October 8, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Environmental nuisance or grocery-store necessity? California voters to decide fate of plastic bags – Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown foreshadowed the beginning of the end for plastic bags in California. “We’re the first to ban these bags, and we won’t be the last,” Brown wrote as he signed Senate Bill 270, outlawing single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and other retail establishments in California. Looking back, he may have spoken too soon. Sacramento Bee article

Report shows big increase in people seeking asylum on border – Hundreds of thousands of people have sought asylum along the U.S.-Mexico border in the last two years, a dramatic increase that shows how migrants have changed from mostly Mexican men trying to evade capture to more Central American families who often turn themselves in, a report for the federal government shows. AP article 

Valley politics

Ballots will hit mailboxes in coming days — The Merced County Elections Office will send out ballots this week, and those who vote by mail can expect a new addition in their packet. “By popular demand. … Anyone who receives those ballots will also receive an ‘I Voted’ sticker,” said Barbara Levey, the county registrar of voters. Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Sacramento Bee: End the illusion: Abolish the death penalty – The questions persist about our collective willingness to carry out the ultimate penalty, about the vagaries of an imperfect justice system, and the fundamental principle we learned as children: Two wrongs don’t make a right. Sacramento Bee editorial

Lisa Green: Prop 66 preserves justice and public safety – Kern County’s district attorney writes, “Please help reform the death penalty in California in order to see that justice is provided to these family members. Preserve justice and public safety with a NO vote on Proposition 62 and a YES vote on Proposition 66.” Green op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Gwendolyn Turner: Fix broken system, restore death penalty with Prop 66 – The U.S. Army veteran writes, “Do not wait until this happens to you or someone you love to finally understand the purpose and need for the death penalty. Vote yes on Proposition 66 and help me reform the death penalty in California.” Turner op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Hispanic chamber doesn’t oppose tobacco tax after all — In a pair of television ads, tobacco companies say the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce oppose a $2 cigarette tax increase on the November ballot. But on Thursday the chamber asked the campaign to remove its name from the spots, saying it hasn’t taken a stance on the measure at all, according to Frank Montes, chairman of the chamber’s board of directors. Sacramento Bee article

Loretta Sanchez’s dad was for a 9-year-old dancer named Jamieson — Loretta Sanchez’s surprise dab at Wednesday night’s U.S. Senate debate was the brainchild of a child. There’s been much speculation about the inspiration for Sanchez’s nod to popular culture at the end of the hourlong clash with Kamala Harris. Sanchez told her hometown OC Weeklythat the dab was dreamed up by her makeup artist’s 9-year-old daughter, Jamieson, who tagged along after finishing her dance class. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Would-be California governors getting more TV time than actual aspirants — Two other high-profile Democrats considering runs, however, are all over TV. Tom Steyer, the billionaire climate activist, on Friday debuted in an ad for Proposition 56, the $2-a-pack tobacco tax increase. He called the issue “very personal” because his mother was a longtime smoker and died of lung cancer. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who earlier this year said he still has “a lot of service left in me,” spent part of Thursday in the studio cutting a spot for Proposition 51, the $9 billion school construction bond. Sacramento Bee article

PolitiFact CA: Loretta Sanchez misleads with Prop 57 claim — Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez claimed in a U.S. Senate campaign debtate that: “If you give guns to gangs, you can get out of jail free, if (California’s Prop 57) passes. If you do a driveby shooting, you can get out of jail free, if this proposition passes. If you discharge guns on a school yard, you can get out of jail free.” PolitiFact CA article


From El Salvador to Stockton: ‘I didn’t want to live my life like that’ — When Victoria Moreno left San Salvador, El Salvador, to immigrate to the U.S., she didn’t know “anything” about her future home. What she did know was that she was ready to leave her crime-ridden hometown. Vida en el Valle article

Other areas

Incoming! Super PAC’s first big push in Bera-Jones race – Outside spending groups this week reported more than $1.5 million in media buys, mailers and other spending in the 7th Congressional District, a sharp uptick in Super PAC activity in the battleground seat a month before the election. Sacramento Bee article

How a governor’s bid to exert control over California public pensions backfired — Gov. Pete Wilson tried to wrest key powers from the CalPERS board. A labor-led counterattack left the board more independent than ever. LA Times article

Rep. Matsui suffers internal bleeding, rib fractures in D.C.-area crash — Sacramento U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui is going home Friday to her Washington, D.C.-area residence from the hospital after suffering injuries in a car crash earlier in the week that left her with internal bleeding and broken ribs. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article
Presidential Politics

Trump issues apology video, tries to limit damage from vulgar remarks demeaning women – Donald Trump apologized late Friday night for bragging about groping women, but dismissed the uproar over a newly released 2005 recording of his lewd remarks as “nothing more than a distraction.” LA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

California still has thousands fewer police officers than it did pre-recession — California’s economy has largely recovered from the last recession. Its police departments have not. In 2008, the first full year of the recession, California cities employed about 40,240 police officers. Last year, they employed about 37,470, a 7 percent decline, according to new figures from the FBI. Sacramento Bee article

Valley needs doctors – but who will teach them? — A Fresno medical residency program promoted as the best way to attract and keep doctors in the central San Joaquin Valley is closing because it did not have enough doctors to teach the medical residents. The Sierra Vista Family Medicine Residency Program, which opened three years ago at a Clinica Sierra Vista center in downtown Fresno, will graduate its last class of residents at the end of June 2017. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Downtown Fresno hipster spot Peeve’s Public House closes for good – It’s official. Peeve’s is dead. That’s Peeve’s Public House, the restaurant and pub on Fulton Mall, not the dog it’s named after. The popular spot that was a model of downtown Fresno revitalization closed in late June for what was supposed to be a few weeks, with owner Craig Scharton saying he was talking to investors who could help him reopen. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Job market shows resilience, added 156,000 jobs last month – Amid a presidential campaign marked by fears about the country’s economic future, the American jobs machine keeps chugging. Employers added 156,000 positions in September, the Labor Department said on Friday, enough to accommodate new entrants to the labor force and entice back workers who dropped out after the Great Recession. New York Times article

Measure K supporters see ‘positive’ reception – After Measure K narrowly failed in June, local law enforcement officials are confident Kings County voters will support the public safety tax measure next month. Hanford Sentinel article

Adam Christianson: For safer and better roads, our county needs Measure L – The Stanislaus County sheriff writes, “It’s no secret California government has forgotten how to plan for the future. But here in Stanislaus County, we can vote Yes on Measure L to fix our roads and then actually maintain what we fix. Measure L provides our county with a dedicated source of local transportation funding to make streets and highways safer, repair our roads and bridges and, in most cases, require the streets we fix to be repaved at least every eight years.” Christianson op-ed in Modesto Bee

Bruce Frohman: There are no offramps from Measure L – The former Modesto councilman writes, “Measure L proposes to raise sales taxes by one-half percent for 25 years to fund “transportation” projects. It taxes citizens within Stanislaus County an extra $1 billion. Once the tax is approved, voters are stuck. There are no offramps. Campaign promises are meaningless; only the measure’s vague wording is binding. Voters may get what is promised. Or not.” Frohman op-ed in Modesto Bee
Hanford city staff: Old Courthouse needs $390,000 upgrade – The Old Courthouse’s air conditioning/heating system is failing, pipes burst and flooded part of the basement recently, and the city needs to invest money to fix things up, city staff told members of the Hanford City Council Tuesday night. The only question is, are council members willing to spend an estimated $2.4 million to get the Old Courthouse, the Bastille and the rest of Courthouse Square in Civic Park up to snuff? Hanford Sentinel article

Bethany Clough: An $11,000 handbag in Fresno? Yes, you can buy that here now – Handbags from Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. A pair of red-bottom Christian Louboutin heels for $595. Cartier watches. These high-end items aren’t things you expect to see for sale in a place like Fresno, but they are here now. Sceptre & Sash Authentic Luxury opened recently at 1528 E. Champlain Drive, just a few doors down from Yosemite Ranch restaurant. It sells handbags, jewelry, watches and other luxury goods. Fresno Bee article

Poll: Chargers’ stadium measure is way, way behind — The Chargers stadium ballot measure is falling far short of the support needed for approval on Nov. 8 and backing for the initiative is shrinking instead of growing, according to a Union-Tribune/10News poll released Friday. San Diego Union-Tribune article

The egg industry considered vegan Just Mayo a threat – and launched a secret campaign to destroy it – A government-supervised group representing the egg industry overstepped its authority by waging a two-year “crisis” campaign to halt the growth of a San Francisco vegan mayonnaise startup, joking about putting “a hit” on its CEO and deleting emails in an apparent attempt to cover its tracks, a federal investigation has found. LA Times article

To keep drones out of high-risk areas, companies try hijacking them and shooting them down – A public awareness campaign last year did little to deter the growing number of rogue drones flying near wildfires and forcing firefighters to ground their own aircraft. So this year, the Department of the Interior tried something a little more direct. LA Times article


More water in California reservoirs, but drought persists – California’s major reservoirs are holding 69 percent more water than a year ago, the U.S. government announced Friday, but regulators warned that drought conditions continue to plague the state. Sacramento Bee article

U.S. farmers to get safety net payments — Low crop prices in 2015 have triggered more than $7 billion in help for U.S. farmers as part of a federal safety net program. About 1.7 million farmers who enrolled in either the Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs will receive payments to help offset their losses. Fresno Bee article

Peter Drekmeier: We must work together to balance a limited resource – water – The Tuolumne River Trust policy director writes, “In California, water is a public trust resource. It belongs to all of us, not just those who own the infrastructure to impound it and divert it to fields and cities. The state is legally obligated to balance its various beneficial uses, including protecting fish and wildlife species and the associated jobs, recreation and other uses. This isn’t an easy task in a state where water rights total five times the amount of precipitation that falls on the state.” Drekmeier op-ed in Modesto Bee

Farm Beat: Experts test idea for keeping pesticides from drifting — Pesticides can drift off the edges of orchards and end up in streams that provide drinking water and fish habitat. A promising solution: Use a fan to blow the chemical back into the trees as the spray rig moves along. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Atwater residents call for more police officers at town hall meeting – Atwater’s peak of 34 officers began to dwindle during the Great Recession, Wisdom said. Cities all over the state laid off public employees, including officers and firefighters, to make up for budget shortfalls. Modesto Bee article

Tuolumne County at forefront as jail industry law goes into place – Tuolumne County Jail inmates are benefiting the community, the jail and themselves through a program approved by Gov. Jerry Brown last month. Modesto Bee article

Arraignment for Los Banos trustee charged with corruption continued — The Friday arraignment of Los Banos Unified School District Trustee Tommy Jones on bribery charges was postponed to Oct. 19 to coincide with the arraignment of his co-defendant, Gregory Opinski. Jones faces two felony counts of bribing a public official, and one felony count of conflict of interest. Merced Sun-Star article

Foon Rhee: A more diverse police force also means more women — With the national spotlight squarely on fatal police shootings of often-unarmed black men, activists and commentators (including yours truly) have called for more racial diversity in law enforcement agencies as one essential reform. What has received far less attention is the need for more female police officers – and how that might also lead to fewer deadly confrontations between police and residents. Rhee column in Sacramento Bee 

Police, citizen patrol group both claim credit for south Sacramento crime decrese — Sacramento police say a concerted effort to stem a crime wave targeting Asian Americans in south Sacramento has paid off, noting a 43 percent decrease in robberies over the last month. The announcement Thursday of the dramatic downtick in crime comes after hundreds of Asian American residents showed up in force during a community meeting last month to chastise police for not responding aggressively enough. Sacramento Bee article 

LA police commissioners weighing reforms that would improve LAPD transparency and training on using deadly force – The Los Angeles Police Commission is considering significant changes in the way the LAPD handles shootings by officers, including releasing information to the public more quickly and expanding training designed to reduce the number of shootings. LA Times article

Sacramento officer involved in death of mentally ill man was cleared two decades ago in another fatality – One of two Sacramento officers who shot a mentally ill man in July after apparently attempting to run him over was cleared two decades ago in the death of another suspect. LA Times article

Parolee charged in ‘execution’ of well-liked sheriff’s sergeant – A parolee with an extensive criminal history was charged Friday with murder in this week’s shooting of a beloved Los Angeles County Sheriff’s sergeant in Lancaster, authorities said. LA Times article

Man shocked with Taser by Burbank police died as he lay unaided for 14 minutes in barricade ‘hot zone’ — The Los Angeles County coroner’s office has deferred ruling on the cause of death of a man who was shocked with a Taser during a fight with Burbank police officers earlier this week, officials said Friday. LA Times article 

Family of homeless man killed by San Francisco Police Department officers files federal lawsuit — Advocates on Friday joined the family of a homeless man fatally shot by two San Francisco police officers in April at the location of Luís Góngora Pat’s death to announce the filing of a federal civil rights lawsuit and to respond to details of a medical examiner’s report released last week. KQED report


Bullard High student found infected with tuberculosis – The Fresno Unified school district is working to identify students who may have been exposed to tuberculosis after a Bullard High student was diagnosed with the disease. Fresno Bee article

Ivy League Project prepares students for college — Having just started their freshmen year, a group of Hanford students are already preparing for college. Four Hanford freshmen are taking part in the Ivy League Project, a program with the goal of encouraging economically disadvantaged students to apply to the most prestigious universities in the United States like Harvard, Yale and Brown. Hanford Sentinel article

Hmong, Punjabi classes planned for Central High — Hmong and Punjabi language classes are coming to Central High School, thanks to a grassroots effort as leaders of both communities teamed up. Fresno Bee article

Linden students look into future through career fair — Pam Knapp, director of College and Career Readiness at Linden High School, has been planning for Friday’s career fair since April. It was quite the task, penciling in commitments from more than 90 speakers in 24 professions, along with 40 booths for the hundreds of students who participated. Stockton Record article


Southern California Edison to pay $3 million for violating Clean Water Act – Southern California Edison has agreed to pay $3 million in a settlement with state water regulators after a maintenance project at Shaver Dam resulted in the death of thousands of fish. Fresno Bee article

New plan for Merced County power line project satisfies residents – Officials with the Merced Irrigation District approved alternative plans this week for a hotly debated power-line project on the outskirts of Merced that appears to satisfy everyone involved. Merced Sun-Star article

After criticism, SoCal air board adds more regulatory teeth to smog-reduction plan – Southern California air quality officials released a proposal Friday to give more regulatory teeth to a smog-reduction plan that has faced criticism for its voluntary, industry-friendly approach. LA Times article

Judge dismisses lawsuit by man who says SMUD smart meters are health hazard — A Sacramento Superior Court judge has dismissed a lawsuit by an Elk Grove resident who has been a persistent critic of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s smart meter programSacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services 

New report examines childhood deaths in Kern County – A new report from the Kern County Public Health Services Department is looking at the issue of childhood deaths in the county. According to the report, 51 children under the age of 17 died in the county last year. KVPR report

How to get a handle on rising prescription drug prices — It’s no secret that pharmaceutical costs are on the rise. Recent outrage over the escalating price for the life-saving EpiPen has not only caused concern among patients in need of the drug, but among members of the general public who are rightly asking where the money to pay for this inflation is coming from. Local experts say the answer is ultimately that money will come from us in the form of increased insurance premiums. The Business Journal article 

Land Use/Housing

Kern judge to let all 24th Street work resume — More than a year after he sided with a group of around 100 residents and halted the 24th Street widening, a Kern County judge on Friday praised the project’s redone environmental report and said he would allow all work to resume on the roadway. Bakersfield Californian article


Caltrans gets ready for two more Bay Bridge pier explosions — Caltrans is getting ready for the next major step in removing the big concrete piers that used to anchor the old eastern span of the Bay Bridge. KQED report

Other areas

Young, Latino, and hanging on to the American Dream – Latinos make up the majority of California’s young people. So their future helps shape the future of the state. That’s why we dedicated a special edition of our broadcast last week to exploring challenges Latino youth face when it comes to education, jobs and financial security. KVPR report 

Lemoore mayor honors Ashliman — Lemoore Mayor Lois Wynne honored Naval Air Station Lemoore’s commanding officer Capt. Monty Ashliman at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting for his service to the community and the country. Hanford Sentinel article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Hillary Clinton will give more Americans an opportunity to succeedThumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee – End the illusion: Abolish the death penalty.