September 11, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: California’s unfunded pension debts may be larger than acknowledged — The “unfunded liabilities” of state and local pension funds are California’s biggest unresolved political issue – at least in financial terms. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

In California politics, Bay Area ‘controls everything’ — The Bay Area has emerged as a force in state politics, riding a large an engaged Democratic electorate to seven out California’s 10 statewide offices.  San Jose Mercury News article 

Gov. Brown

Brown mum on most propositions, not Prop 57’s proposed guidelines – Gov. Jerry Brown edged close to expressing an opinion about whether he will support Proposition 64, which would legalize marijuana for adult recreational use in California. San Francisco Chronicle article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Plastics industry pushing to halt bag-ban momentum — With California out in front of a nationwide trend that could cut deep into the industry’s profits, plastic manufacturers are pushing a state ballot initiative that would allow them to keep at least some of California’s bag market, while putting the rest of the country on notice that they’re willing to fight for their product. San Francisco Chronicle article

Bakersfield Californian: Vote YES on Proposition 59; stem election flow money — It was a lousy U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Just watch the advertisements and other political stunts to see why it was a lousy ruling. But that is no excuse for clogging an already clogged ballot with a worthless proposition. That said, if you plan to cast a vote in the Prop. 59 contest, you are urged to vote yes. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Other areas

Phil Serna: Farmers deserve right to overtime pay like everyone else – The Sacramento County supervisor writes, “AB 1066 does something very simple and reasonable, especially in light of the harsh, unhealthy and sometimes lethal working conditions afflicting California’s roughly 400,000 farmworkers.” Serna op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Willie Brown: 9/11: the day the world changed — There are some days that you never forget, and some days that the world will never let you forget. For me, Sept. 11, 2001, began with preparations for a trip to New York. Then the phone rang. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

News Stories

Top Stories

Modesto considers $15,000 hiring bonuses for police officers — Police Chief Galen Carroll wants to offer $15,000 hiring bonuses to entice experienced officers from other agencies to work at the Modesto Police Department as part of the city’s effort to increase the department’s staffing and experience. The City Council on Tuesday will consider approving this proposal. Modesto Bee article

Dan Morain: Facing the realities of limited water supplied – The Water Board will be preparing to issue reports making clear that senior water rights holders in the Sacramento River Valley must give up some what they have seen as their water for the benefit of the environment. It all will lead to hard choices, less farming, higher costs and pressure to cut water consumption. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Jobs and the Economy

Lewis Griswold: New microbrewery district on tap for Visalia downtown area — The city has created a microbrewery district that could revive an older part of town and allow entrepreneurs to take advantage of the craft beer trend. Griswold in Fresno Bee

The craft beer project that grew from Masumoto Family Farm’s peach trees – On 80 dusty acres south of Fresno, David “Mas” Masumoto grows organic grapes, peaches and nectarines. The struggles to save his beloved Sun Crest peaches and forge a new connection to land that his family had farmed for three generations was the subject of one of Masumoto’s nine books, 1995’s “Epitaph for a Peach.” Also a columnist and speaker, Masumoto explores the farmer’s shifting place in society, and his latest book — “Changing Season: A Father, a Daughter, a Family Farm,” about his daughter taking over the farm — was released this year. But it took the death of a backyard peach tree for Masumoto fruit to catch on with brewers. LA Times article

After decades of waiting, development finally coming to valuable patch of dirt — Virtually everyone in Bakersfield knows of it. The 14-acre patch of dirt at one of the busiest, most coveted commercial intersections in the city has remained inexplicably empty for decades, even as the city’s southwestern edge has pushed ever outward. Now it appears its long-deferred potential is about to be tapped. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockmarket moving uptown, leaving downtown – A few days before the Stockmarket debuted 16 months ago on a forsaken corner in the long-dormant core of the city, co-founder Amy Sieffert said one of her goals was to play a role in downtown’s revitalization. Stockton Record article

Rent control spreading to Bay Area suburbs, to economists’ dismay – The concept of rent control, once found mostly in large cities, is spreading to the Bay Area’s suburbs, even though virtually every economist thinks it’s a bad idea. San Francisco Chronicle article

San Francisco’s big budget falling short on pensions, health care – When it comes to San Francisco’s huge, hard-to-believe $9.6 billion budget, city residents understandably have a lot of questions. One we’ve received again and again is how much of the pie goes to pay for workers’ pensions and retiree health care. In short? A lot. San Francisco Chronicle article 

The last Festival of Roses? Maybe not — Nobody heeds a call to action like Kern County, and Wasco is no different. Following the news that the Festival of Roses would be ending after Saturday’s event if another group didn’t take it on when the current committee retires, seven groups have expressed interest in saving the beloved community tradition. Bakersfield Californian article

Tax increase approved in Westport Fire Protection District — Voters in the Westport Fire Protection District approved a tax increase that’s expected to raise an additional $130,000 in annual revenue for the rural district. Modesto Bee article

Dispute over hotel tax hike measure resolved — A judge has resolved a dispute over claims of misleading ballot language describing a citizens initiative to raise the San Diego hotel room tax for a possible convention center and tourism marketing. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Wells Fargo CEO should face reckoning — Wells Fargo fired about 5,300 employees over the past several years for opening more than 2 million checking, savings, credit or debit card accounts without customers’ knowledge or consent, according to a settlement announced Thursday with regulators. The big question: Why wasn’t Wells Fargo chief executive John Stumpf one of them? San Francisco Chronicle article


Jeffrey Michael and John Kirlin: Delta tunnels project a muddled gamble – Michael, director of the Center for Business and Policy Research and professor of public policy at the University of the Pacific, and Kirlin, distinguished professor of public policy and director of the master’s degree programs in public administration and public policy at McGeorge School of Law, write, “Greater clarity and transparency regarding what is proposed, its effects and responsibility for future decisions are needed. As currently proposed, the tunnels are a high-stakes gamble.” Michael/Kirlin op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Marcos Breton: When local cops are in the hot seat, politicians are their best defense — It’s becoming clearer every day why cops are so effectively shielded from consequences whenever their on-duty behavior is called into question here in Sacramento. The stereotypical blue wall of silence? Sure, there’s that. But the more potent force shielding law enforcement – and enabling dubious conduct – is the lawyers retained by local governments and the timid elected officials who do whatever the lawyers say. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Brock Turner sex assault focuses attention on sex registries – When ex-Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner became a registered sex offender for life last Tuesday, he joined a nationwide list of registered sex criminals that has grown dramatically in recent years to more than 800,000. AP article

Police remind residents to be vigilant – Local law enforcement officials are reminding citizens to be vigilant for suspicious activity in light of Sunday representing the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Hanford Sentinel article

Michael Fitzgerald: One year since the killing of an urban pioneer – Tim Egkan, the urban developer who helped to jump-start the city of Stockton’s aching heart, was killed one year ago this Tuesday. He was 32. Egkan’s murder — he was stabbed late at night walking home from a local bar — rocked the city. The case remains open and unsolved. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Antelope Valley residents air grievances about how LA sheriff’s deputies treat minorities — Antelope Valley residents who gathered at a special forum on Saturday offered a mixed assessment of how Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are treating locals after the county approved a settlement with U.S. officials who concluded that the department systematically profiled and harassed racial minorities in the area. LA Times article

Urban Shield police weaponry expo draws protests — The extravaganza of weaponry and law enforcement gadgetry held at the Alameda County Fairgrounds on Friday set off a major protest, as predicted, amid ongoing tension across the country over reports of police violence, including several shootings of African Americans. San Francisco Chronicle article


Too young to remember: Teachers face classrooms of post-9/11 kids — Fifteen years after the terrorist attacks that killed and injured thousands of Americans and launched the “war on terror,” schoolteachers are explaining the event that changed the country to people who weren’t alive to witness it or were too young to remember. Fresno Bee article

15th anniversary of 9/11 a memory and a lesson — For today’s high school students, Sept. 11, 2001, isn’t in their memories. Students currently in grades 10 through 12 were toddlers or infants when the planes crashed into the Twin Towers. The freshmen weren’t even born. Merced Sun-Star article

Help offered for ITT students — Several local colleges have offered to help out the former students of ITT Technical Institute,which abruptly shut down TuesdayFresno Bee article 

Large Sacramento County school districts face absenteeism challenges — Five Sacramento area school districts had more than 26,000 students combined who missed school at least 15 days in the 2013-14 school year, according to a new national report.  Sacramento Bee article

Oakland schools chief: Integration more complicated than you think — The head of Oakland public schools, Antwan Wilson, responded to KQED’s series on segregated schools in a sit-down interview with morning anchor Brian Watt. We wanted to know if he has a plan for trying to make Oakland Unified schools more equitable across racial, ethnic and socioeconomic lines. KQED report

Berkeley parent tells how school integration plan got done: It was like ‘Civil War’ — When Bruce Wicinas’ daughter was about to enter kindergarten, he went to visit his neighborhood elementary school in Berkeley. “It was culture shock,” he said. This was Berkeley in 1990, decades after the city had first integrated its schools in 1968.  Many white parents had left for private schools. KQED report


Mike Dunbar: Day of reckoning for our rivers – After four years, the state is ready to unveil its revised flow targets for the Tuolumne, Stanislaus and Merced rivers; we expect it to be 40 percent immediately, and that’s likely to cause a fight. Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Harvest dust can drive you nuts, but pales next to car exhaust – The almond harvest is upon us, and if you live or drive anywhere near an almond orchard, you know what that means. Dust. And lots of it. Depending on how close that orchard is, dust clouds can blanket your car and leave a layer of muck on your swimming pool. Worse, it could make you sick, or at least leave you coughing and wheezing. Modesto Bee article 

Defying the tides – Four San Francisco projects will test defenses against a growing bay.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Downtown Stockton trash receptacles have solar flair — Cindi Fargo was talking trash the other day, but not in the traditional manner. The director of the Downtown Stockton Alliance was discussing the Thursday morning installation of Stockton’s first two BigBelly Solar trash compacting and recycling units at Janet Leigh Plaza. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services 

Lori Gilbert: Joining forces to fight breast cancer — It’s funny that Jackie Kromm calls Camille Abelt, a nurse with Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, a “force to be reckoned with.” Anyone who has met Kromm, who was raised on Long Island, New York, and who is owner of Theadora in Lincoln Center, would apply the same description. That these two are teaming to raise money to battle breast cancer can only mean cancer had better look out. Gilbert in Stockton Record 

Court documents reveal final details behind brain-dead toddler case — A different courtroom, a different hospital, different doctors. In the end, the verdict was the same. Two weeks ago, the final chapter in Israel Stinson’s young life was closed when a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that the child was brain-dead and could be permanently removed from a ventilator. Hours later, the 2-year-old ceased breathing at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles after being taken off mechanical support. Sacramento Bee article 

First two West Nile virus deaths reported in LA County this year — Health officials have confirmed this year’s first two deaths from West Nile virus in Los Angeles County and are calling on all residents to remain vigilant during peak mosquito season in Southern California. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Jeff Jardine: Hoarder turns once-magical Riverbank yard into eyesore — Huge piles of junk and garbage, old Christmas trees and every other kind of debris imaginable now occupy virtually every inch of space, from the white board fence at the front of the property to the house itself, as a photo from Google Earth’s satellitedepicts. Neighbors complain of rodents and other vermin, and of odors emanating from the lot. Safety officials proclaim it a fire hazard. Stanislaus County’s Department ofEnvironmental Resources last year posted a cleanup order on the property. Jardine column in Modesto Bee


No driver? Bring it on. How Pittsburgh became Uber’s testing ground — Any day now, Uber will introduce a fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, making this former steel town the world’s first city to let passengers hail autonomous vehicles. So with the world watching, what has the city of 306,000 done to prepare for Uber’s unprecedented test? The answer is not much. New York Times article

Other area

9/11 remembered: Firefighters’ jobs not the same – The Record wanted to know how this national tragedy impacted the lives and careers of local firefighters who continue to put themselves at risk for their communities every day, so we went out to the firehouses to talk to some of them. Stockton Record article

District attorney, behavioral health director back Fresno County probation chief — In signed declarations, county administrative officers, the behavioral health director and the district attorney backed Probation Chief Rick Chavez in the battle with Fresno County judges to keep his job. Fresno Bee article

Lois Henry: New Kern County animal shelter vet a ‘game changer’ — It wasn’t more than two minutes between the time I was told about the unique benefits Rebecca Arnold, DVM, has brought to the Kern County Animal Services shelter and I got to see those benefits in action. Arnold, the shelter’s new veterinarian as of Aug. 1, is responsible for the health of nearly 400 animals on any given day. That’s known as herd health. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Finding Mr. Brown: One man’s search for his long-lost fifth-grade teacher — Just as Evans began contemplating how to end all that terror on a Monday morning, his fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Brown, walking up and down the rows of desks in his classroom at Virginia Avenue Elementary, rested his hand on Evans’ shoulder and squeezed. It was a benign gesture, a passing pat on the shoulder, something that Brown probably wouldn’t even recall having done weeks, days or even hours later. But to Evans, it was a life preserver. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian – It was a lousy U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Just watch the advertisements and other political stunts to see why it was a lousy ruling. But that is no excuse for clogging an already clogged ballot with a worthless proposition. That said, if you plan to cast a vote in the Prop. 59 contest, you are urged to vote yes.

Fresno Bee – There is Before 9/11 and After 9/11. Now, 15 years past that dreadful day, we feel the effects, and will for as long as we live.