September 14, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

As California moves to soften criminal penalties, sexual crimes are the exception — If you’ve sold your body, you deserve leniency. If your felony was low-level enough, you deserve to vote. If you sexually assaulted someone, you deserve to go to prison. Such was the message from Sacramento’s Capitol this year, as a trend away from strict law-and-order policies came with a notable exception for sex crimes, prompted by public fury and demands for change. Sacramento Bee article

Gun control initiative has strong support among California voters, poll finds — Nearly two-thirds of California voters support a gun-control initiative on the November ballot, about the same percentage of people who say they don’t have a firearm in their home, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll conducted by SurveyMonkey. LA Times article 

Dan Walters: California against has nation’s highest rate of real poverty — Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators have been crowing about what they did for California’s poorest residents the last few years. However, their failure to confront the heaviest burden on poor families – California’s soaring housing costs – will extend California’s embarrassment of having the nation’s highest rate of real poverty. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State budget

California brings in more money than expected in August — The state of California brought in more money than expected in August, after lagging behind in the four months prior. The California Controller’s office reports revenues came in 5 percent above projections in the state budget. Capital Public Radio report

Gov. Brown  

Final step in $2-billion plan for homeless housing signed by Gov. Brown – State officials received the green light Tuesday for a $2-billion bond project designed to provide new housing for homeless Californians suffering from mental illness. LA Times article 

Tampon, diaper taxes will endure in California — Women buying tampons and parents buying diapers will continue to pay sales taxes on those items thanks to vetoes Gov. Jerry Brown announced on Tuesday. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article 

Gov. Brown to sign climate-change bills in Fresno – Gov. Jerry Brown travels to Fresno on Wednesday to sign four bills that will direct $900 million in cap-and-trade funds into programs that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fresno Bee article 

Jerry Brown is building a home off the grid: One-bedroom, one soaking tub and a solar array — Gov. Jerry Brown, who often weekends at a rustic cabin west of Williams, is moving forward with plans to build an off-the-grid home on the family ranch, submitting drawings to Colusa County officials for a one-bedroom house with a large porch, a wood fireplace and a three-inch conduit running to a solar array. Sacramento Bee article 

Jerry Brown chooses sides in another Dem-on-Dem Senate battle — For the second time in two weeks, Gov. Jerry Brown has waded into a legislative fight between two Democratic candidates. On Tuesday, he extended his usually rare endorsement to state Sen. Jim Beall, who is facing a reelection challenge from Assemblywoman Nora Campos, a fellow San Jose Democrat. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics 

Candidate could be first UC Merced student elected — If one Merced City Council candidate has his way, he’ll be the first UC Merced student elected to office in the schools’ namesake city. Daniel Sabzehzar, 21, kicked off his campaign for District 5 of the City Council inside Jantz Bakery on Monday. The senior studying public health also heads a startup business called Marcom Strategies. Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

$2 cigarette tax hike: Doctors and hospitals fight tobacco industry – Proponents of a ballot measure to add a $2 tax on cigarettes boast that their coalition is broader, more diverse and better funded than past campaigns to raise tobacco taxes. Look at where the money would end up, and it’s not hard to understand why: Up to $1 billion of the new tax revenue goes to Medi-Cal. Sacramento Bee article 

PolitiFact CA: Yes on 55 school claim misses the mark – Recent radio and TV ads claim California’s K-12 public schools face dire cuts if voters fail to approve Proposition 55, a measure on November’s ballot that would extend an income tax hike on wealthy residents. The ads by the Yes on 55 campaign paint a dark picture. They cite past spending cuts that led to thousands of teacher layoffs, eliminated art and music programs and increased class sizes a few years ago.  PoliticFact CA article 

CA120: On the trail of the provisionals — California’s primary election was filled with administrative glitches.  And some of those problems actually may have disenfranchised voters who hoped to vote in a very dramatic presidential primary. Ironically, one of the largest post-election dramas surrounding the June vote in California was how these problems were being resolved. And that brings us to the use of provisional ballots, the subject of the latest CA120 poll. Capitol Weekly article

Other areas 

Legislation inspired by rape case triggers debate — When she was just 13, Norma Hernandez accepted a ride from a man who claimed to know a close family friend. “I trusted him (but) was soon terrified for my life when he drove me away from my home to a grove of almond trees and held me down and raped me,” she said. Hernandez, now a grown woman, shared her story at a news conference in support of Senate Bill 813. It would eliminate the statute of limitations for rape in California. KQED report

Presidential Politics 

Democratic and Republican voters are further apart than they’ve been in a generation.  Here’s why – Barack Obama’s presidency appears to have profoundly shifted the voter coalitions behind the two major parties, with older and blue-collar whites moving to the Republicans as college graduates and secular voters have accelerated their shift to the Democrats. LA Times article 

Steve Lopez: A visit to Trump’s headquarters in Long Beach’s Cambodia Town, of all places, produces some surprising results –  The city is blue. The county is blue. The state is blue. So I was curious. Lopez column in LA Times 

Brik McDill: Hillary and her secrets – How galling it must be for Hillary to every day see herself publicly esteemed at the same level as The Donald. Now that polling data show them to be head-to-head in their race to the bottom of approval and voter endorsement, Hillary Clinton must awake every morning screaming as though from a nightmare. One can only imagine her mortification to be classed with Donald Trump along the lines of public disrepute and rejection. McDill column in Bakersfield Californian 

News Stories

Top Stories

Fresno State’s graduation rate puts school No. 1 in U.S. News and World Report ranking — Fresno State has been named the top public university in the country when it comes to reaching its graduation rate goals, according to the latest rankings from U.S. News and World ReportFresno Bee articleThe Business Journal articleVisalia Times-Delta article 

Median incomes are up and poverty rate is down, surprisingly strong census figures show — The economic recovery is finally providing relief to America’s long-running problem of stagnant middle-class incomes. The Census Bureau’s unexpectedly-rosy annual report on poverty and incomes, released Tuesday, showed the biggest improvement in decades on both fronts. LA Times articleNew York Times articleSacramento Bee editorial

Jobs and the Economy 

Californians still struggling despite income gains shown in census – While U.S. household incomes rose and poverty levels dropped, U.S. census figures released Tuesday show that many Americans — particularly those in high-cost housing states like California — continue to struggle. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Here’s how one program helps get people off food stamps — An award-winning Fresno program led by former business executive Pete Weber could help other communities improve employment and training opportunities for the nation’s neediest, lawmakers suggested Tuesday. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Some retailers already hiring for the holiday rush — Though there’s still a week left of summer, it’s not too early to think about the holiday season, particularly if you’re looking for a Christimastime job. Retailers soon will be starting the hiring process, if they haven’t already. Target announcedthis week that it would hire 70,000 people nationwide for seasonal jobs. A quick look at its employment site shows seasonal positions available locally at sites in Modesto, Riverbank and Turlock. Modesto Bee article

San Joaquin County supervisors hope local workers build new hospital wing — The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors has pledged to ensure a large number of local laborers will be working on a long-anticipated project to replace an aging wing at San Joaquin General Hospital next year. Supervisors on Tuesday voted 3-2 to consider a project labor agreement at their next meeting that would encourage a certain percentage of employees working on the hospital project be hired locally. Stockton Record article 

San Francisco controller’s report recommends affordable housing requirements – City Controller Ben Rosenfield released a long-awaited report on Tuesday that weighs in on one of the wonkiest but important policy questions before the city: What is the maximum amount of affordable housing the city should require developers to sell and rent without jeopardizing overall housing construction? San Francisco Chronicle article 

Wells Fargo is eliminating retail sales goals after settlement over aggressive tactics — Wells Fargo & Co. said Tuesday that it would eliminate all sales goals for credit cards, checking accounts and other retail banking products as the financial giant tries to repair its image following a $185-million settlement over aggressive sales tactics. LA Times article 

U-Haul making a move on long-vacant Target building – Bakersfield’s city zoning board green-lighted a key permit Tuesday that paves the way for the sale of a long-vacant southwest Target building to U-Haul, which will convert it into a truck rental and storage facility. Bakersfield Californian article 

LA County sets stage for potential March ballot measure to fund services for the homeless — Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to hold a countywide election in March, possibly setting the table for a sales tax initiative to fund homeless services. LA Times article 

‘Undersupply of Lunchables’ leads Kraft Heinz to keep Fullerton plant open, saving hundreds of jobs – Kraft Heinz Co. said Tuesday that it would keep its Fullerton plant open, reversing plans to shutter the facility and saving about 360 jobs. LA Times article 

MPAA blasts USC over film tax credit report — The lobbying arm for the major Hollywood studios is taking aim at USC over a report that casts doubt on the effectiveness of film tax credits. LA Times article 

Supervisor Campos: Mission homeless tents gone in 4 months — San Francisco Supervisor David Campos announced on Monday that within four months all of the homeless encampments in the Mission District would be dismantled. KQED report 

SpaceX say rocket launches could resume as early as November – SpaceX said it expects to resume launches as soon as November, avoiding a lengthy delay after its Sept. 1 launch pad explosion grounded flights and destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and a communications satellite. LA Times article 

Rams reach deal with LA city officials to pay for stadium security – Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke has agreed to pay for security provided by Los Angeles police officers at football games, ending weeks of confusion over who should pick up the bill for police patrols for L.A.’s renascent NFL franchise. LA Times article


Latest northeast Fresno water results show lead in 286 homes – The number of northeast Fresno homes in which tests reveal lead in the water coming from faucets has climbed to almost 300, including nearly 120 in which lead levels exceed the acceptable threshold set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Fresno Bee article

Northeast Fresno water problem spills into supervisors meeting – When Fresno County supervisors began discussing water problems in northeast Fresno on Tuesday, their stated intention was to learn the county health department’s role in assisting the city of Fresno. But with Supervisor Henry Perea running for Fresno mayor and Supervisor Andreas Borgeas, whose district includes northeast Fresno, supporting Perea’s opponent, Lee Brand, it didn’t take long for the discussion to segue into politics. Fresno Bee article

San Joaquin farmworkers gather to celebrate new overtime law – Local members of the United Farm Workers of America gathered in a downtown Stockton office building Tuesday evening to celebrate the signing of a bill that will entitle agricultural laborers to the same overtime pay as most other hourly workers. Stockton Record article

Report lists arsenic violations at schools, other facilities in Kings — Five Kings County water systems have violated federal arsenic standards at some point during the last five years, according to a report released Tuesday by the Environmental Integrity Project. Hanford Sentinel article 

Lois Henry: Dry wells in Rosedale get help but make me wonder — I checked in with Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District recently to see how its “dry well” program was going. It’s steady. Meaning the agricultural water district is still getting a steady influx of claims from owners of wells that have gone dry. Not because of the drought, per se. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Stockton Record: Mayor’s push for another police review panel self-serving, desperate – Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva’s self-serving approach to “governing” this city continues to be transparent: Divide and attempt to conquer. His latest: Stating the city needs a Citizen Police Review Board. Stat. Stockton Record editorial 

Deputies will target trash scavengers in Fig Garden pilot program — Fresno County supervisors on Tuesday approved a pilot program to reduce trash scavenging in the Fig Garden area by having Fresno County sheriff’s deputies patrol for it. Fresno Bee article 

Sacramento police chief Sam Somers Jr. will leave in December — Sacramento Police Department Chief Sam Somers announced his retirement today onTwitter. Somers will retire Dec. 9, according to an email sent to city staff by City Manager John Shirey, who appointed Somers in February 2013. Somers cited family reasons for his departure. Sacramento Bee article 

Officer-involved shooting leaves Delhi man’s widow with questions – A photo posted on social media started the fight. He accused her of cheating and she tried to tell him he was wrong. She told him they should live separately and he began to beat her. When their frightened 16-year-old daughter said she was calling the police, Araceli Garcia said, “Yeah, OK.” Merced Sun-Star article 

Kelsey’s proposal for sheriff’s substation two years too late – With Merced County budget hearings coming up at the end of the month, District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey proposed on Tuesday that the sheriff’s substation in Delhi be opened full time. The only problem with that proposal, Sheriff Vern Warnke said, is that the Delhi substation was reopened full time two years ago. Merced Sun-Star article

Arambula secures $4 million grant for Selma police HQ – Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) was joined by Selma officials Tuesday to announce a $4 million grant for construction of a new police station. The Business Journal article 

Patrick Kennedy: Just trying to provoke a reaction on cop behavior – The Sacramento County supervisor writes, “In his column, ‘Turning a blind eye on cop behavior’ (Local, Sept. 11), Marcos Breton appears to be trying to provoke a reaction from his audience without digging deeper to find the facts.” Kennedy op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

2 LAPD officers charged with covering up DUI crash, taking the driver home and filing false police report — Two Los Angeles police officers have been charged with covering up a crash involving a drunken driver and later filing a false police report, prosecutors say. LA Times article 

LA’s newest police commissioner calls for a deep analysis of racial profiling accusations — Los Angeles’ newest police commissioner called for a deep analysis Tuesday of how the LAPD handles complaints alleging racial profiling, an issue that has long stirred frustration among some residents and members of the police oversight panel. LA Times article


UC Merced finally gets some respect in rankings of nation’s best colleges – The University of California’s youngest, smallest and least-prestigious campus finally got some big-time respect, when a closely watched list of the nation’s best universities included UC Merced for the first time. LA Times articleMerced Sun-Star article 

U.S. News finds a lot to like in region’s universities – The U.S. News 2017 Best Colleges rankings, out Tuesday, gave a tall thumbs up to area universities, particularly for their success with underserved students. California State University, Stanislaus placed 14th on the Top Public Schools in the West list and 61st overall in regional rankings of the magazine. The nod marks the 11th consecutive year the Turlock university has earned a spot on the U.S. News lists. Modesto Bee article 

Six UCs rank top in the country, despite problems – UC Berkeley ranked No. 1 for the 15th year in a row, followed by UCLA at No. 2, UC Santa Barbara at No. 8 and UC Irvine at No. 9. UC San Diego and UC Davis tied for the No. 10 spot with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. KQED report 

UC begins classes with the most diverse student body ever – It’s official: the University of California is set to enroll its most diverse class ever, with nearly 8,000 more Californians committing to one of the system’s nine undergraduate campuses. LA Times article 

Carole Goldsmith: Stranded by ITT? Community colleges can help – The president of Fresno City College writes, “Fresno City College is doing everything within its power to provide a quality education and an opportunity for a better future for all students. I believe we all can agree on the power that education has to transform lives. The students who enrolled at ITT believed in that as well. Everyone at SCCCD is dedicated to providing each student the opportunity to succeed.” Goldsmith op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Author: 30 million word gap key problem in early childhood development – Back in the 1990’s researchers discovered something that has wide ranging impacts to anyone interested in early childhood development. Children who grow up in families struggling with poverty hear 30 million fewer words by age 3 than those who grow up in more affluent homes. KVPR report 

Los Banos school trustee calls for censure of Tommy Jones – One Los Banos school trustee is calling for a board censure of fellow trustee Tommy Jones following allegations that Jones was involved in a corrupt scheme in relation to a $7 million construction project. Los Banos Enterprise article 

State board approves new accountability system – The State Board of Education approved a new school accountability system last week, and local school districts are pleased with its new direction. The new system will evaluate schools and districts using a variety of measures like graduation, attendance rates, suspension rates, progress of English learners and college and career readiness rather than just test scores. Hanford Sentinel article 

UC names search committee to find new Davis chancellor — The University of California Office of the President named a committee Tuesday to help find a new chancellor to replace Linda P.B. Katehi, who resigned last month as UC Davis leader under a cloud of controversy. Sacramento Bee article

UC Berkeley suspends controversial course on Palestine — UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks took the rare action Tuesday of suspending a course after civil rights groups and others complained that its purpose was to indoctrinate students into a single political viewpoint. San Francisco Chronicle article

Why Oakland students leave for schools in other cities — John Foster and Sara Diamond didn’t leave the Oakland Unified School District because they were unhappy with their school choices. They say they wanted an alternative to Oakland schools for practical reasons. Foster worked in San Francisco, where his daughter Claire’s day care was also located.  So father and daughter had a routine of commuting together from East Oakland. KQED report


With such dry conditions, larger and larger air tankers aid in the firefight – Due to such dry conditions here in California wildfires in recent memory have burned enormous portions of forest. Think the Rim Fire that destroyed 400 square miles and the Rough Fire that torched about half of that. These blazes require thousands of firefighters and new resources like air very large air tankers. And as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports these large plans can hold 10 times as much as the older planes. KVPR report 

Southern California Gas to pay $4-million settlement over massive Porter Ranch gas leak — Southern California Gas Co. agreed to a $4-million settlement Tuesday to end a criminal case filed by Los Angeles County prosecutors over the utility’s handling of the massive gas leak near Porter Ranch last year. LA Times article 

Odds grow of major quake in bay region by 2043 — The odds are mounting once again that more destructive earthquakes will hit the bay region within the next 30 years. There’s now a 72 percent probability — which means the odds are nearly 3 to 1 — that one or more quakes with a magnitude of 6.7 or greater will strike along one of the region’s faults in the San Andreas Fault system before 2043, the experts have calculated. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Outdoorsy, Episode 1 – Mineral King, Sequoia National Park’s hidden gem — Yay! You made it to Outdoorsy. This is Valley Public Radio’s new podcast, in which we explore wild places in California and interview the people who enjoy them. KVPR report

Health/Human Services  

California halves medically uninsured rate to 8.6 percent — California’s vigorous embrace of Obamacare, particularly its sharp expansion of Medi-Cal coverage for the poor, has has reduced the state’s medically uninsured population by half, a new Census Bureau report says. Sacramento Bee article 

Stress, sleeplessness, anxiety: How violence in the Valley is causing a kind of PTSD — In the first part of a series on the health impacts of violence in the community, Valley Public Radio introduced you to the family of a mentally ill man fatally shot by police. His case is an extreme example but the mental and physical health impacts of violence can be seen in more subtle ways too. Now some people are now comparing violence in the valley with a well-known condition often connected to war. KVPR report 

Making mental health cool, a look inside Demi Lovato’s wellness workshops — Pop singer Demi Lovato is known for being outspoken about her past problems with addiction and bipolar disorder. And now Lovato’s taking what she’s learned on tour with her and letting her fans in on a secret. FM89’s Ezra David Romero attended Lovato’s concert in San Jose last month to get in on that info. KVPR report 

Food Commons Fresno taking healthy food into neighborhood using mobile roduce carts – An organization whose goal is to create and support a better local food system is stepping up its efforts to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to Fresno’s neighborhoods. Fresno Bee article 

San Joaquin General Hospital trauma center status in jeopardy — San Joaquin General Hospital has been put on notice that its official designation as a trauma center is in jeopardy if it does not comply with mandated standards by Oct. 10. The hospital’s top administrator said Tuesday everything possible is being done to meet that deadline. Stockton Record article

Court questions whether Berkeley cell phone law goes too far – A federal appeals court questioned during a hearing Tuesday whether the city of Berkeley is unduly discouraging customers from buying cell phones by requiring retailers to warn them about the possible radiation effects of carrying switched-on phones close to their bodies. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Netflix documentary features heartbreaking end-of-life care decisions at an Oakland hospital — A new Netflix documentary short called Extremis, which is Latin for “at the point of death,” follows doctors, patients and their loved ones in various end-of-life scenarios that play out at the intensive care unit at Oakland’s Highland Hospital. KQED report 

Land Use/Housing 

Stanislaus County could legalize wedding venues on agricultural land — Stanislaus County planners are considering a new proposal for allowing outdoor wedding venues in agricultural areas. Modesto Bee article 


Feds award Meadows Field $12.5 million for runway work — The U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Meadows Field a grant for the second phase of a three-phase, $49 million runway project, the office of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Kern supervisors vote to put county parks under CAO’s control – Kern County’s Parks and Recreation Department will become a part of the Kern County Administrative Office’s General Services Division amid an overall effort to streamline government. Bakersfield Californian article 

Dispensary urges Tulare supervisors to reconsider ordinance — Representatives from a Goshen marijuana dispensary urged county supervisors to reconsider a local ordinance that bans the opening of new or expansion of current locations. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Fireworks issue touches off heated debate from both sides – There are at least two sides to every story, and in the case of the proliferation of Fourth of July fireworks in Stockton, resident Lanny Bauer may understand the opposing viewpoints just about as well as anybody. Stockton Record article 

DC trip is nice, veterans say — but just wait till they get back home — At age 84, Larry Johnson still remembers being a young boy while his father was serving in World War II. But what he remembers even more clearly is what happened about six years later, a week after he turned 17: His father signed him up to serve in the Korean War. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Finding Mr. Brown, Part 2: Man’s search for teacher takes twists, turns — Until last week, Dean Evans didn’t even know Brown’s first name. That’s when I asked Fairfax School District Superintendent Michael Coleman to rifle through class rosters from the early 1960s. He called a couple of days later with a name: Harold L. Brown. That’s when things began getting strange. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Hillary Clinton’s overriding ailment is penchant for secrecy. 

Modesto Bee – The new iPhone 7 has Apple’s most sophisticated encryption technology; but should law enforcement be locked out forever?

Sacramento Bee – Americans have waited too long for economic news as good as Tuesday’s: Last year, for the first time since the Great Recession, incomes rose for the middle class; Taking nonviolent stands in pursuit of justice is always the right thing to do. But in social activism, as in sports, there are always winners and losers.

Stockton Record – Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva’s self-serving approach to “governing” this city continues to be transparent: Divide and attempt to conquer. His latest: Stating the city needs a Citizen Police Review Board. Stat.