ballot measure that would raise the limit on certain medical malpractice damages have far outpaced the initiative’s supporters in fundraising and spending, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday night. The “no” campaign on Proposition 46 brought in $20.6 million between July 1 and Sept. 30 of this year, mostly from doctors and insurance companies. Proponents, meanwhile, raised $3.2 million, primarily from attorneys. LA Times article

Opponents hold financial edge battle over tribal casino ballot initiative – A satewide ballot measure for a off-reservation tribal casino in the Central Valley town of Madera faces stiff opposition for competing gaming tribes, who have far outraised supporters.  LA Times article

Money race heats up in key Assembly contests – Vulnerable Assembly Democrats are locked in tight fundraising races with their GOP challengers, according to campaign finance reports filed Monday. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Dave Jones best choice for insurance commissioner – Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has shown himself to be an aggressive regulator and has earned a second four-year term.  Sacramento Bee editorial

State Sen. Lois Wolk: Prop 1 is a balanced investment in water infrastructure – The Davis Democrat writes, “Californians have a historic opportunity on Election Day, just as they did more than 50 years ago, to make wise investments in our water infrastructure.” Wolk op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla and Steven Evans: Prop 1 is a bad deal that will burden taxpayers – Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta, and Evans, a consultant for Friends of the River, write, ‘Vote “no’ on Proposition 1. Demand a water bond that invests in the sustainable solutions we need, not deadbeat dams.”  Barrigan-Parrilla/Evans op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Joel Fox: California redistricting commission in jeopardy at U.S. Supreme Court – The key question the United States Supreme Court must address in deciding if state voters can create redistricting commissions for congressional districts is whether the people can be considered legislators when they create laws through the initiative process. It goes to the heart of the initiative power, which voters in both California and Arizona used to create citizens redistricting commissions.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Dan Morain: Newsom has no excuse for avoiding debate – Newsom, who aspires to play to younger voters, could burnish his reputation as an oracle of the millennials by engaging Nehring in debates on topics relevant to students – such as, say, student debt.  Morain in Sacramento Bee


LA County votes to keep ICE presence in jails – The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to extend a controversial partnership with federal immigration authorities designed to target potentially deportable immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes.  LA Times article

Teens’ life-and-death struggle for asylum in America – While other kids enjoyed summer break, a teenager with more on her mind slipped into her only dressy jacket and traveled south to Anaheim, to a nondescript building housing the local office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  KQED report

Other areas

Gay marriage bans struck down in Western states – A federal appeals court Tuesday struck down gay marriage bans across the West, bringing to 35 the number of states where same-sex couples can marry. The decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals specifically strikes down same-sex-marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada, but it applies to all of the circuit court’s states and overturns similar prohibitions in Alaska, Arizona and Montana.  LA Times article

Dan Walters: Pomposity takes hold among legislative leaders – In California’s Capitol, one might call it “pomposity-creep” – a recent, albeit insidious, tendency of legislators who are elevated into leadership positions to toot their own horns with increasingly elaborate ceremonial rituals.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

How a soda tax fight in San Francisco explains California politics – As befits California, the city and county of San Francisco (the same political entity) has 24 candidates, six state measures, and 12 local initiatives on the ballot this November. One of the most heavily funded — also as befits California — is Proposition E, a proposed “Tax on Sugar-Sweetened Beverages.” It’s a fight that’s not shaping up to be much of a fight, and therefore provides a nicely packaged look at how politics in California can work.  Washington Post article

Sacramento strong mayor campaign raises large donations – The campaign pushing stronger powers for the Sacramento mayor is a deep-pocketed effort. Sacramento Tomorrow, the committee behind Measure L on the November ballot, has raised $498,674, according to the most recent campaign finance documents filed with the City Clerk’s office.  Sacramento Bee article

Twitter sues U.S. government over surveillance disclosure rules – The San Francisco microblogging site filed suit against the Department of Justice and the FBI on Tuesday, saying it was being “unconstitutionally restricted by statutes that prohibit and even criminalize” the public disclosure of such requests.  LA Times articleAP article

Point/Counterpoint: President Obama – Tom Fife and Joe Altschule take opposing views of President Obama on the pages of the Visalia Times-Delta. Point/Counterpoint in Visalia Times-Delta

News Briefs

Top Stories

California water use drop 11.5 percent in August – State officials on Tuesday reported the largest monthly decline in water use this year as the severity of California’s drought hits home, with community wells running dry, farm fields turning to dust and key reservoirs at a fraction of their capacity.  AP articleLA Times articleStockton Record article

California’s air tanker fleet grounded after deadly Yosemite crash – All of California’s 22 S-2T air tankers have been grounded after one of the aircraft crashed while fighting a wildfire in Yosemite National Park, killing the sole pilot.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Bakersfield home market strengthens slightly –  Bakersfield’s single-family home market managed a modest price gain last month despite a seasonal slowdown in sales activity, according to a preliminary update by local appraiser Gary Crabtree. Although the number of homes sold in September fell to 461, one-fifth less than August’s total, the median sale price edged up 1.4 percent to $215,750, or 11.5 percent greater than September 2013′s mark, Crabtree reported.  Bakersfield Californian article

Home sales and prices poised to slow down in 2015 – The California housing market is in for a slowdown next year. Home sales will rise modestly in 2015 and prices are expected to flatten out marking the slowest price gain in four years, said Leslie Appleton-Young, vice president and chief economist for the California Association of RealtorsFresno Bee article

Stockton, Ports agree to new ballpark deal – Though the city’s bankruptcy angst will continue for at least a few more weeks, one side issue in Stockton’s ongoing Chapter 9 recovery has been resolved. After months of negotiations, the city and the Stockton Ports have agreed to amend the minor-league baseball team’s contract to play at Stockton Ballpark. Stockton officials say the changes will reduce the city’s current $400,000 annual subsidy to the team by about $112,500.  Stockton Record article

Soda industry spends $7.7 million to defeat San Francisco sugar tax – so far – The American Beverage Industry has spent $7.7 million to try to defeat Proposition E, a measure to tax sodas and other sugary beverages, on San Francisco’s Nov. 4 ballot. The figure is believed to be the second highest amount ever spent on a San Francisco ballot measure — behind PG&E’s nearly $10 million to successfully defeat a public power measure in 2008. But considering there’s nearly a month left until election day, the spending by the soda industry could become the all-time record holder.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Minimum wage proposal seeks to put LA on path to $15 per hour – A proposal that could increase Los Angeles’ minimum wage to $15.25 per hour by 2019 was introduced Tuesday by members of the city council just as Vice President Joe Biden and Mayor Eric Garcetti met to discuss the wage issue at an event in Lincoln Heights. KPCC reportLA Times article

Biden backs Garcetti plan to boost minimum wage to $13.25 by 2017 – Vice President Joe Biden joined Los Angeles politicians Tuesday to throw his support behind Mayor Eric Garcetti’s plan to raise the minimum wage.  LA Times article

Sacramento City Council approves financing plan for K Street development – One of the most blighted stretches of downtown Sacramento received a long-awaited boost on Tuesday night, when the City Council approved a complex financing plan for a major development in the 700 block of K Street.  Sacramento Bee article

Rents in Southern California will climb faster in next two years, study says – Renters, get ready to pay a little more. The cost of the average apartment in the Southland is projected to grow more than 8% over the next two years, according to a report out Tuesday.  LA Times article

Coldwell Banker: Burlingame is capital of the $1 million home – Coldwell Banker is out with a couple of new reports on luxury home-buying that could a) make a lot of us feel excluded from a really swell party, b) open some eyes about the sheer volume of cash being spent on high-end homes and c) open even more eyes about who’s buying the homes.  KQED report

In 2015, LA County is forecast to regain jobs lost during recession – Los Angeles County will finally regain the number of jobs it lost during the Great Recession next year, with Orange County and the Inland Empire expected to follow soon after, a new study projects.  LA Times article

San Francisco supervisors back ‘Airbnb law’ to allow short-term rentals, with limits – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to legalize the growing trend of turning homes into ad-hoc hotels by passing the “Airbnb law,” which places some restrictions on the controversial practice.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Some Bay Area water users save big – As California braces for a rainy season that may again be a bust, residents are becoming increasingly mindful about water conservation, particularly in the northern half of the state.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Is building a reservoir within a reservoir the answer to California’s long-term water crisis – It’s been one of the worst dry spells in recorded history in California and some rain would be nice. One possible answer to the state’s water woes could come as soon as November, when a new water bond goes before voters. To answer the state’s future water woes a water bond is on the November ballot which if passed could create new reservoirs.  FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports from Fresno County where planners are already studying the site for what could be the state’s newest water storage facility.  KVPR report

Modesto Bee: Moratorium is needed on Stanislaus County well permits – In light of the Siskiyou decision, the new groundwater law and the many dry wells, it is apparent we need some form of a moratorium. Next, let’s put a moratorium on delays.  Modesto Bee editorial

Corcoran going deeper in search of water – First it was Avenal on the verge of going dry. Now Corcoran leaders have decided they’ll be in the same situation of they don’t drill a big new well expected to cost $2.5 million.  Hanford Sentinel article


Education groups won’t back rainy day fund – Gov. Jerry Brown won’t have key education groups helping him make the case to voters for a bigger and more restrictive state rainy day fund. The most he can count on is that they won’t actively campaign against it.  EdSource article

Stockton Unified police among agencies receiving surplus military gear – The Stockton Unified School District is among several public school police agencies in California that received surplus military equipment as part of the federal government’s 1033 Excess Property Program.  Stockton Record article

Crime falls at Sacramento State in 2013 – Crime on the Sacramento State University campus declined last year, according to information reported under the federal Clery Act. The campus reported one sex offense, compared to three in 2012 and two in 2011. The assault took place at a residential facility on campus, according to the report. Sacramento Bee article

State Center trustee to be investigated for alleged misconduct – State Center Community College District’s board voted Tuesday to investigate whether Trustee Eric Payne engaged in misconduct, including allegations that he interfered in employee hiring. Payne, one of two African-American trustees, angrily called the allegations a racially motivated witch hunt.  Fresno Bee article

Bilingualism to be discussed at UC Merced conference – UC Merced will host a two-day conference on bilingualism designed to address several issues, including the benefits of speaking two languages and the challenges of bilingual communication.  Merced Sun-Star article

FPPC proposes $200 fine for former State Center Chancellor Blue – The state’s political watchdog agency has proposed a $200 fine for Deborah Blue, chancellor emeritus of State Center Community College District, saying she didn’t timely file her 2013 Statement of Economic Interests.  Fresno Bee article

FPPC penalizes Merced school leaders for not disclosing free meals – Three superintendents of Merced school districts and two trustees have been assessed fines of $200 to $600 related to free meals from a bond underwriter that they failed to report from 2010 to 2013.  Merced Sun-Star article


Air turns corrosive in October heat wave – Record heat and stagnant conditions have turned the San Joaquin Valley into a bowl of dirty air. Valley air authorities are urging residents to drive less, avoid letting vehicles idle at drive-up windows and put off yard work that involves gasoline-powered equipment. In other words, pretend it’s late August instead of early October.  Fresno Bee article

Air tanker crashes fighting Yosemite National Park fire – A Cal Fire air tanker battling a 150-acre fire at the edge of Yosemite National Park crashed Tuesday, killing the pilot as stunned residents and park employees in El Portal watched.  Fresno Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleMerced Sun-Star article;AP articleKVPR report

Oxy settles charges it illegally dumped waste – Two local oil producers owned by Occidental Petroleum Corp. have agreed to pay $476,784 to settle charges they improperly disposed of 57,000 gallons of fluid waste into unlined pits in the Central Valley between early 2012 and Nov. 15 of last year.  Bakersfield Californian article

E-mails show CPUC president cutting deals, critics say – Newly released Pacific Gas and Electric Co. e-mails show that the head of the California Public Utilities Commission was willing to trade utility customers’ dollars for the company’s backing for his favored causes, a ratepayer advocacy group said Tuesday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

State parks team with Google to attract a new generation of visitors – Three months ago, a group of Google contractors began walking the trails of California parks wearing electronic equipment that jutted above their heads and sprouted cameras from metal globes.  LA Times article

Stockton Port Commissioners approve dredging job – Port officials Monday approved spending up to $1.9 million on their annual dredging program, this year deepening five ship berths along the Rough and Ready Island waterfront to the full depth of 35 feet.  Stockton Record article

Neighborhood hopes to stay out of flood zone – At 84 years old, Richard Gacer might be one of the Country Club neighborhood’s longest-tenured residents. Perhaps that’s why he also among the most concerned. Gacer has organized a neighborhood group, “Save Country Club,” in response to the designation of much of that area as a high-risk flood zone — a designation that brings with it mandatory flood insurance for many property owners, as well as building restrictions and the threat of plunging property values.  Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services

Second Obamacare enrollment likely to be even tougher than first – The second round of enrollment under the nation’s Affordable Care Act promises to be tougher than the first. Many of those eager to get covered already did, including those with health conditions that had prevented them from getting insurance in the past. About 30 million to 40 million people remain uninsured in the United States, according to various surveys.  KQED report

Walmart to end healthcare coverage for 30,000 part-timers – Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is cutting healthcare benefits for roughly 30,000 part-time employees, citing rising costs. Wal-Mart said Tuesday that it will end coverage for employees who work fewer than 30 hours a week. The decision affects 2% of the retailer’s U.S. workforce of 1.4 million.  LA Times article

Steinberg to launch mental health foundation – Outgoing Senate leader Darrell Steinberg said Tuesday that after he leaves the Legislature at the end of next month he will form a foundation to work on mental-health policy issues, an area that has long been a priority for the Sacramento Democrat.  Capitol Alert

Children’s Hospital remodeling for speech, hearing services – Children’s Hospital Central California is filling out its campus north of Fresno with space for its speech therapy and audiology services currently offered at a building on Fresno Street.  The Business Journal article

Flight attendants call for tougher Ebola screening – One day after the Obama administration said it was developing new Ebola screening procedures for airports, a flight attendants union said existing measures do not go far enough to protect passengers and crew.  LA Times article

Merced supervisors spar over changes to health alliance appointment – Merced County’s representation on the Central California Alliance for Health, a nonprofit health plan serving Medi-Cal members, was a hot-button issue during a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday.  Merced Sun-Star article


Jeff Morales: Here’s the real high-speed rail plan – The CEO of the California High- Speed Rail Authority writes, “High-speed rail is a transformative investment that will connect economies, advance sustainable growth, and create jobs and opportunity. This is the vision for high-speed rail.” Morales op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Other Areas

Chukchansi Gold Casino faces federal closure order, huge fines for missing audits – The federal agency that oversees Indian gaming is threatening to shut down the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino because of missing audits, some of which were due last year.  Fresno Bee article

Modesto mayor wants names of city manager finalists to be released – Mayor Garrad Marsh said he would like Modesto to release the names of the finalists for city manager well before the City Council picks one for the job.  Modesto Bee article

Central California SPCA wins $100,000 top grant for saving nearly 3,000 animals during national summer challenge – The Central California SPCA found homes for 2,640 animals between June and August during a national challenge for grant funding, winning the top prize of $100,000.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Stockton animal shelter gets $30,000 prize, $70,000 gift – A summer of hard work paid off Tuesday for the Stockton Animal Shelter, with an anonymous donor’s $70,000 gift making the day even more rewarding for the long-beleaguered southside facility.  Stockton Record article

Michael Fitzgerald: Love Stockton? You’ll need a permit – Organizers of the annual Stockton is Magnificent event say the city’s red tape and unhelpful bureaucratic mindset may discourage them from staging it again.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Sacramento County supervisors delay action on homeless shelters – As local church leaders raise funds to house homeless people this winter, Sacramento Countysupervisors backed off from a proposal Tuesday that would have restricted shelters operated by religious organizations.  Sacramento Bee article

Virgin logs 54th test flight of SpaceShip Two – Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, the futuristic rocket plane expected to carry hundreds of tourists to suborbital space, completed an unpowered test flight at Mojave Air and Space Port Tuesday.  Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – On Nov. 4, vote for Debbie Darden in District 1, Valerie Davis in District 3 and Brooke Ashjian in District 7 on the Fresno Unified School District Board of Trustees.

Merced Sun-Star – History, like love, can feel at once cumulative and sudden. That’s how it was Monday, as the U.S. Supreme Court allowed same-sex marriage to become legal in most of the United States.

Modesto Bee – A moratorium is needed on Stanislaus County well permits.

Sacramento Bee – Three California Supreme Court justices deserve a thumbs up from voters; Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has shown himself to be an aggressive regulator and has earned a second four-year term.

Stockton Record – Chuck Winn has a significant advantage in terms of governmental experience and a good grasp of how to solve issues. He’s the best choice for the post.