September 12, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories 

Field Poll: Death penalty support slips in California – Support for the death penalty in California is at its lowest point in nearly 50 years, although more than half of the state’s registered voters still favor it, a new Field Poll has found. The poll found 56 percent still believe the death penalty should be kept as a punishment for serious crimes, with 34 percent opposed and 10 percent undecided.  Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article 

Only 1 in 4 likely voters can identify Gov. Jerry Brown’s opponent – Just two months before Election Day, Gov. Jerry Brown holds a commanding lead in his bid for an unprecedented fourth term — and only one in four likely California voters can even identify his Republican challenger, Neel Kashkari, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times pollLA Times article 

Dan Walters: Peterson may have best shot at GOP win this year – If Republicans have any chance this year of winning statewide office in this blue state, it probably rests on the shoulders of Pete Peterson, who’s running for secretary of state, or Ashley Swearengin, the GOP candidate for state controller. That said, the odds against Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno, lengthened when Betty Yee, a member of the Board of Equalization, bested John A. Pérez, the former speaker of the Assembly, in a June primary duel that it took a partial vote recount to resolve.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

San Joaquin County supervisor candidates Munson, Winn talk with taxpayers group – The San Joaquin County Taxpayers Association on Thursday threw questions at two candidates vying for a seat on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, which holds sway over about $1.3 billion taxpayer dollars in its annual budget.  Stockton Record article

Bob Smith: Doing what’s best for your ward – and the city overall – The Bakersfield councilmember, who is running for re-election, writes, “I believe being a good council member means that you are attentive to the specific needs of your ward, while also having and working on the greater vision for the community.” Smith op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Six Californias measure may fall short of ballot –  A revolutionary initiative to split California into six separate states was balanced on a knife’s edge Thursday, still well short of the verified signatures it needs to have even a chance of making the 2016 ballot.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Bowen’s depression revelation shifts secretary of state race – Complaints about slow election results, inadequate campaign finance reporting and archaic business-registration processes have dominated the campaign for California secretary of state, but until last weekend, those debates attracted the usual level of attention for a down-ballot race – not much.  San Francisco Chronicle articleSacramento Bee editorial

Candidates for California elections chief tout experience – Republican Pete Peterson and Democrat Alex Padilla, the two candidates for California secretary of state, promised Thursday at a Sacramento forum to shake up a post that has been criticized for falling behind the times.  Capitol AlertLA Times article

Foes raise more than $92 million over two ballot measures – Led by medical insurers, opponents of two November ballot initiatives aimed at regulating insurance rates, raising the limits on pain-and-suffering awards and requiring doctors to be drug tested have raised nearly $92 million from their largest donors, according to figures compiled by the state’s political watchdog. Capitol Weekly article

Other areas

Dan Walters Daily: Will water bond measure have serious opposition – California’s water bond measure is the most important issue on the November ballot, Dan says. What kind of opposition will it face?  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Maria Shriver scrubbed from Schwarzenegger’s portrait – There was one detail easily overlooked in this week’s unveiling of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s official portrait in the state Capitol — his estranged wife, Maria Shriver. Or at least her image — which, it turns out, was painted over.  San Francisco Chronicle articleCapitol Alert

Sacramento Bee:  Drone regulation, EpiPens in schools and other worthy bills – Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk is covered with legislation that he must sign, veto or throw away. Much of it is, frankly, drivel. But there are some prizes there, as well. Here some bills that are worthy of his signature.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Senators Boxer and Feinstein urge NFL to ban players who commit violence against women – In a letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell, 16 female senators urge the NFL to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for players who assault women.  KPCC report

U.S. threatened Yahoo with big fines for not divulging user data – The federal government once threatened to fine Yahoo $250,000 a day for not complying with a national security-related request to hand over user data, the company said Thursday.  LA Times articleAP article

Americans conflicted about more war as they remember 9/11 – As Americans paused Thursday to remember those who died in the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil, they also confronted the possibility that the 13 exhausting years of war that followed may not be ending soon.  McClatchy Newspapers article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Forecaster projects faster California economic growth in 2015 – California’s economy continues to grow at a “moderate” pace that should accelerate in 2015, according to the latest quarterly report from the University of the Pacific.  Sacramento Bee articleStockton Record article

State considers more condemnations for Valley high-speed rail route – Five more properties in Fresno are set for possible condemnation by the state Public Works Board to make way for California’s high-speed rail project. Meeting Friday in Sacramento in the state Capitol, the board will consider resolutions declaring the need to use eminent domain to acquire the sites.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

UOP Business Forecasting Center:  Stockton bankruptcy trial outcome ‘very uncertain’ – The University of the Pacific Business Forecasting Center weighs in on the potential outcome of Stockton’s bankruptcy trial.  Stockton Record article

Bankrupt San Bernardino can cut firefighter benefits, judge says – The city of San Bernardino, California, may impose cuts to its firefighters overtime and pension benefits in a bid to reach a bankruptcy exit plan, the federal judge overseeing the case said on Thursday.  Reuters article

Retirees seeking Kern pension boost – Retired Kern County and special district employees could be poised for a benefit increase. On Thursday, a committee of the Kern County Employees’ Retirement Association board debated how millions in excess funds in KCERA’s controversial Supplemental Retiree Benefit Reserve should be spent.  Bakersfield Californian article

City Beat: Bakersfield council has high hopes for Hosking-99 interchange – Southwest development — and arguably netting a Bass Pro Shops franchise — took a big step forward Wednesday when the Bakersfield City Council unanimously approved building a freeway interchange at Highway 99 and Hosking Avenue.  Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento Siemens plant to build Florida high-speed rail cars – The Siemens plant in south Sacramento will build the locomotives and passenger cars for All Aboard Florida, a high-speed rail system that could begin operation well ahead of California’s.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Sacramento housing market continues to cool off – Sacramento’s housing market continued to cool off in August, with fewer properties changing hands and prices holding steady from the month before.  Sacramento Bee article

August slowdown hits Bay Area housing market after red-hot year – After a red-hot start to the year, the Bay Area’s housing market is heading toward a fall and winter hibernation that should be easier for buyers battered by frenzied competition for a scant supply of homes for sale.  San Jose Mercury News article

Judge reverses part of Sacramento arena suit tentative ruling – A judge has ruled the people suing the City of Sacramento over the downtown arena project may continue with their claim the city engaged in fraud.  Capital Public Radio report

Garcetti considering ballot measure to halt tax opposed by businesses– Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Thursday he and other elected officials are exploring the possibility of a ballot measure that would eliminate the city’s tax on business receipts and replace it with a different tax on companies.  LA Times article

Nevada lawmakers approve $1.3 billion tax break for electric car maker Tesla – Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a package of bills on Thursday to provide $1.3 billion in tax breaks and other incentives for Tesla Motors, putting a bow on the deal for the electric car company to build a massive factory in the state.  Reuters articleAP article

Svenhard’s sells Oakland plant for Exeter base – Svenhard’s Swedish Bakery has sold its 5.14-acre Oakland plant along busy Highway 880 for new development and will utilize some of the $8 million in proceeds to relocate all operations to Exeter in Tulare County.  The Business Journal article

BART directors pledge to improve rocky relations with workers – BART directors, following a stinging report on the agency’s 2013 labor negotiations, vowed Thursday to change the transit agency’s long-troubled relationship between its unionized workers and its management – and to begin immediately.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California rocket company to move to Texas – A company filled with rocket scientists has bought in to Texas’ push to promote itself as a business-friendly, anti-regulation locale. The Austin American-Statesman reports that Firefly Space Systems of Hawthorne, California, on Wednesday confirmed its relocation to the Austin area.  AP article


Despite drought, California pistachio crop expected to swell – California’s drought may slow the growth of the rapidly expanding pistachio industry, but even with less water, farmers are expected to produce a whopping 1 billion-pound crop by 2019, a Rabobank analyst said Thursday.  Fresno Bee article

Western governors group forms drought study forum – Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval says that as chairman of the Western Governors’ Association he wants to bring states together to talk about how best to manage and prepare for drought.  AP article

McNerney bill would bar federal money from Delta plan – U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, has introduced a bill to block any federal money from being used for the state’s twin tunnels project. The water users who stand to benefit are expected to pay for the tunnels themselves.  Stockton Record article

California drought: 5-mph speed limit imposed on boats at Folsom Lake – With water levels at Folsom Lake down sharply, officials are imposing a 5-mph speed limit for boaters in the latest sign of California’s extreme drought conditions. California State Parks officials say the low speed limit is needed to reduce safety risks in what has become a much smaller pool of water to navigate in.  LA Times article

Group pressures Foster Farms to address antibiotics – Foster Farms had just re-opened its main plant in Central California after a cockroach infestation, but federal inspectors were already writing-up new violations at the sprawling poultry-processing facility.  LA Times articleWashington Post article

Wayne Kirkbride:  In Southern California, they don’t care about drought – The Twain Harte resident writes, “I might as well have been in Idaho or Utah, where plentiful rainfall has assured those citizens that water conservation is just a concept not pertinent to them. But here I was in the city of La Mirada, in Los Angeles County, visiting relatives and becoming dismayed and angry at what I observed.” Kirkbride op-ed in Modesto Bee

Empire couple’s penalties dropped in Modesto Irrigation District water theft accusations – Penalties were reversed Thursday for an Empire couple accused of stealing water from the Modesto Irrigation District. Others who also say they are innocent continue to negotiate.  Modesto Bee article

Suit alleges Sacramento rice cooperative sold low-grade rice as premium – A class action suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court alleges that the Sacramento-based Farmers Rice Cooperative misrepresented the rice it sold to rice brokers, retailers and sushi restaurants.  Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Lost weapons prompt halt of military gear to some sheriff’s departments – The San Mateo and Napa County sheriff’s departments are suspended from a federal program that provides hand-me-down military equipment to law enforcement agencies because the departments are unable to account for some missing assault weapons.  KQED report

LA Sheriff’s Department makes some violent crimes appear more serious –  An initial review of crime statistics at the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released Thursday found that the agency tends to overstate violent crime. An audit of 240 assaults from six sheriff’s stations found that department personnel misclassified more than 31% of minor assaults as serious offenses, while incorrectly filing about 3% of serious attacks as minor ones.  LA Times article

Hanford Police Department gets new electric motorcycles – The Hanford Police Department rolled out its new electric motorcycles Wednesday, making it the first law enforcement agency in Kings County to have environmental friendly vehicles. With the help of a $100,000 grant from the San Joaquin Valley Air District, two battery powered Zero Motorcycles were purchased for the department from Eckhaus Fleet, a distributing company based out of Clovis.  Hanford Sentinel article

Chowchilla police, fire: We need new dispatch system – An aging emergency system here has police and fire officials looking at making a purchase that was not budgeted for this fiscal year.  Merced Sun-Star article

ACLU, others ask Pennsylvania to name makers of death penalty drugs – The American Civil Liberties Union and four newspapers have asked a federal judge to unseal court records in an attempt to learn where Pennsylvania corrections officials purchased the drugs that will be used to execute a death row inmate later this month, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday.  LA Times article

Report: San Diego police staffing problem growing worse – It’s been well-reported that the San Diego Police Department has been struggling to keep officers from leaving, but a new report shows the situation is getting worse. City Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin said in a report released Thursday the average number of San Diego officers leaving the department each month is now nearly triple the rate in 2010. From July to September, 29 officers have left the department, she said.  KPBS report

Arrest warrant issued for former Madera County Supervisor Harry Baker – A warrant for former Madera County Supervisor Harry Baker’s arrest was issued Thursday after he failed to appear for a court hearing in his long-running child molestation case.  Fresno Bee article

Morse pleads not guilty to murder charge – The son of the Merced County district attorney pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder, nearly two months after his arrest.  Merced Sun-Star article


Truancy rates are higher among California’s low-income students, report says – Across California, truancy rates for students from low-income backgrounds were disproportionately higher than for their more affluent peers during the 2013-14 school year, according to a report released Thursday.  LA Times article

‘Steve’s Scholars’ kicks off third year at Tehipite Middle in Fresno – Francine and Murray Farber kicked off the third year of “Steve’s Scholars” on Thursday with a special assembly at Tehipite Middle School. The Farbers launched Steve’s Scholars in 2012, providing a $1 million endowment fund from the estate of their son, Steven, for a scholarship program in his memory. Steven, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, passed away at age 42.  Fresno Bee article

School board association leaders tour area campuses – After a tour Thursday of two local high school campuses and an elementary school, two top state educational leaders were impressed with what they saw and encouraged about the future of learning here.  Merced Sun-Star article

LA Unified’s Deasy seeks records of board members’ tech-firm contacts –  In a bold challenge to his bosses, L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy has filed a public records request seeking emails and other documents involving school board members and nearly two dozen companies including those at the center of the controversial iPad project.  LA Times article

Students to shadow Tulare County workers – Hundreds of Tulare County employees will have somebody looking over their shoulders next month. Those somebodies will be high school juniors and seniors from across the county taking part in the first “Explore Your Future” project put on by members of the Tulare County Leadership Academy.  Visalia Times-Delta article

School official questions need for armored truck – A San Diego Unified school board trustee raised questions Thursday about the district’s latest acquisition — a mine-resistant armored truck — after learning about the government-donated vehicle on social media this week.  U-T San Diego article


Half Dome cables reopen Saturday, but Yosemite fire still growing – Yosemite National Park announced Thursday that the Half Dome cables that have been off-limits since Sunday because of the Meadow fire will reopen for use Saturday.  Fresno Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Obama declares Napa earthquake major disaster – President Barack Obama declared a major disaster in California on Thursday because of last month’s Napa Valley earthquake, releasing emergency federal funding for the state.  AP article

FBI: Attack on PG&E South Bay substation not terrorism – The mysterious rifle attack on a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. substation near San Jose last year has been called a sophisticated terrorist strike, executed by a team of snipers, possibly as a trial run for a larger assault on the nation’s power grid. Only it doesn’t meet the FBI’s definition of terrorism, a top agent with the bureau said Tuesday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California’s earthquake early warning system is ready to get started – The South Napa earthquake that occurred on August 24 was on everyone’s mind as the Third International Conference on Earthquake Early Warning convened last week in Berkeley. The meeting was a powerful show of scientific and political momentum as California prepares to lead the United States into a brave new world in which we’ll get second-by-second countdowns in advance of dangerous earthquake shaking. KQED report

Environmentalists sue over crude-by-oil safety – The environmental group Earthjustice is suing the U.S. Department of Transportation over the safety of the rail cars used to carry crude oil to California and around the country. Old tank cars, known as DOT-111s, have been involved in a number of fiery accidents.  KQED report

California plans nation’s most detailed sea level database – To help adapt to the increased flood-risks affecting people and property in these landscapes, the Golden State is about to compile the nation’s most elaborate sea level rise planning database.  The task won’t be easy.  KQED report

Mountain lion reports raise concerns in Northern San Joaquin Valley – A mountain lion appears to have killed a horse near Hilmar. Other sightings of the big cats have been reported in Modesto and other locales well out of the animal’s natural range.  Modesto Bee article

Lodi wastewater plant fixing digester problem – The discovery of eroding steel lids on two massive waste processing units at the White Slough treatment plant will cost Lodi more than $2 million and puts plant operations tenuously close to being out of state compliance.  Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services

Stanislaus County to strengthen mental health services for foster youth – To comply with a landmark court settlement, Stanislaus County will bolster mental health and support services for foster children who struggle with emotional problems.  Modesto Bee article

Fracking workers exposed to dangerous amounts of benzene, study says – Some workers at oil and gas sites where fracking occurs are routinely exposed to high levels of benzene, a colorless gas that can cause cancer, according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety.  LA Times article

Wealthy Hollywood parents aren’t vaccinating their children – A Hollywood Reporter article reveals that vaccination rates at Los Angeles daycares, preschools and kindergartens are dropping dramatically as the number of whooping cough cases in the county reaches alarming highs. Taking a close look at school immunization records submitted to the state, the publication finds that ritzier schools favored by the entertainment-industry elite have the highest numbers of families opting to exempt their kids from shots.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Land Use/Housing

Mapping Stockton’s future – If neighborhoods are the hearts of cities, then they should be places where residents can walk, safely ride bicycles and take care of all daily needs without having to venture too far from home. So say Stockton’s planners, but they also recognize that in too many parts of the city, complete neighborhoods are much more a dream than a reality.  Stockton Record article

Audit finds flaws in state affordable housing spending – Some voter-approved funds for affordable housing have been put to questionable uses, including projects that don’t fulfill the promise to voters, because of poor oversight by the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), an audit said Thursday.  LA Times article


Report: Bad roads cost Californians billions – Poorly maintained highways and major roads cost Californians an extra $44 billion each year in repairs, accidents and time and fuel burned in traffic, according to a report issued Thursday by a transportation advocacy group. AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Merced County loses out on transportation grant – Though an official announcement has not come from the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday congratulated the six regions in the state that were awarded money. Merced County’s request for $13 million to use on Campus Parkway in Merced was not on the list.  Merced Sun-Star article

BNSF to kill Fresno-Chicago freight rail service – Railroad operator BNSF announced it is ending its intermodal rail service out of Fresno, discontinuing weekly service to Chicago effective Dec. 8.  The Business Journal article

Other Areas

Proposed Fresno pot-smoking ban extinguished by council – Fresno has all the rules it needs to ensure everyone sees eye-to-eye on marijuana, the City Council has decided. Much of the council on Thursday responded with scorn to Council Member Lee Brand’s proposal to give city officials more authority to stop the smoking of marijuana on city-owned property.  Fresno Bee article

New Madera County fine for illegal marijuana cultivation: $250 per plant – Madera County’s amended marijuana-growing ordinance goes into effect Friday and includes increased fines for those deemed to be out of compliance. Sheriff John Anderson said enforcement will be swift.  Fresno Bee article

Valley pauses to remember 9/11 –Communities throughout the San Joaquin Valley joined the nation Thursday to mark the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2011, terror attack.  Fresno Bee articleBakersfield Californian articleVisalia Times-Delta articleModesto Bee article

Modesto News: Don’t fear the red-light cameras – Drivers who run a red light at a Modesto intersection equipped with red-light cameras don’t have to worry about getting a citation in the mail. Though the news just came to light, the Police Department suspended the program for six months starting in mid-May.  Modesto Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: On the mayor, wanting more power – The mayor’s authority, or lack of it, is clearly spelled out in the city charter. Silva’s dismay suggests he never actually read up on the mayor’s role before running for the office of mayor. In a sustained seance of magic thinking, he refuses to accept that Stockton’s council-manager form of government vests power with a council majority and with the city manager. Fitzgerald blog in Stockton Record

Neal calls for new Lemoore mayor –  Lemoore City Councilman Eddie Neal says the city needs a new mayor, citing comments Mayor Billy Siegel recently directed at a Lemoore senior, as well as comments aimed at Neal himself.  Hanford Sentinel article

Firebaugh celebrates 100 years with history, entertainment – Sgt. Sal Raygoza of the Firebaugh Police Department has been in charge of planning the celebration. He said it came together with about $60,000 in donations, including donated services, and no city money. Raygoza expects up to 5,000 people to show up each day.  Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  Speak out: It’s time to put an end to abuse.

Fresno Bee – With video cameras in every space and most hands, it’s less possible to get away with perpetrating vileness on each other. Sometimes, loss of privacy is not a bad thing; President Obama’s immigration reform retreat shows a lack of courage.

Merced Sun-Star – Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk is covered with legislation that he must sign, veto or throw away. Much of it is, frankly, drivel. But there are some prizes there, as well. Here some bills that are worthy of his signature.

Modesto Bee – Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk is covered with legislation that he must sign, veto or throw away. Much of it is, frankly, drivel. But there are some prizes there, as well. Here some bills that are worthy of his signature.

Sacramento Bee – Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk is covered with legislation that he must sign, veto or throw away. Much of it is, frankly, drivel. But there are some prizes there, as well. Here some bills that are worthy of his signature; What Debra Bowen’s struggle with mental illness tells us.