September 10, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

Why the big Latino voting block is nowhere near as large as it could be –  By all accounts, the Central Valley is a place where Latino candidates should win elections. Latino political activism here dates back to the farmworker movement of the 1960s. In one congressional district that stretches up through the valley from Kern County to Fresno County, nearly 3 out of 4 residents are Latino. Yet Latino candidates’ election losses have piled up here in recent years — in large part because Latinos aren’t turning out to vote. LA Times article 

Jerry Brown, Kevin de Leon abandon legislative push to require 50 percent cut in gasoline use — In a major setback for Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate agenda, the governor and legislative leaders on Wednesday abandoned an effort to require a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in motor vehicles by 2030. The announcement followed weeks of lobbying by oil companies and resistance not only from Republicans, but moderate Democrats in the Assembly. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; New York Times article; AP article; Capitol Weekly article; KQED report

California Assembly approves right-to-die legislation — After nearly a quarter-century of efforts in California to afford terminally ill patients the right to end their lives with a doctor’s help, state lawmakers and the governor may be on the verge of granting the dying that authority. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article; San Jose Mercury News article; AP article; Stockton Record article


Gov. Brown 

Governor vetoes drone bill, signs revenge porn measure – Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday vetoed legislation to restrict the use of drones over private property. The governor also signed a measure aimed at helping prosecutors in “revenge porn” cases — those in which an estranged spouse or romantic partner posts nude or sexual pictures of a partner to embarrass that person. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article


Valley politics

Ashburn returns to a familiar haunt, film crew in tow — It wasn’t exactly long-sleeve-denim shirt weather in Bakersfield Wednesday afternoon, yet there was Roy Ashburn, covered head to toe in his November best, sipping a large medium roast as he pretended to read The Californian for a camera crew outside Dagny’s. Bakersfield Californian article

Bestolarides’ war chest could be used in 2018 — Prior to being appointed San Joaquin County Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk last week, Steve Bestolarides was mulling a run for mayor of Stockton and had amassed nearly $100,000 in campaign contributions. However, now that he has been appointed to another elected county office, it remains unclear what will happen to the money collected by the Citizens to Elect Steve Bestolarides Mayor 2016 since its creation two years ago. Stockton Record article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

U.S. Senate contest in California shaping up as one-sided — The first open U.S. Senate seat in a generation in California was expected to attract a large cast of marquee candidates, leading to a spirited scrum next year to replace departing Democrat Barbara Boxer. So far, that hasn’t happened. AP article


Other areas 

No California road-building, gasoline tax deal this week, leaders say — The pursuit of an elusive deal to fund California’s transportation infrastructure will force some lawmakers to work beyond the looming end of the legislative session, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leadership said Thursday. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Medical marijuana bill coming down to the wire – With the clock ticking down on the legislative session, the leading groups that have compromised on a bill to regulate and license medical marijuana in California are getting a bit tense about the lack of action. Sacramento Bee article

If cops and unions agree, then why hasn’t medical weed bill passed? — Just days before Friday’s deadline to pass legislation in this session, something weird is going down in Sacramento with legislation that could — after two decades — bring structure and regulation to the medical marijuana industry. And it may have to do with who gets the credit. San Francisco Chronicle article

Transportation fix delayed, bills moving forward as Legislature nears deadline – The halfway point of the California Legislature’s final sprint for 2015 offered several examples of a long-standing maxim inside the hallways of the state Capitol: The hardest, most controversial proposals are almost always left until the very end. KQED report

California lawmakers approve bills to track racial profiling, police use of force – California lawmakers on Wednesday approved measures intended to shine a light on racial profiling and the use of force by police officers, a response to recent deadly, racially charged incidents in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo. LA Times article

Assemblymember Adam Gray: Amend SB 350! We should all pay our fair share – The Merced Democrat writes, “The Valley’s representatives have asked for amendments that recognize that climate change costs must be shared by all and require the revenue produced by the legislation be focused where impacts are the greatest. They also wants the final decisions made by elected officials directly accountable to the voters.” Gray op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Activists urge Henry T. Perea to support controversial greenhouse gas bills – A group of local clean air activists including the Sierra Club and the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition on Tuesday called on Assembly Member Henry T. Perea to support controversial legislation now pending in the state Legislature that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California. Fresno Bee article

Jason Anderson and Dennis Murphy: New economy takes on old economy on climate bills – Anderson, president of Cleantech San Diego, and Murphy, founding chair of the U.S. Green Building Council California, write, “The basis of opponents’ claims is that new laws like Senate Bill 350 and Senate Bill 32 will hurt Californians just as our state’s landmark climate law, AB 32, has caused any number of problems for the state’s business community. The facts do not bear this out.” Anderson/Murphy op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Joel Fox: No doubt about it: Chicago could use Prop 13 For anyone who doubts that the desire to fund public sector pensions has to do in part with the moves to raise property taxes by changing Proposition 13 let them look to Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel is proposing the largest property tax increase in history for Chicago property owners because he needs money to cover pensions. Fox in Fox & Hounds

End of session: Attack of the drones – Drone bills are buzzing the Capitol and making a beeline for the governor’s desk. At least four measures to curb their use already have flown out of the Legislature with bipartisan support. A fifth, approved in the Senate, awaits action in the Assembly.  The governor has not disclosed his position on any of the bills, the remnants of a dozen pieces of legislation that have targeted drones during the past two years. Capitol Weekly article 

State Sens. Mark Leno and Joel Anderson: Electronic privacy bill protects privacy rights and public safety – Leno, a San Francisco Democrat, and Anderson, an Alpine Republican, write, “While we are spinning our wheels fighting fabricated allegations against SB 178, California has fallen behind other states, including Texas, Virginia and Utah, that have updated their privacy laws for the digital age.” Leno/Anderson op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Assemblymember Jim Cooper: Bill will undercut ability to investigate sexual predators – The Elk Grove Democrat writes, “While well intentioned, Senate Bill 178 will negatively impact law enforcement’s ability to conduct investigations and to successfully prosecute predators for sexual crimes against children.” Cooper op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Get ready: Experts say a government shutdown is likely — In America, you can’t legally bet on political outcomes (at least not yet). But if you could, we’d advise you to put some money on the government shutting down on Oct. 1. Washington Post article

Criminal trial starts for former California gubernatorial candidate – A criminal trial began Wednesday for a Tollhouse man who campaigned for governor of California in 2014, but now stands accused of shooting and wounding a man and killing a horse. Both sides agreed that Tye Glenn Champ Jr., 49, shot John Harrison Price III, 41, in the stomach outside Price’s home in Prather a year ago. Fresno Bee article

Carson mayor under investigation for not filing disclosure reports with state — Carson Mayor Albert Robles, who is leading a high-profile effort to bring two NFL teams to the city, has failed to file disclosure statements for his personal economic interests and political campaign finances, reports that are required by California law, The Times has learned. LA Times article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

A monster El Nino is likely, but there are ‘no guarantees’ —  El Niño is on track to become one of the most powerful on record, strongly suggesting California could face heavy rainfall this winter, climate scientists say. But El Niño still hasn’t sealed the deal, and there still needs to be a dramatic change in the winds in the Pacific Ocean if it is to be as strong as it might be, said Bill Patzert, climatologist for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge. LA Times article

Many California students miss mark in first round of California Common Core tests – California released scores for new Common Core-based standardized tests today with performance as expected – much lower than in past years. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; EdSource article; Searchable district-by-district database in EdSource; Fresno Bee editorial


Jobs and the Economy

Modesto tax’s fate uncertain, but Modesto moves forward with oversight panel – The fate of Measure G – Modesto’s one-half percent general sales tax increase – won’t be decided until Nov. 3 when voters go to the polls. And if the measure passes, it won’t take effect until April 1, and the city won’t see any money from the tax until June. But on Tuesday, the City Council authorized City Manager Jim Holgersson to invite community groups to select people to serve on Measure G’s 11-member oversight committee. Modesto Bee article

Wonderful Community Grants now available online – The application for Wonderful Community Grants is now available online. The Wonderful Company is committed to support the communities of Wasco and Avenal, where many of its employees live, learn and play. Local nonprofits understand what the people of Wasco and Avenal need to thrive, which is why The Wonderful Company is investing $300,000 to help these organizations increase their positive impact. Area nonprofits, faith-based organizations and local government agencies to apply for grants at the $10,000, $25,000 or $50,000 level.  The Wonderful Company website 

Eyeing LA’s Olympics bid, Metro seeks to accelerate two rail projects – Citing L.A.’s quest to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, Los Angeles County transportation officials are seeking to fast-track two of Metro’s most anticipated rail projects. LA Times article

Fresno’s RiverView Shopping Center sold – Local developer DeWayne Zinkin has sold the RiverView Shopping Center in northeast Fresno. Details of the transaction were not made public. Zinkin, who built the upscale shopping center in 2004, did not respond to requests seeking additional information about the sale. The Business Journal article

San Francisco Mayor Lee rolls out affordable housing plan – Mayor Ed Lee detailed his goal on Tuesday to make San Francisco affordable again, fleshing out a plan to build or rehabilitate 10,000 units for low-income and working-class families by 2020. San Francisco Chronicle article

Joe Mathews: Professional football has a California problem — Pro football has a “California problem.” So say some of the most powerful people in the sport. And as a new National Football League season kicks off this weekend, those people are busily pursuing solutions that serve themselves, not the state or its regions. So California needs some offense — our own creative counterproposals. Mathews in Visalia Times-Delta



Bakersfield board toughens stance on water wasters – Water wasters, watch out. Having failed to meet its mandatory state water conservation requirement two months in a row, Bakersfield’s City Water Board on Wednesday approved hitting residents who don’t follow watering rules a little harder than before. Bakersfield Californian article

Cal Water reviewing its controversial surcharge program – California Water Service Co. is taking a second look at the surcharge it imposes on people who exceed their monthly water budgets because its administration “has not been as smooth as we hoped,” its Bakersfield district manager said Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article 

Turlock Oks recycled water for Del Puerto farmers – The city has finally approved the sale of treated wastewater to West Side farmers, an interim step toward a larger project also involving Modesto’s sewage plant. Modesto Bee article 

Sen. Hertzberg proposes California reuse all treated water – With California in the fourth year of a drought, a state lawmaker has introduced a last-minute bill that would require half of treated wastewater to be used for beneficial purposes, including landscape watering, by 2026 and 100% usage by 2036. LA Times article

Kings’ tomato-processing industry keeps cranking – They’re small, they’re greenish, they’re hard and they don’t get much respect. But don’t knock processing tomatoes when a truck rumbles by loaded down with them. They may not be the luscious varieties that go into Santa Barbara salads, but the unsung crop sustains thousands of local families, pours millions into the Kings County economy and keeps pizza restaurants rolling. Hanford Sentinel article 

Report: Winter farm flooding may help aquifers — Flooding farm fields with storm runoff in the winter could help ease the southern San Joaquin Valley’s critical groundwater overdraft problem, according to University of California, Davis, researchers. Hanford Sentinel article 

Record walnut crop undercutting prices – Heading into the annual California walnut harvest, processors and shippers cut target prices for the export market by one-third or more from a year ago, faced with predictions of a second consecutive record crop and weakening Chinese and European economies sapping demand. Stockton Record article 

Jeff Jardine: What lay beneath still off limits at New Melones, other dwindling lakes — For decades, bits and pieces of local history and the ghosts that guard them remained deep beneath the murky waters of New Melones Reservoir, Lake Don Pedro, Folsom Lake and other man-made drowners of artifacts. And now that the water levels are way down – courtesy of, among other things, the drought and trout – there’s an opportunity to go relic hunting, right? Wrong – at least not on publicly owned lands, and the reservoirs are all publicly owned. Jardine column in Modesto Bee


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Federal judge says California early-release program can’t exclude male inmates – A Sacramento federal judge ruled Wednesday that an early-release program for female inmates in California’s prisons is unconstitutional and must be expanded to include male inmates. Sacramento Bee article 

New DOJ site launched to provide police transparency — In an age where calls for transparency are being heard across the country for law enforcement agencies, California Attorney General Kamala Harris unveiled a Web-based tool on that provides easy access of statistics across the state’s 400-plus law enforcement agencies. Visalia Times-Delta article 

The biology of crime: Low heart rate may predict criminal behavior, study says — What if a test could identify young men who were nearly 50% more likely than their peers to become violent criminals? Scientists say they have found such a test – and you can take it with two fingers and a clock. LA Times article

Atwater men accused of killing man – and filming it — Three Atwater men were arrested on homicide charges after a woman came to police with a horrifying story: She said her ex-boyfriend had showed her a cell phone video of a man being killed. Merced Sun-Star article



Valley’s results mixed in state’s newest standardized test results – Some school districts in the central San Joaquin Valley fared better or worse than the state average. Among Fresno Unified School District students overall, 27 percent met or exceeded English/language arts standards, while 18 percent met or exceeded them in math. Fresno Bee article

Newer computer-based test results dismal as expected — Fewer than half of the Kern County students who were tested met English and math learning standards, something true of their counterparts statewide, too, according to the results. That’s not a surprise. Bakersfield Californian article

State test scores show Merced, Stanislaus has work to do, especially in math — California released student scores from new computerized tests done last spring, giving the public the first glimpse at how districts are meeting Common Core State Standards. Merced Sun-Star article; Modesto Bee article 

New tests, new standards – San Joaquin County school district officials looked for perspective as they reviewed results of new online testing in which scores in several districts fell below the state average. Stockton Record article

UC sells off $200 million in coal and oil sands investments — The UC system has sold off its endowment and pension fund holdings in coal and oil sands companies, a $200-million move that officials said Wednesday was in response to both environmental concerns and rising financial risk in those industries. LA Times article; AP article

Fresno Unified trustees debate money for new school in southeast Fresno — Fresno Unified’s newest school will be located in southeast Fresno near Sunnyside High, but how the project is funded was a point of contention at Wednesday’s school board meeting. Fresno Bee article 

Fresno State dips in U.S. News college rankings — Fresno State slipped slightly in the “Best Colleges 2016” rankings issued Wednesday by U.S. News & World Report, despite improvements in its graduation rate from last year. Fresno Bee article

Pacific ranked No. 6 among state’s private colleges – University of the Pacific tied with the University of San Francisco for the No. 6 spot among California private institutions on U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges ratings of national universities, released Wednesday. Stockton Record article

Pacific president honored with Athena Award – University of the Pacific President Pamela A. Eibeck looked startled when she stepped out of her office Wednesday afternoon to find a crowd of faculty members and other supporters holding glasses of sparkling wine. The Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce was about to name Eibeck the recipient of the 2015 Athena Award, and everyone knew but her. Stockton Record article

Sacramento Bee: Leaders further devalue diploma – California’s political and educational leaders are on the verge of eviscerating the high school exit exam, a prerequisite to getting a high school diploma that was adopted after years of political and legal battles.  Sacramento Bee editorial 

Roosevelt High School student arrested after cellphone videos show her assault of substitute teacher — A 15-year-old freshman at Roosevelt High School in Fresno is facing a felony assault charge after video surfaced on social media showing her punch a substitute teacher several times and follow the man out of the classroom on Friday. Fresno Bee article



Valley air suffering dangerous ‘double whammy’ – Ozone smog is typically a hot-weather problem, while particle-matter pollution is normally a cold-weather problem. But this week the San Joaquin Valley is facing the “perfect storm,” air officials said, a noxious combination of smoke from wildfires, and dangerous ozone pollution trapped in hot, stagnant air. Bakersfield Californian article; Visalia Times-Delta article; ‘Pollution control district calls Air Alert through Friday’ in Modesto Bee 

With Rough fire approaching, worried foothill residents ask how soon before they must go — Hundreds of foothill residents packed the Dunlap Elementary School gym Wednesday night to learn more about the risk to their homes from the Rough fire burning just a few miles away, and many had the same question on their minds: How soon might they have to flee? Fresno Bee article; KVPR report 

Rough fire’s spread forces Cat Haven to begin moving animals — As the Rough fire continues to grow, new evacuation plans reach into the Sierra foothills including a call for the Endangered Cat Haven near Dunlap to begin moving its animals. Fresno Bee article 

Lode wildfire explodes in size – A wildfire in Northern California that exploded in size hours after it started has left about 17,000 people without power amid a heat wave. The 1,200-acre fire in Amador County is threatening some structures and authorities have ordered people to evacuate homes along three rural roads. AP article 

Tenaya fire in Yosemite estimated at 300-500 acres – A fire discovered in Yosemite Valley on Monday night is spewing more smoke into the air. The Tenaya fire, estimated at 300 to 500 acres, is in Indian Canyon above the north rim of the Valley. Fresno Bee article

Lightning strike sparks mountain fire south of Tehachapi – Multiple lightning strikes sparked a wildfire Wednesday in the mountain range south of Tehachapi in Antelope Canyon, prompting voluntary evacuations for Mountain Meadows, Water Canyon and West Ranch. Bakersfield Californian article

Squaw Valley fire burns 400 acres – A fire in Squaw Valley charred about 400 acres Wednesday, but no structures were burned, Cal Fire reported. It was about 20 percent contained by Wednesday night. Fresno Bee article 

PG&E files motions seeking dismissal of all 28 federal criminal charges it faces – PG&E has filed a barrage of motions in federal court in San Francisco, seeking dismissal of all of the 28 criminal charges it faces for alleged obstruction of justice and pipeline safety violations. San Jose Mercury News article

Homeowners in high fire-risk areas are upset over soaring insurance rates — Soaring insurance rates may accomplish what the Telegraph fire failed to do: drive the Stoffan family from their home of 10 years. LA Times article 

State senators confirm Michael Picker as head of Public Utilities Commission — State senators have confirmed Gov. Jerry Brown’s appointment of a former adviser to lead California’s troubled utilities commission. Senators said Tuesday that they are satisfied that Michael Picker is moving the Public Utilities Commission in the right direction after he replaced Michael Peevey as commission chairman. AP article

Lawsuit says new LA streets plan creates more air pollution, not less – A Westside-based nonprofit group went to court Wednesday to overturn Los Angeles’ sweeping new 20-year transportation plan, saying officials failed to properly examine its effects on public safety, air pollution and other aspects of city life. LA Times article

Visalia splitting from split trash cans — For years, Barbara Hood has had to pay extra on her city solid waste bill because the split trash can the city of Visalia supplied her didn’t have enough room on each side for all of her family’s recyclables and non-recyclable. So she has paid for a second split can for her southwest Visalia home. But Tuesday night she got some happy news, when she spotted a social media posting that the Visalia City Council had voted to eliminate the use of split cans in the city. Visalia Times-Delta article


Health/Human Services

Valley Children’s gets $1.5 million gift from Fowler family – Valley Children’s Healthcare said Wednesday it has received a $1.5 million gift from the Parnagian family, owners of Fowler Packing Company, one of the largest packers and shippers of fresh produce in the United States. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article 

Paying for telemedicine — RAND experts have reviewed past research, which increasingly points to telehealth’s potential for better care, lower costs, and increased convenience. Telehealth could increase access for people in underserved areas, save time for patients, and when used for remote monitoring, help avoid some visits totally. But there is little incentive right now from the provider side. RAND website



Allegiant adding flights from Fresno to Mesa, Arizona — Discount airline Allegiant Air announced Wednesday that it will add nonstop flights between Fresno and Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport starting Dec. 17. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Sacramento light rail adding trains to reduce crowding — Sacramento Regional Transit will put seven additional train cars into service Thursday to reduce crowding that has occurred on several commute trains since the agency expanded service to Cosumnes River College two weeks ago. Sacramento Bee article


Other areas

Fresno Fire Capt. Pete Dern leave hospital to continue rehabilitation at home — It was time for Fresno Fire Capt. Pete Dern to go home. After 164 days recovering from burn injuries at Community Regional Medical Center’s Leon S. Peters Burn Center, the day had come for Dern to leave the downtown Fresno hospital. But before he walked between a line of firefighters in blue uniforms who had assembled for his send-off, he had a few people to thank. Fresno Bee article

Resident objects to Lodi’s plan to buy new firetrucks – A Lodi resident is raising alarm over the city’s intention to purchase two new fire engines at nearly $1 million. The Lodi City Council last week approved the purchase of two new fire engines for $931,329. The engines, which most likely will not be on the Lodi Fire Department’s frontline for at least another year, will replace two older engines that Chief Larry Rooney said are at the end of their useful lives. Stockton Record article

Merced Fire Department to hire temporary chief for planning — Merced City Fire has received approval to hire a temporary employee to assess the department’s staffing and needs as the city grows. Merced Sun-Star article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The first test scores are in, and, as predicted, California’s kids – and California’s schools – have their work cut out for them under Common Core.

Merced Sun-Star – Resisting the strong gravitational pull of SB 350.

Modesto Bee – Resisting the strong gravitational pull of SB 350.

Sacramento Bee – The first test scores are in, and, as predicted, California’s kids – and California’s schools – have their work cut out for them under Common Core; California’s political and educational leaders are on the verge of eviscerating the high school exit exam, a prerequisite to getting a high school diploma that was adopted after years of political and legal battles.

Stockton Record – Kentucky clerk Kim Davis has a choice: Do her job, or step aside.