September 15, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Gov. Brown signs package of climate-change bills in Fresno — A group of state lawmakers, guests and reporters gathered atop the spiral parking garage in downtown Fresno Wednesday morning to watch Gov. Jerry Brown sign a package of bills intended to help disadvantaged communities fight climate change and help Sierra communities dispose of dead trees killed in the mass die-off from drought and bark beetles. Fresno Bee article; AP article;Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; The Business Journal article; KVPR report 

Hey big spenders: Three multimillionaires stake a claim on state’s ballot — California has more billionaires than any other state, and an abundance of direct democracy. Those two facts intersect during election season, when spending by wealthy donors helps determine which initiatives make it on the ballot, and how many TV commercials and mailers campaigns can buy. Their donations carry the potential to influence state policy for years to come. Here’s a look at three high-rollers influencing California’s statewide ballot this November—and one who decided not to. CALmatters article

Gov. Brown 

Jerry Brown vetoes bill to help military members find legal aid — Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin’s bill to help active military members find pro bono legal help in California appeared to be one of the least controversial of the year. Facing no registered opposition, the measure cleared committee hearings and floor votes without dissent. It was supported by officials at the U.S. Department of Defense. But Irwin’s bill would have cost money Gov. Jerry Brown was not inclined to spend. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics 

Atwater starts thinking about districts — Seeing a trend of cities in the region going to districts for local elections, the Atwater City Council decided this week to look into the process. Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

On the death penalty, California voters face two stark choices – Four years after California voters decided narrowly to retain the death penalty, they face an even more dramatic choice: abolish executions or try to speed them up by setting tight time limits for state court rulings and limiting appeals. San Francisco Chronicle article 

California billionaire Tom Steyer announces support for November measure to abolish death penalty – California billionaire Tom Steyer on Wednesday threw his support behind a November ballot measure that would repeal the death penalty in the state. LA Times article 

Loretta Sanchez, Kamala Harris wrangle over Trump University — The California Democrats running for U.S. Senate delved Wednesday into their records on for-profit colleges, with Loretta Sanchez continuing to tie Attorney General Kamala Harris to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the businessman’s defunct Trump University.  Sacramento Bee article 

George Skelton: Sunlight is the best disinfectant – and in California’s Legislature, there’s a lot to disinfect – California’s November ballot will be crammed with contentious and complex state ballot measures, enough to give voters a migraine. But one of them shouldn’t require two minutes’ thought. It’s Proposition 54, a motherhood-and-apple-pie proposal if there ever was one. Skelton column in LA Times 

Majority of Californians support initiative to require actors in adult films to use condoms – A majority of Californians support an initiative on the November ballot to require performers in adult films to use condoms during sex scenes, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll of registered voters conducted by SurveyMonkey. LA Times article 

Derrick Burts: Prop 60 provides stronger enforcement of porn industry condom rule – The HIV-positive advocate and former adult film performer writes, “Proposition 60 on the Nov. 8 ballot provides a workable road map for protecting adult film performers. It’s a road map to strengthen the ability of Cal-OSHA, the state’s workplace safety agency, to make sure the porn industry’s bosses see to it that their performers wear condoms during sex scenes.” Burts op-ed in Sacramento Bee


California Democrats urge President Obama to OK expanding Covered California to people in country illegally – California will soon be the first state in the nation to ask the federal government to allow immigrants in the country illegally to purchase health insurance through a state exchange. Democrats from the Golden State gathered outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to urge President Obama to approve the request quickly. LA Times article 

Migrant surge poses challenges for U.S.: Who’s a refugee, who isn’t? – Both family apprehensions and detentions of unaccompanied children have shown dramatic increases over last year’s totals – with family detentions nearly doubling and the number children traveling without parents increasing 52 percent. Those increases raise serious questions about the Obama administration’s strategy to curb the flow through a combination of immigration enforcement and humanitarian assistance. McClatchy Newspapers article 

LA County to require licenses for immigration consultants — Los Angeles County supervisors have voted unanimously to require immigration consultants working in unincorporated areas of the county to be licensed in an effort to crack down on scam artists. AP article; LA Times article 

Other areas 

Frustrated transportation groups urge Legislature to come back in lame-duck session — Saying that “it is time to stop ignoring the transportation needs of our state,” a coalition of more than four dozen economic and local government groups urged state lawmakers on Wednesday to restart talks on a transportation funding agreement before the end of November. LA Times article 

California Republican Party leader wants FBI notes from money laundering case against Rep. Ami Bera’s father – The vice chairman of the California Republican Party wants federal investigators to reveal the names of donors used to hide large contributions to the campaign of Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) by his father. LA Times article 

New state law expands tenant privacy in eviction suits – Tenants who fight off their landlords’ attempts to evict them can keep their names sealed from other property owners, improving their prospects of renting a future residence or obtaining credit, under a new state law sponsored by a Bay Area legislator. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Marcos Breton: Why I got off the sidelines to support Colin Kaepernick — The point is that Kaepernick has a point, and his gesture has made police brutality an inescapable topic while changing the way we talk about sports and patriotism. Breton column in Sacramento Bee 

After a half-dozen attempts, House Democrats again call for gun vote – Several House Democrats lined up in the House chamber Wednesday morning, one by one calling for a vote to expand background checks for gun buyers and to keep people on the FBI watchlist for purchasing guns. LA Times article 

California will start regulating pet-boarding facilities — Dog kennels and pet hotels will have to comply with new rules after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Wednesday to regulate animal-boarding facilities. LA Times article 

Presidential Politics 

Victor Davis Hanson: Barack Obama’s legacy is that he created Donald Trump — Trump is running as an angry populist, fueled by the promise that whatever supposed elites such as Obama have done to the country, he will largely undo. Obama’s only legacy seems to be that “hope and change” begat “make America great again.” Hanson column in Fresno Bee

News Stories

Top Stories

IRS will shut down Fresno tax-processing operations in 2021 – Employees at the U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s massive tax-return processing center in Fresno were notified Wednesday that the IRS will discontinue its return-processing operations there following the 2021 tax-filing season. In past years, the center has employed as many as 3,700 permanent and temporary/seasonal workers. It was not immediately known how many employees would be affected. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article 

Analysis: Tunnels for California water would need U.S. funding — Giant tunnels that Gov. Jerry Brown wants to build to haul water across California are economically feasible only if the federal government bears a third of the nearly $16 billion cost because local water districts may not benefit as expected, according to an analysis that the state commissioned last year but never released. AP article

Jobs and the Economy 

Divided Modesto council moves forward on Amgen Tour — The Amgen Tour of California could be spinning through Modesto next year. The City Council on Tuesday voted 5-2 to approve a letter of intent between Modesto and AEG — the global sports and entertainment company that owns the tour — and authorizing City Manager Jim Holgersson to negotiate an agreement with AEG for the tour’s return. The tour is named after its title sponsor, the biotech firm Amgen. Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: ‘With this permit, I thee wed?” Could be boon for ag tourism promotion – Stanislaus County officials began touting the need to promote agriculture as a tourist industry over two decades ago. They’ve held conferences about it, created programs to develop it and brought in experts to talk about it. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

A rebounding economy remains fragile for many – While the economy finally is moving in the right direction, the real incomes of most American households still are smaller than in the late 1990s. And large swaths of the country — rural America, industrial centers in the Rust Belt and Appalachia — are lagging behind. New York Times article 

SEIU protests insurance spike – Tulare County workers protested a decision to increase health insurance premiums. Some county workers said the insurance premiums are too high, making them impossible to pay. Supervisors said the increase is lower than what was originally proposed. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Bayer buying Monsanto in mega-deal that affects Davis, Sacramento Bayer AG is buying American seed manufacturer Monsanto Co. in a mega-merger that is likely to shake up the blossoming agricultural-technology industry in Davis and greater Sacramento, where both companies have operations. Sacramento Bee article 

Bakersfield’s tallest building sells, new owners talk transformation – The story of Stockdale Tower, Bakersfield’s tallest building, is entering a whole new chapter and the authors intend to make it a page-turner. After years of uncertainty, punctuated by foreclosure and bankruptcy, the 12-story office building on California Avenue has been sold, raising hopes that one of the city’s most iconic structures will remain a vital local center of commerce and industry for years to come — only better. Bakersfield Californian article 

Airbnb preps ad blitz as San Francisco hikes host fees 400 percent – San Francisco is poised to increase registration fees for short-term rental hosts fivefold, to $250 every two years, The Chronicle has learned. Coincidentally, Airbnb, the leading vacation rental company, is mounting an ad campaign in its hometown to buttress its frequent contention that most hosts are regular people making ends meet. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Port of Oakland: Hanjin cargo ships cleared to dock – Hanjin Shipping vessels return to Oakland this week for the first time since the Korean container carrier filed for bankruptcy and stopped taking cargo in late August, roiling the trade industry. San Jose Mercury News article 

Checks coming in for Stars’ back rent — No applause — just throw money. It’s an old show-biz jest taken quite seriously by the board of Stars Theatre Restaurant in a plea to the public for help paying back rent, and it’s working. In just days, Stars has received $17,500 in donations, said Randy Jelmini, president of the board that runs the nonprofit. Bakersfield Californian article 

Full Circle Brewing reopens with new(ish) brews, new look – When Cassidy Jakovickas and Arthur Moye announced they would be taking over Full Circle Brewing Company back in May, it was with the promise of giving the downtown Fresno craft brewery new life and direction. They had a three-phase plan. Fresno Bee article

Inspirational kickoff: Moving story helps start annual United Way fundraising drive – When Tracy resident Aaron McAllister was 8 years old, he asked his mother Ava if he could go to the Boys & Girls Club. Ava McAllister wasn’t sure her son would be accepted by the club or be welcomed by other youngsters due to his autism, and told him that he couldn’t. Stockton Record article 

Disney lays off about 250 people in its consumer products and digital unit – Walt Disney Company has laid off about 250 people in its recently combined consumer products and interactive media unit, the company said. LA Times article 

Google tests burrito delivery by drone — Here’s a test Virginia Tech students probably don’t mind: Google drone delivery of burritos. Starting this week and lasting for a few possibly glorious, calorie-filled weeks, students and other chosen participants at the college can get Chipotle burritos delivered to them by drone. The FAA-approved experiment is being conducted by Google parent company Alphabet’s Project Wing division. San Jose Mercury News article


Modesto Bee: How much water will state ask for today? – Water is the lifeblood of our region and its agriculture industry. Today we’ll find out just how much of that blood the state intends to spill. Modesto Bee editorial 

California’s dairy industry knows how to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, but can it afford to? — Today, many more California dairies are trying to figure out how they, too, can cobble together enough money to buy their own digesters in time to meet the state’s 2030 deadline to cut methane emissions from cow manure by 40 percent. Hitting that target would require about 200 of California’s 1,400 dairies to join the Van Warmerdams in building a digester, said Michael Boccadoro, president for the advocacy group Dairy Cares. Dairy advocates say it’s a tall order. Sacramento Bee article 

Comments flow on plan to acquire more water – A long-running discussion of Kern River rights surfaced at Wednesday’s City Water Board meeting when members heard comments on a draft environmental report that could help Bakersfield acquire some of the precious substance. Bakersfield Californian article 

Tulare water forum draws big crowd – There are solutions to the water issues befalling farmers and growers in the southern San Joaquin Valley, said Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) during a forum held Wednesday in Tulare. Visalia Times-Delta article 

How concerned should you be about arsenic? — OK, so you live in an area in Kings County where there’s arsenic, a known carcinogen, in the groundwater coming out of your tap. Your risk depends on how great the concentration is, how much you drink and for how long. Hanford Sentinel article 

Sanger lands $1.24 million federal grant to support manufacturer water needs — The City of Sanger will receive $1.24 million from the federal government to boost water infrastructure for local manufacturers. The Business Journal article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Kern D.A. gets funding to prosecute misdemeanor crimes — The Kern County District Attorney’s office, bolstered by new funding, will once again start prosecuting all misdemeanor crimes, D.A. Lisa Green said Wednesday. Green decided to stop prosecuting a list of misdemeanor crimes in late August after Kern County supervisors approved budget cuts that effectively de-funded three deputy district attorney positions. Bakersfield Californian article 

3 Dos Palos football players arrested in ‘hazing’ investigation – Three Dos Palos High School varsity football players have been arrested in connection with a “hazing investigation,” police said. Merced Sun-Star article 

They’re already working on a roadside pot test – Stanford engineers hope a new saliva test will quickly allow traffic cops to test whether drivers are under the influence of marijuana. KQED report 

Court tosses Hanford Police Department misconduct lawsuit — A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit alleging Hanford police assaulted a 16-year-old boy and searched his home without a warrant during a 2014 incident. Hanford Sentinel article

State prison investigates cellmate in Folsom inmate’s death — The death of a California State Prison-Sacramento inmate is being investigated as a possible homicide, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Sacramento Bee article 

San Francisco DA to take the lead in probing police shootings — The San Francisco district attorney’s office is a step closer to becoming the lead investigator in all shootings involving city police officers, a move designed to ease concerns about cops policing themselves. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Teen in police sex scandal out of jail, returning to state — A sexually exploited teenager at the center of a Bay Area police scandal was freed from a Florida jail Wednesday and was on her way back to California, where she will testify in court against officers, sue several police agencies and seek counseling, her attorneys said. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Inmates in San Francisco staged-fight lawsuit receive $90,000 settlement — San Francisco is paying $90,000 to settle a lawsuit by three jail inmates who said sheriff’s deputies forced two of them to fight for the officers’ entertainment, a case that has led to criminal charges against three deputies. San Francisco Chronicle article


Fresno Unified staying quiet about ‘unprecedented’ event that delayed Hanson’s evaluation – Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson’s evaluation was abruptly pulled from Wednesday’s school board meeting agenda – but the district is staying quiet about the reasons why. In a news release, the district said the board had to address a “new, unprecedented and intensely complicated pressing legal matter” in closed session, which would postpone Hanson’s scheduled self-evaluation. Fresno Bee article 

Fresno Bee: It’s full STEAM ahead for No. 1 Fresno State – Fresno State is showing the world how to engage, support, educate and graduate thousands of young people who otherwise might not attend college. Its success reflects a big commitment to education from everyone at the university.Fresno Bee editorial 

Pacific listed among nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report – University of the Pacific has been named among the top private universities in California, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings, which were released Tuesday. Stockton Record article 

While debt soars to $17 billion, UC considers new policy on borrowing – The University of California’s debt has ballooned to $17.2 billion since the start of the recession, more than doubling as the system borrowed to repair buildings, fund pensions, and build medical centers and student housing.San Jose Mercury News article 

Fresno Unified’s Hanson, Ashjian spar over school bond – Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson and school board member Brooke Ashjian went head-to-head over the need for another school bond measure at a Fresno Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday. Fresno Bee article 

Substitutes will get $350 a day if Stockton Unified teachers strike – Stockton Unified teachers packed the boardroom during a regularly scheduled school board meeting on Tuesday night, showcasing as a group their willingness to go on strike before the board worked voted to raise the pay of those who might take their places. The board voted 5-2 to more than double the pay for substitute teachers, should there be a strike, to $350 a day from the current substitute pay of $154.98. Stockton Record article 

Modesto school changes policy after wrong child taken home — A Modesto elementary school is changing its student sign-out policy after a preschooler was taken home by the wrong family Tuesday morning. Modesto Bee article 

Hughson Unified trustee Applegate resigns — Hughson Unified School District Board member Rick Applegate has resigned after being arrested over the weekend on suspicion of drunken driving. Modesto Bee article 

Merced Union High School Board censures Opinski – Merced Union High school trustees on Wednesday formally censured fellow trustee Greg Opinski, saying the 54-year-old construction magnate threatened district administrators and demanded access to confidential information to seize an edge in his lawsuit against the district. Merced Sun-Star article 

Fresno Unified board votes to buy land for new school – The Fresno Unified school board voted Wednesday to buy land in southeast Fresno where the district someday might build an elementary school and a high school. Fresno Bee article

Turlock schools asking $88.8 million for safety, upgrades – Turlock Unified wants voters to say “Yes to NO,” and approve Measures N and O to refurbish, repair and renovate its campuses. Modesto Bee article 

Nearly half a million U.S. citizens are enrolled in Mexican schools.  Many of them are struggling — Nearly half a million children who are U.S. citizens are enrolled in Mexican schools, according to the Mexican government. And there are at least another half a million Mexican-born young people who spent part of their life in the U.S. who have now returned home, according to estimates. LA Times article 

Mayor Eric Garcetti promises free community-college tuition as Jill Biden helps launch LA initiative – Speaking in a theater packed with cheering students, Mayor Eric Garcettireiterated his promise Wednesday to make one year of community college free for eligible high school graduates, beginning next year. LA Times article

USC’s school of social work receives $60 million, the largest donation to a school of its kind — Suzanne Dworak-Peck, an internationally recognized leader in social work and a USC alumna, has donated $60 million to the USC School of Social Work, the university announced Wednesday. LA Times article


Lake Tahoe protection and Sacramento flood control in Senate bill – California’s Salton Sea and state-straddling Lake Tahoe would receive funding for environmental restoration under a bill set for Senate approval Thursday. More controversial water-related efforts remain stuck in Capitol Hill limbo, however. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Long-awaited plan divvies up California desert for conservation, renewable energy – Swaths of public land in the California desert will be opened to solar and wind farms under a federal plan released Wednesday that preserves much of the landscape for conservation and recreation. AP article;LA Times article 

The surprising science of wildfires and tree-killing beetles – So far this year 4,636 wildfires in California have burned more than 200,000 acres. That’s more fires than this time last year and more fires than the five-year average. In fact, in the last few decades, the number of large fires are on the rise across the Western United States and the length of the fire season continues to expand. KQED report 

Big earthquakes can produce destructive tremblors on nearby faults, new study finds – UC San Diego has found evidence that large earthquakes can quickly produce powerful and potentially dangerous aftershocks on nearby faults, an insight that could aid experts planning for how to deal with seismic hazards in California. LA Times article

California coast: Where Obama may establish new national monuments — Environmental groups and Democratic congressional leaders are pushing for the president, who only has four months left in office, to add six pieces of land to the existing California Coastal National Monument, an area set up 16 years ago by President Bill Clinton to protect offshore rocks and islands. San Jose Mercury News article

Health/Human Services 

Study supports less treatment for early prostate cancer – A 10-year study of more than 1,500 men with prostate cancer found no difference in death rates between men who had surgery or radiation and those who monitored the disease. New York Times article 

Here’s why your pediatrician won’t recommend FluMist this season — For more than a decade, millions of children have avoided the prick of the flu shot by getting the vaccine sprayed up their noses. But this fall, most parents taking their kids in for flu vaccination will find that their pediatricians are not offering the FluMist spray. KPCC report


Report: Tech buses proliferating throughout Bay Area – On any given day, more than 800 “tech buses” negotiate narrow city streets and congested freeways to cart employees to offices throughout the Bay Area, according to a first-of-its-kind survey released Wednesday by a regional transportation planning agency. San Jose Mercury News article 

Legal battle widens over future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport — The legal battle over the future of Santa Monica Municipal Airport widened Tuesday when a major aviation tenant filed a federal complaint challenging the city’s effort to reduce aircraft services and eventually shut down the historic facility. LA Times article 

Other areas

Residents gather over vagrants in Graceada, Enslen park — More than 100 college-area residents packed the Boy Scout Club House at Enslen Park last week over an issue that concerns all of Modesto – the vagrants and homeless who have taken over city parks. Modesto Bee article 

Violence against Sikhs, Muslims decried by leaders at Fresno State panel — Following the screening of a film about an attack on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin that killed six worshipers in 2012, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims reminded a large crowd that filled Fresno State’s North Gym on Wednesday evening that “this could happen here.” Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Fresno State is showing the world how to engage, support, educate and graduate thousands of young people who otherwise might not attend college. Its success reflects a big commitment to education from everyone at the university.

Modesto Bee – Water is the lifeblood of our region and its agriculture industry. Today we’ll find out just how much of that blood the state intends to spill.

Sacramento Bee – From mysterious outages to relentless Russian hackers, this just isn’t the year for digital correspondence; Last week’s fines for the epic bank rip-off are a drop in the bucket. But they underscore the value of bank regulation – and the working press.