October 9, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

SD14: Chevron money flows freely to onetime political foe Andy Vidak – What a difference a year makes in politics. Just ask Republican state Sen. Andy Vidak, whose Central Valley seat is key to Democrats regaining their two-thirds super-majority in the Legislature. With Vidak facing a tough, well-funded re-election challenge from Fresno Democrat Luis Chavez, Chevron and two other oil companies have pumped $1.5 million into the Coalition to Restore California’s Middle Class, an independent expenditure committee formed earlier this year.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California tribe fighting casino makes $5.4 million campaign donation – California campaign committees reported more than $12.5 million in donations Tuesday, among the biggest one-day totals of the 2014 election as critics of a proposed Madera casino, backers of state schools chief candidate Marshall Tuck, and others poured in money.  Capitol Alert

Gov. Brown

Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown runs odd re-election campaign – Gov. Jerry Brown‘s campaign for a record fourth term is one of the oddest in California history, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

‘First Look’: Reporter James Burger talks about vice president’s visit, 21st Congressional District race – Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Bakersfield Tuesday afternoon was a big deal. Californian reporter James Burger, who sat among the crowd of 2,797 listeners, talked about the experience and race Wednesday on “First Look with Scott Cox.”  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno judicial candidates trade barbs at debate – The debate Wednesday between the two candidates in Fresno County’s lone judicial race was billed as a chance to hear them express their views about today’s leading legal issues. Instead, Lisa Gamoian and Rachel Hill spent much of their time reciting their credentials and endorsements, trading verbal jabs and addressing a mysterious email that attacked Hill as an “ultra left-wing” liberal. Hill called the email “outrageous and absurd.”  Fresno Bee article

Patterson mayoral, council candidates keep it mostly civil at debates – Candidates mostly minded their manners Wednesday in debates focused on many issues facing one of Stanislaus County’s most strategically located, fastest-growing areas.  Modesto Bee article

Stockton Record: Mousalimas best choice to lead San Joaquin County schools – James Mousalimas is the clear choice to be next superintendent and deserves your vote.  Stockton Record editorial

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Yee outpaces Swearengin in state controller fundraising – As the two head toward the November general election, and early mail voting has already started, new campaign finance reports show Yee building on that early advantage and now with a clear fundraising edge. She raised more than $830,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30, and has almost $500,000 in her campaign account and around $40,000 in unpaid bills. Swearengin, by comparison, raised around $480,000 during that same time period and has just short of $215,000 in her account — but more than $105,000 in unpaid bills.  Fresno Bee article

Padilla, Lee lead challengers in California down-ticket contests – State Sen. Alex Padilla had almost eight times as much cash on hand Sept. 30 as Pepperdine University institute director Pete Peterson, his Republican opponent in the race for California secretary of state, one of two down-ticket offices viewed as Republicans’ best chances at a statewide win next month. In the race for state controller, Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, a Democrat, had $496,000 cash on hand, more than double the $214,500 of Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, a Republican.  Capitol Alert

Fresno Bee: Prop 2 rainy-day fund makes sense for California – In the form of Proposition 2, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators are offering California voters an alternative to the budget crisis that undoubtedly will return one day.  Fresno Bee editorial

George Skelton:  Prop 47’s sentencing reform should go to Legislature, not ballot – Proposition 47, which would reduce penalties for drug and theft crimes, is yet another initiative that should never have been on the state ballot. The Legislature and governor get paid to deal with such things. And when they do, we’re usually better served.  Skelton column in LA Times

State schools superintendent campaigns in Bakersfield – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, up for re-election this year, stopped in Bakersfield Wednesday on the campaign trail. Speaking Wednesday at a town hall meeting held at the Kern High School Teachers Association building at 2441 F St. Torlakson lauded his work to promote career and technical education, get a new school funding formula passed and start implementing statewide K-12 benchmarks known as Common Core State Standards.  Bakersfield Californian article


Mark Powell: Ceremony shows what’s best about immigration – Immigration has been a hot topic on this continent since about, oh, 1492. And nowadays, it’s not often you find something both pro- and anti-immigration crowds should be able to agree on. But I think I found that thing Wednesday at the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument in Keene. It was there that 20 residents — whose countries of origin included Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Iran and Jordan — earned coveted U.S. citizenship.  Powell in Bakersfield Californian

Other areas

White men are 31 percent of the American population.  They hold 65 percent of all elected offices – The folks at Who Leads Us, a project by the Women Donors Network, have posed an interesting question about the state of politics: Do we live in a reflective democracy? The short answer is no, and the long answer is also no. Washington Post article

Dan Walters:  Bera-Ose debate mostly attacks and bromides – Sacramento area voters were treated Wednesday – or more accurately, subjected – to a mini version of the vapid exchanges of pre-digested bromides, sound bites and buzzwords that comprise contemporary American political discourse.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Oakland’s shrug-inducing, overstuffed, unexciting mayoral race – Many Oakland residents say they would like a mayor other than Jean Quan, but they’re having a hard time settling on exactly who that should be. A surprising 39 percent of Oakland voters haven’t made up their minds about who should run the city with less than a month to go before election day, according to a recent survey.  San Francisco Chronicle article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Hanford council spells out tax ‘intent’ – The Hanford City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to adopt a resolution expressing its intent for 70 percent of the proceeds from an upcoming sales tax measure will be spent on public safety.  Hanford Sentinel article

Investigation looks into why firefighting plan crashed near Yosemite – The investigation continues into the crash of a Cal Fire tanker that went down outside Yosemite National Park, killing its pilot and grounding a fleet of firefighting planes.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Builder enters Bakersfield market with plans for 400 new houses – A large homebuilder active north and south of Kern County has moved into the Bakersfield market with its purchase of nearly 400 unfinished lots it plans to turn into homes for first-time and “move-up” buyers starting next year.  Bakersfield Californian article

Event center under construction in northwest Fresno – A Utah events center company broke ground this week on a pair of buildings in northwest Fresno that will give brides and businesses free reign to plan their own party. That means you choose the caterer and the planner to personalize your special event instead of picking from the venue’s list of vendors. Then host the party in a country club-like setting for a lower cost.  Fresno Bee article

Decision looms in environmental challenges to Kings arena project – With construction underway on the new Sacramento Kings arena, two lawsuits challenging the project on environmental grounds are about to be decided, perhaps as early as Thursday.  Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Arts Council may assume Water Tower lease – Fresno’s varied arts community isn’t too shabby in the political medium, as well. The City Council on Thursday is scheduled to consider a lease that hands management of downtown’s historic Water Tower to the Fresno Arts Council.  Fresno Bee article

The State Worker: Why state-employee retirements are on the upswing – Are state workers resuming their rush to retirement? California’s eight-month streak of declining state-pension applications ended with a 24 percent jump in July, according to CalPERS data. August followed with a hefty 64 percent surge, the largest single-month percentage increase since July 2010. Retirement filings last month rose 23 percent compared with a year ago.  Sacramento Bee article

Southern California office leasing market boosted by job growth – Job growth in Southern California finally produced a robust quarter of leasing for office landlords, who were able to fill long-vacant space and push up rents.  LA Times article


Merced has to make well decisions – A site that would have been the next location for a Merced well recently tested too high for manganese, so the city will have to pick another location – but that comes with other problems.  Merced Sun-Star article

LA City Council introduces plan to encourage urban farming – Two Los Angeles City Council members want to transform empty, blighted lots into flourishing urban farms. A motion introduced Wednesday by Councilmen Felipe Fuentes and Curren Price calls for landowners to receive tax breaks for leasing vacant property for agriculture. LA Times article

Sanger livestock genetics bank truly a global effort – A United Nations sponsored animal genetic research facility could open in Fresno County within the next two years. The non-profit conservation facility will house livestock breeds from more than 100 nations, bring world-class scientists to the area and offer training opportunities to local veterinarian students.  The Business Journal article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Porterville chief placed on leave – The City of Porterville has placed its police chief on paid administrative leave. City officials confirmed that Chief Chuck McMillan was placed on leave Tuesday pending an investigation. The details of why McMillan was placed on leave were not given by the city manager’s office.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Fresno State professors call for salary increase – Borrowing a line from Fresno State President Joseph Castro, about 60 professors on Wednesday asked the university leader to “be bold” and step up the call to California State University officials for higher faculty salaries.  Fresno Bee article

EdSource Report: Preparing effective teachers – A new report from EdSource, titled Preparing World Class Teachers: Essential Reforms of Teacher Preparation and Credentialing in California, identifies seven key challenges that the state must address to ensure an effective teaching force – and the most promising strategies to address them at a local and statewide level.  EdSource article

Parents flock to pick up kids from Liberty High following threat – Liberty High School parents flocked to school Wednesday to pick up their kids after an anonymous tip threatened to “Sandy Hook” the school if the comment got “1,000 ups.”  Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno State receives grant for infant care training – The Central California Children’s Institute at Fresno State received a $502,000 grant Wednesday to create a three-year program aimed at improving the quality of clinical care for children up to 5 years old. The program will focus primarily on clinicians who work with children exhibiting behavioral and developmental challenges, such as a lack of vocalization and acting out.  Fresno Bee article

Report: San Joaquin Delta College has less crime than surrounding neighborhoods – Delta’s most recent legally required annual crime report came out last week. While some categories of crime, such as forcible fondling and burglary, saw an increase, there were once again no murders and no rapes at Delta College, and overall crime remains lower than surrounding Stockton neighborhoods, authorities say.  Stockton Record article

LA Unified announces sweeping expansion of computer science course work – The Los Angeles Unified School District is teaming up with a nonprofit to launch a sweeping expansion of computer science course work, officials announced Tuesday. The three-year effort will train L.A. Unified teachers to help students at all grade levels learn about how computers work, culminating in advanced computer coding at the high school level.  LA Times article

San Jose State promises action to improve racial climate on campus – Nearly a year after horrific racial bullying allegations rocked San Jose State, the administration publicly discussed the steps it plans to take to make the campus safer and more welcoming for black students and others.  San Jose Mercury News article

Yosemite High School adds green technology course – Yosemite High School has added a green technology and energy conservation course this fall, the first campus in the Merced Union High School District to offer such a curriculum.  Merced Sun-Star article

Slain civil rights activist to receive posthumous award at UC Merced – UC Merced will present a social justice award next month to the family of a civil rights activist killed in 1965 while registering black voters in Alabama. The Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance will be given to the children of Viola Gregg Liuzzo during a Nov. 6 ceremony at UC Merced, 5200 Lake Road.  Merced Sun-Star article


Dog fire at Yosemite continues to grow; body of tanker pilot recovered – Yosemite National Park officials say the Dog Rock fire has grown to around 250 acres with no containment as of Wednesday evening, a day after an air tanker pilot was killed while fighting the blaze.  Merced Sun-Star articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleSacramento Bee article

El Portal finds itself on front line of another devastating fire – Residents of Foresta Road in El Portal stood out on their front porches, watching attentively and in disbelief, as helicopters and air tankers continued to battle the Dog Rock fire Wednesday evening.  Merced Sun-Star article

Oil companies’ fracking fines go to Visalia-based water center – State authorities have fined two oil companies a total of $476,784 for illegally sending salty fluids and drilling wastes into unlined pits, including fluids from controversial hydraulic fracturing. Half the penalty — $238,392 — will go to the Community Water Center of Visalia to help provide clean drinking water for disadvantaged communities in the San Joaquin Valley. The center is a nonprofit drinking-water advocate.  Fresno Bee article

Railroads sue California over new crude oil rules – California’s two major railroad companies have filed suit in federal court challenging a state law requiring railroads to come up with an oil spill prevention and response plan.  Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: California makes progress on train safety by inspecting railroad bridges – It’s encouraging that important steps are being taken to make sure oil trains rumbling through California don’t derail, but the job isn’t nearly done yet.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Emails show close ties between state regulators and utility executives – Cherry’s lengthy dinner memo was among emails released this week by PG&E when it disclosed that they are part of an investigation by federal prosecutors into the utility and its relationship with the PUC. Virtually every aspect of the utility’s vast operations in Northern and Central California is regulated by the PUC. LA Times article

EPA says new vehicle mileage hits record 24.1 mpg – Gas mileage for new cars and trucks in the U.S. averaged a record 24.1 miles per gallon last year, but gains in fuel economy are slowing.  AP article

California solar tower that can kill birds dropped – A solar-energy company has dropped a proposal to build a 75-story solar tower near California’s Joshua Tree National Park employing a kind of solar technology that can cause birds to ignite in midair.  AP article

Looking at Lake Success’ future – To look at Success Lake now, it’s hard to believe that years of restrictions that prevented it from being filled to its full, designed capacity were lifted in April. Striations in the shoreline show how the water line has diminished over the years, while willow have taken root past the old shoreline down into areas no longer covered by water.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Health/Human Services

Is Kern County ready for Ebola? Maybe, maybe not – Kern County Public Health Officer Dr. Claudia Jonah said her office is monitoring national and global ebola matters closely, including daily communication with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Bakersfield California article

Merced County officials prepare for possibility of Ebola – Amid the spread of the deadly Ebola virus to the United States, health workers in Merced County have entered preparedness mode by revamping infectious-disease protocols.  Merced Sun-Star article

Lemoore Ebola rumors a hoax – Local health officials say a recent rumor circulating about Ebola infecting residents in the community of Lemoore is a hoax. Hanford Sentinel article

Ebola patient’s death renews questions about care – The death of the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States renewed questions about his medical care and whether Thomas Eric Duncan’s life could have been extended or saved if the Texas hospital where he first sought help had taken him in sooner.  AP article

8th person tested for Ebola in LA County is quarantined – A man who recently traveled to Liberia was admitted to Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood this week with no Ebola-like symptoms but has been placed under quarantine, hospital officials said Wednesday.  LA Times article

Voters may be asked to enact parcel tax to fund hospital completion – Numerous potential sources are out there, but the Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District’s options for additional funding to help construction of the new hospital remain limited, according to a report by consultant Gary Hicks.  Tehachapi News article

Health agency moving to skid row to help homeless – Los Angeles County health agency is moving its headquarters and medical clinic into the heart of skid row in what experts said could become a national model for curbing homelessness.  LA Times article

Children’s hospital gets $1.25 million for diabetes education – A Fresno development company has given Children’s Hospital Central California $1.25 million for diabetes education. The gift from River Park Properties and Lance-Kashian & Company will be used to develop a diabetes education program, hospital officials said Wednesday.  Fresno Bee article

Expert rejects evidence of life in brain-dead girl – A court-appointed expert has told a California judge he sees no evidence that a 13-year-old girl is alive 10 months after a coroner signed her death certificate. The opinion was provided Monday in the case of Jahi McMath by Stanford University pediatric neurologist Paul Fisher.  AP article;San Francisco Chronicle article

Samantha Hill: Using these two health terms interchangeably harms us all – The Bakersfield resident and second-year graduate student at the University of Washington writes, “Behavioral health is a blanket term that is often used interchangeably with mental health. However, there is an important difference to be noted between the two. Mental health is a reference to an individual’s psychological state. Having a mental health diagnosis is not solely based on an individual’s behaviors. Behavioral health is a more accepted and welcome term in society that looks at multiple dimensions of well-being including, but not limited to, substance use and mental health.” Hill op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

UCI awarded $8 million for creation of brain cell database –  UC Irvine announced Wednesday that it had been awarded an $8-million grant to establish one of six centers around the country tasked with creating a database of brain cell activity, expected to help develop treatment for a number of diseases.  LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

General Plan workshop: Boggs Tract farm provides template for greener Stockton – Hard by desolate train tracks in a proud but weary corner of Stockton, marigolds bloom, cornstalks reach to the sun and cantaloupes swell. In the space of four short years, the Boggs Tract Community Farm has sprouted into a green oasis that adorns a venerable neighborhood of tidy bungalows, a community center and an elementary school.  Stockton Record article

Tulare supervisors delay decision on topless bar – Tulare County supervisors have put off a decision on whether to renew an adult-oriented business license to a Lindsay-area topless bar in order to give the owner time to hire an attorney.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Innovative apartment complex for homeless opens on skid row – The 100-unit building, which began accepting tenants almost a year ago, is made out of prefabricated modules stacked like children’s building blocks at angles that jut out above the corner of Maple Avenue and 6th Street. Amenities include a community garden, running track, exercise and art rooms and a library. LA Times article


Water around Bay Bridge tower rods came from rain, official says – Rain that fell during construction of the new Bay Bridge eastern span was the likely source of water that pooled around 400 steel rods anchoring the signature tower to its foundation, a bridge project official said Wednesday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

San Francisco tries to vote its way out of chronic traffic jam – The question about transportation being posed to San Francisco voters this fall might be summed up this way: Do you want to get on the bus and be on your way, or do you want to stand there and keep waiting?  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other Areas

Modesto down to three candidates for city manager – Modesto is down to three candidates for city manager. The City Council is expected to interview two of them Monday in closed session. The third candidate cannot make the interview but can be interviewed at another time, said Bob Murray with Bob Murray & Associates, the Roseville-based executive search firm helping Modesto.  Modesto Bee article

LA officials seek to ease parking problems – Los Angeles officials pushed forward Wednesday with two programs that target one of the city’s most ubiquitous problems: finding a place to park.  LA Times article

Men and violence: Sizing up how men size up one another – Fessler and his postdoctoral assistant, Colin Holbrook, have spent nearly four years chasing the notion that humans, particularly men, super-size or shrink a mental picture of their adversaries and themselves when figuring out whether they can win a potential conflict.  LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has shown himself to be an aggressive regulator and has earned a second four-year term; In the form of Proposition 2, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators are offering California voters an alternative to the budget crisis that undoubtedly will return one day.

Merced Sun-Star – Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has shown himself to be an aggressive regulator and has earned a second four-year term.

Modesto Bee – Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has shown himself to be an aggressive regulator and has earned a second four-year term.

Sacramento Bee – It’s encouraging that important steps are being taken to make sure oil trains rumbling through California don’t derail, but the job isn’t nearly done yet;In the form of Proposition 2, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators are offering California voters an alternative to the budget crisis that undoubtedly will return one day.

Stockton Record – James Mousalimas is the clear choice to be next superintendent of schools in San Joaquin County and deserves your vote.