September 15, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

Education groups propose initiative to extend Prop 30 income taxes until 2030 — With California’s Proposition 30 income tax hikes expiring in 2018, a coalition of education and other groups on Monday filed an initiative for next year’s ballot to temporarily extend those taxes on some of the wealthiest residents. Sacramento Bee articleCapital Public Radio report

California voters sharply disagree on low-cost healthcare for immigrants — California voters are sharply divided over whether free or low-cost health insurance should be granted to those who reside in the state without legal status, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll. LA Times article


Gov. Brown 

Jerry Brown warns of massive migration in California if global warming continues — Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday that his legislative setbacks on climate change last week should be viewed “not in terms of me,” warning California will endure European-style effects of mass migration if the state fails to act on global warming. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

Jerry Brown calls fast-moving wildfires’ scary’ — Gov. Jerry Brown said Monday that the wildfires sweeping through large portions of the state are “scary” because unusually dry conditions are causing them to spread at extraordinary rates. LA Times articleJohn Myers in KQED


Valley politics

Quintero, Ronquillo both say they’ll seek Perea’s supervisor seat — Dan Ronquillo and Sal Quintero were Fresno City Council colleagues from 1995 to 2002 and adversaries in the 2000 mayoral election that was eventually won by Alan Autry. Now, more than a dozen years later, that shared political history will once again intersect. Both men say they will seek the Fresno County supervisor seat currently held by Henry R. Perea. Fresno Bee article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

GOP lawmakers seek review of green energy ballot initiative – Assembly Republicans are seeking a state audit into how money from a green energy ballot initiative is being spent. They cite an Associated Press report last month that found only 1,700 jobs have been created in the three years since voters approved Proposition 39 after voters were told it would create 11,000 jobs annually. AP article 

John Bolton will replace Scott Walker at California GOP gathering — What’s the California Republican Party to do when its convention headliner backs out at the last minute? Book John Bolton, who thought about running for president next year – but ultimately decided not to. Sacramento Bee article



Venture capitalists’ top policy priority: Immigration reform – The No. 1 issue that politicians must tackle now? According to a survey of venture capitalists based in the U.S., it’s immigration reform. LA Times article

Gavin Newsom trashes Trump’s immigration plan — Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a candidate for governor in 2018, launched an animated web video Monday blasting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump‘s immigration plan, as Trump prepares to visit California for Wednesday’s GOP debate. Political Blotter


Other areas

Democrats torn between shiny new ventures and old-school allies – Tension over the so-called “sharing economy” has been on full display in Sacramento, with Democrats who control the Legislature facing mounting pressure. On one side are trendy tech ventures that are gearing up their political lobbies. On the other: Democrats’ traditional allies in organized labor, who remain highly influential.  CALmatters article 

Joel Fox: Policy, not election reform, determined outcome of major bills — On Friday, fellow F&H columnist Joe Mathews blamed the failure of climate change and tax bills to pass out of the legislature on the top two primary system in California. Sorry, Joe, it was the policy not the election reform that sank these measures. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Mathis wants a special legislative session on water – Last week, in the final days of this year’s session of the California Assembly, Devon Mathis met with every one of his 79 fellow members trying get support behind asking governor to call for a special session. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Debra Saunders: Will Sacto enact this bad end-of-life bill? – Gov. Jerry Brown convened a special session of the Legislature to fix a $1 billion shortfall in health care funding — and the bill the Legislature sent to his desk would legalize physician-assisted suicide. Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle

Schwarzenegger replaces Trump as ‘CEO’ of NBC’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ — For years, Donald Trump dispatched “D”-listers on NBC’s “Celebrity Apprentice” with the catchphrase “You’re fired.” Now that “Terminator” star and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is set to take over as host of the reality competition, the collective wisdom of the Internet is suggesting new slogans, among them, “You’re terminated.” Another possibility: “You won’t be back.” Sacramento Bee article


News Stories

Top Stories

Sierra snowpack is much worse than thought: a 500-year low — When California Gov. Jerry Brown stood in a snowless Sierra Nevada meadow on April 1 and ordered unprecedented drought restrictions, it was the first time in 75 years that the area had lacked any sign of spring snow. Now researchers say this year’s record-low snowpack may be far more historic — and ominous — than previously realized. LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleReuters articleSacramento Bee article

Governor’s signature on ‘negative bailout’ bill would mean almost $3 million annually for Stanislaus County — No one is sure how many times local and state representatives tried to appeal or change a state law that robbed Stanislaus County of an estimated $72 million in tax revenue over 35 years. A bill that will end what’s called the “negative bailout” was finally approved on the last day of the legislative session, with the Senate vote coming at 10 p.m. Friday. Modesto Bee article


Jobs and the Economy 

Bakersfield sales tax revenue perks up in second quarter – Bakersfield’s sales tax revenue situation began to redeem itself during the year’s second quarter, reversing a drop of nearly 16 percent during the first three months of 2015, city officials said Monday. Bakersfield California article

Fresno County supervisors get list of priority projects – Fresno County supervisors have $18.4 million to spend on projects around the county. The only problem: the county has a priority list of projects that amount to more than $55 million. Fresno Bee article

Federal grant will employ drought-impacted workers – Federal money has been set aside to provide temporary employment for Central Valley workers whose jobs were cut short by the drought. An initial allotment of $3 million will pay for as many as 117 local workers displaced by the drought to receive a salary for performing tasks such as removing dead and dried brush to lower the risks posed by fires and mudslides. Bakersfield Californian article 

California Legislature: Green tech gets greet light — Despite a testy and drawn-out political battle, the new green mandates just approved by state lawmakers — higher efficiency standards for buildings, more reliance on renewable energy — signal good news for the state’s clean-energy industry. The guidelines are expected to draw new investment and jump-start wind and solar projects, benefiting many Bay Area companies. But industry insiders also say the burgeoning market still faces regulatory challenges ahead. San Jose Mercury News article

Anaheim may freeze plans for short-term rentals – A surge in complaints about noise and parking problems at short-term rentals near Disneyland Resort is pushing the Anaheim City Council to consider a moratorium on property owners who rent out their homes and apartments. LA Times article

Stockton mourns downtown developer — Energy. Vision. Passion. Those are some of the most consistent words people have used to describe Tim Egkan, the young, downtown Stockton developer whose lifeless body was found early Sunday on a dark street in the city’s central core. Egkan’s violent death is being mourned by a number of people touched by his presence as a mover, shaker and unyielding promoter of a renewed downtown Stockton. Stockton Record article

Your questions about California state retiree health benefits asked and answered – The Legislature has approved the terms of new labor agreements for California state engineers and scientists that include contributions to their retiree medical benefits, extend how long new employees must work to vest in the program and, for the first time, lower the state’s share of cost for future retirees’ medical, dental and vision coverage. Sacramento Bee article 

Sanger start-up launches foray into e-books – Tired of the monopoly major companies like Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble have over the electronic book industry, two local businessmen have decided to develop their own alternative and help independent merchants make the digital leap. The Business Journal article 

Ventura County sees a sales tax hike as a fix for transportation problems — Encouraged by recent opinion polling, they are exploring a ballot measure for the November election that would impose a small sales tax that could raise an additional $1 billion to $2 billion for transportation projects. LA Times article



Clovis watering fines exceed $227,000 in August – Fines for Clovis residents not meeting state water-consumption rules shot up in August to $227,882, city officials said. In the three months the state mandates have been in effect, the city has fined water customers nearly $500,000. Fresno Bee article

Future of water: Technology to help CA farms stretch every drop — California farms produce half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts grown in the United States. To do that, farmers here typically use 80 percent of the water stored in the state’s reservoirs and aqueducts. Will that still be the case in the year 2040? Believe it or not, the answer to that question is probably yes. KPCC report

Doug Greener: Defensible space even more critical in drought – The chief of the Bakersfield Fire Department writes, “On behalf of the men and women of the Bakersfield Fire Department, I again ask for your cooperation and assistance in creating defensible spaces and reducing the hazards of vegetation fires. Your proactive defensible space planning and diligent property maintenance ahead of an emergency is critical to protecting the community against brush fires this season.” Greener op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Parlier company recalling cucumbers — A Parlier produce company is voluntarily recalling all cucumbers sold under the Fat Boy label as part of a nationwide recall related to an outbreak of salmonella. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Report details economic hardships for inmate families – A survey of families that have a family member in jail or prison has found that nearly two-thirds struggle to meet their basic needs, including 50 percent that are unable to afford sufficient food and adequate housing. New York Times article

Three not guilty pleas – two from CHP officers – in Kauffman murder case — Three defendants facing charges related to the death of Turlock man Korey Kauffman pleaded not guilty this morning. Christina Anne DeFilippo and CHP Officers Scott McFarlane and Eduardo Quintanar Jr. are each charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and being an accessory in the case. Modesto Bee article



Bakersfield College faculty consider a vote of no confidence in Kern Community College District leadership – The Kern Community College District’s board has approved raises for several administrators on its three-campus leadership team — district management, eight classified confidential employees and, last week, two of its three community college presidents. The only top leader left out of the promotional loop was Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian. Now BC’s faculty is planning to fight back on Christian’s behalf. Bakersfield Californian articleBakersfield Californian editorial

California charter school scores dive — Like paragliders caught in a downdraft, test scores of many once high-flying charter schools plummeted on state results released last week. Even more so than their public-school counterparts’ tests, a number of charter schools’ scores took a nosedive. Now schools are scrambling to examine why. Contra Costa Times article 

Teachers become entrepreneurs by selling classroom materials online — With blogs, tweets, brands and online stores, tens of thousands of K-12 teachers are selling lesson plans and other classroom aids they’ve created over the Internet – with many reaping large profits in the process. The practice, at least a decade old, has boomed in the past two years, thanks largely to proliferating online platforms and a hunger among teachers for classroom tools aligned with the new Common Core standards. EdSource article



Governor authorizes additional $12.5 million to fight wildfires – Gov. Jerry Brown has authorized $12.4 million in additional spending to help fight the massive wildfires raging through California. LA Times article

Cooler, showery weather helps firefighters battling Rough fire – A steady drizzle of rain that fell across Sierra and Sequoia national forests and into Kings Canyon on Monday brought much needed relief for firefighters battling Fresno County’s largest-ever wildfire. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Northern California Valley fire damages part of huge geothermal power generator — Fires have damaged five cooling towers at the Geysers geothermal power generation facility. The facility continues to produce electricity at more than two-thirds of its full capacity, said Brett Kerr, a spokesman for the plant’s operator, Houston-based Calpine. LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

One dead, others missing in Lake County fire – Lower temperatures and a clearing sky allowed firefighters to unleash new aerial attacks on Northern California’s two major fires Monday, but officials warned that the blazes that have killed at least one person and burned hundreds of homes since last week may be just the beginning of California’s fire problems. Sacramento Bee article

Amid California wildfires, escapes and choices – As they watched the sky go black and flames race toward their homes, the artists and campers, retirees and families living in this mountain town knew it was time to flee. Some, fearing that the drought-fueled fires raging across California would bring this moment to their door, had bags packed, ready to go. Others did not. New York Times article

Sacramento Bee: The new normal for state’s fire season is here – State firefighters have battled 1,600 more fires than average this year, and the Santa Ana and Diablo winds haven’t even begun. Biblical or not, they bear a message that we ignore at our peril: “This is the future,” as Gov. Jerry Brown put it at a news conference on Monday. “From now on.” Sacramento Bee editorial 

California fires: Worst may be yet to come as drought-parched landscape is primed to burn – Experts said at least another month, possibly two, of extreme fire risk remains before hoped-for El Niño winter rains could begin to dampen dry grasses, shrubs and trees all over California. San Jose Mercury News article

Jeff Jardine: From flames in the foothills come stories that warm hearts – People throughout Valley and foothill regions are stepping up in every way possible, from donations of goods and food supplies to offering their properties as shelter to rescuing animals. Efforts are ongoing in virtually every community in the area to meet the immediate needs of the displaced. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Lake County’s nightmare summer of fire and fear – Now, after the Valley Fire ravaged Middletown and the smaller village of Cobb, burning hundreds of homes in one of the state’s most damaging blazes, Lake County residents aren’t just frustrated and scared. They’re shell-shocked. San Francisco Chronicle article

Well-loved Harbin Hot Springs ravaged by Valley fire; pools survive – Harbin Hot Springs, a tranquil New Age health resort in Middletown with clothing-optional communal soaking pools, was a favorite destination for those on a holistic pilgrimage to serene rural California. But the classic 19th century retreat was in much need of healing Monday after being leveled by the ferocious Valley Fire. San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article 

Meet the insect that helped fuel Northern California’s Valley fire destruction — Call it a vicious cycle: drought, wildfires and bark beetles.  California’s historic drought stresses trees across the state, making them ideal prey for bark beetles. The insect infestations dry out vegetation further, creating forests that can light up like tinder. Fires then damage more trees, attracting more beetles, and turning more forests brown. LA Times article

Workshop will solicit input for new rules on oil field injections — Members of the public are invited to a workshop Tuesday in Bakersfield where California regulators will accept input that could help shape new state rules on oil field injection work key to Kern County petroleum production. Bakersfield Californian article

Meeting will explore fish passage on Tuolumne — The public can weigh in again Thursday on the idea of conveying salmon and steelhead trout past Don Pedro and La Grange reservoirs on the Tuolumne River. Modesto Bee article 

‘The problem is only growing’ — Last year, patient Coastal Cleanup Day volunteers removed 294,099 cigarette butts, 163,457 pieces of tiny plastic and 116,669 caps and lids from California waterways. And you can bet they’ll find a new crop waiting for them on Saturday as the annual event rolls around again. Stockton Record article

Sacramento Kings show off solar array plays for arena rooftop — The Sacramento Kings introduced their arena solar power business partner Monday – a Shanghai-based company with local roots – and in the process offered a glimpse into the intricacies of arena economics. Sacramento Bee article 

Visalia Unified’s solar savings exceed Measure E projections — On-campus solar projects included in Measure E that were passed by Visalia Unified School District voters in November 2012 were expected to generate about $500,000 in annual energy savings. But school officials said this week that according to the latest report, the solar projects actually saved the South Valley school district $506,188 in energy costs during the 2014-2015 fiscal year — and generated a rebate of $446, 119, for a total return of $952,307. The Business Journal article

Janea A. Scott and Christine Kehoe: Plug-in electric vehicles becoming the new normal – Scott, a commissioner with the California Energy Commission, and Kehoe, executive director of the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative, write, “This month marks a new milestone. With global sales set to reach 1 million vehicles this month, zero emission vehicles are becoming the new normal. In particular, plug-in electric vehicles, or PEVs – with their cost effectiveness, competitive performance and increasing convenience – are lining up at dealerships and traffic signals around the world.” Scott/Kehoe op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Health/Human Services  

Daniel Weintraub: Managed care for some kids, not so fast – Gov. Jerry Brown is trying to force California’s sickest, most vulnerable children into managed care health plans. But those children – or at least their families and the doctors who care for them – are fighting back. Weintraub op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Other areas 

Feds investigate fire tanker engine that dropped pieces on Fresno neighborhood — Federal investigators arrived Monday in Fresno so they can learn why pieces of a firefighting aircraft’s jet engine fell to the ground in a Fresno neighborhood Sunday. Fresno Bee article 

Merced civil rights leader Denard Davis dies — Denard Davis, a community advocate, educator, mentor and civil rights leader for multiple generations of men of color in Merced, has died, friends and family confirmed Monday. Davis, who was widely known as “Mr. D,” was 81. Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton’s longest-serving port director dies at 83 — Alexander Krygsman, former director of the Port of Stockton and who was hailed as a “miracle worker” in turning around the financially struggling agency shortly after taking its reins in 1977, died Saturday in Stockton following a long illness. He was 83. Stockton Record article



Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian – One would think a vital, community-oriented educational body would want to listen to its employees and constituents, but the Kern Community College District’s board of trustees does a pretty good job of ignoring them.

Fresno Bee – Keep backing high school “Nobel Prizes” in California.

Merced Sun-Star – We’ll all be needed to fight future wildfires. 

Modesto Bee – We’ll all be needed to fight future wildfires.

Sacramento Bee – The new normal for state’s first season is here; Sacramento steps toward a better ethics policy.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers on Athena winners being worthy of honors and emulation, winning the reading game, and other issues.