September 19, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

John Myers: For California Republicans, stakes in 2016 are high — As the Grand Old Party in the nation’s most populous state gather for their biannual convention, two decades worth of culture wars seem to have migrated to the national stage — a danger, say some, for the California faithful. Myers in KQED

All but three CalChamber ‘job killers’ died – All but three of the 19 bills that had been labeled “job killers” by the California Chamber of Commerce during the 2015 legislative session either stalled or were amended to remove the epithet, the business organization says in a new tally.  Sacramento Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Republican Senate candidates agree on one thing: Three’s a crowd – The three major Republicans mounting uphill candidacies for a U.S. Senate held court in hallways and meeting rooms here Friday, each giving activists, reporters and would-be donors their best arguments on why the party should coalesce around them.   Sacramento Bee article

On Location: California Politics Podcast — Capitol watchers all wanted to know the same thing once legislators wrapped up their work for 2015 and headed home: Who won what, and why? This week, our California Politics Podcast hit the road for a live session at the annual meeting of the Bay Area Council. The region’s business leaders also had a few questions of their own about high profile legislative battles, and we’ve recorded the entire event for this week’s episode.  California Politics Podcast in KQED

$9 billion school bond clears threshold for November 2016 ballot — Proponents of a $9 billion school-construction bond have turned in enough valid voter signatures to qualify for the November 2016 ballot, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced Friday. The school borrowing measure would be the first since 2006. Sacramento Bee article

‘Delete Hillary’ – newest game at CAGOP state convention — Delete Hillary? That’s the game which more than 1,000 Republicans will be invited to play this weekend — an effort by the Monterey County Republicans to fire up the faithful as the party kicks off its 3-day state convention here. San Francisco Chronicle article



Feds appeal family detention ruling — Federal officials will fight for their right to continue to lock up mothers and children in family detention centers. The Justice Department filed an appeal with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday after a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration must release thousands of detained children with their mothers, who say they’re fleeing violence in their home countries. McClatchy Newspapers article

Other areas

Huckabee says he would have corrected anti-Muslim comment – Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee declined Friday to condemn Donald Trump for his handling of an anti-Muslim questioner, but he said he would have stepped in with a correction. Sacramento Bee article 

Tony Quinn: Here comes Carly — Like the two leaders in the polls, Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson, she has not held political office, although that is thanks to California voters having defeated her for the US Senate in 2010.  But unlike Trump and Carson, Fiorina clearly understands complex issues and seems by most accounts to have been the outstanding performer in theWednesday debate. Quinn in Fox & Hounds

Carly Fiorina’s post-debate moment is just a start: She needs support but faces more scrutiny – Carly Fiorina fought and scraped her way to the top of the male-dominated business world, becoming chief executive of one of the tech industry’s iconic companies. She fought and scraped her way from an afterthought in the crowded Republican presidential field to the hands-down winner of Wednesday night’s Reagan Presidential Library debate. The question, now that Fiorina is having her moment: Does her underfunded campaign have the capacity to reap the benefits of her newfound momentum? LA Times article 

Sen. Barbara Boxer lashes out at Carly Fiorina as ‘mean-spirited’ face of corporate greed – Sen. Barbara Boxer lashed out at Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina on Friday, saying that the woman she defeated in 2010 is a “mean-spirited,” failed business leader who cared more about enriching herself than about working Americans. LA Times article 

Debra Saunders: Keep your eyes on the race: Carly Fiorina’s prepared to fight — Who is this Carly Fiorina? In the press filing center at the CNN Republican debate, journalists from around the country were asking reporter Carla Marinucci and me because we covered the former Hewlett-Packard CEO in 2010 when she ran for the Senate against Democrat Barbara Boxer — and failed spectacularly by 1 million votes. Yet here she is, winning the first two GOP primary debates and burning past veteran politicians who have won brutal elections in big states. Can she actually win? And what’s her special sauce? Saunders column in San Francisco Chronicle 

Sacramento Bee: GOP hopefuls should stop peddling vaccine falsehoods – Last week’s Republican presidential debate had many quotable and enlightening moments. Not among them? The candidates’ breathtakingly irresponsible pandering on vaccines. Sacramento Bee editorial

Democratic clash: Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins to challenge Sen. Marty Block – As her tenure as Assembly speaker winds to a close, Toni Atkins is preparing for her next major political battle: intra-party combat. Atkins is taking on state Sen. Marty Block for his San Diego seat, a highly unusual challenge in a political culture that privileges — and fiercely protects — incumbents. LA Times article 

Andrew Fiala: What to do when entertainment becomes greater than truth in politics – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “Political pomposity is fun. Say what you will about Donald Trump, but he is not boring. He gives the pundits lots to talk about. Demagoguery and punditry are entertaining. Philosophers have long warned against political speech that moves us, without concern for truth.” Fiala op-ed in Fresno Bee


Tim Ward: California’ contradictions on gun – Tulare County’s District Attorney writes, “We all must have the stamina to move past the rhetoric and truly begin to find solutions, to examine what we can do as a society to strengthen laws, not dilute them and to support police officers and deputies while we critique them, if weak.” Ward op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

In unusual filing, judge explains order against antiabortion group – The National Abortion Federation case in San Francisco federal court has been unusual from the start: An antiabortion group, posing as a fetal research company, gained access to two national meetings of the abortion-providers’ group by promising confidentiality, but then claimed a journalist’s First Amendment right to release information and secret recordings. On Friday, the case took another unorthodox turn when a federal judge told an appeals court why he hasn’t allowed public release of the material and has instead ordered the abortion opponents to disclose what information they collected and with whom they may have shared it. San Francisco Chronicle article

News Stories

Top Stories

Some California farmers get OK to use water again — California’s drought regulators Friday lifted water restrictions on a select group of Sacramento Valley and Delta farmers with senior water rights. The decision by the State Water Resources Control Board doesn’t signal an easing of the drought. Rather, it means that as growing season ends for most farmers, water consumption is tailing off and the streams have more supply. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

English learners in Valley lack support, consistency — Educators say English learners get caught in a system that lacks the support they need to succeed. Research shows they are among the most likely to drop out of high school. In California, 65 percent of such students graduated last year, 15 percentage points below their peers. Many never make it to college, and those who do face low completion rates. Nearly one in 10 students nationally is an English learner. In the central San Joaquin Valley, it’s one in four, the vast majority of them U.S. citizens. Fresno Bee article‘English learning resource list’ in Fresno Bee


Jobs and the Economy

Unemployment numbers drop throughout Valley – Unemployment rates fell throughout the eight-county San Joaquin Valley in August, with four counties dropping below 9 percent, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department.  The jobless rates ranged from a low of 8.3 percent in San Joaquin County to a high of 11 percent in Tulare County. Here are the August 2015 numbers, followed in parentheses by the July 2015 and August 2014 numbers:

  • Fresno– 8.9 percent (9.6, 10.4)
  • Kern– 9.3 percent (10.0, 9.6)
  • Kings– 9.1 percent (9.8, 10.5)
  • Madera–8.8 percent (9.9, 9.9)
  • Merced– 9.7 percent (10.8, 11.3)
  • San Joaquin– 8.3 percent (8.9, 10.0)
  • Stanislaus– 8.5 percent (9.4, 10.2)
  • Tulare– 11.0 percent (11.7, 12.4) 

California posts solid jobs growth; unemployment rate falls to 6.1 percent – The California unemployment rate fell to 6.1% in August from 6.2% the previous month — the lowest level since January 2008 — while employers added a healthy 36,200 net new jobs. LA Times article

Jobless rate falls in California and Valley – California’s unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent in August and also fell in the Northern San Joaquin Valley, though the joblessness rate here remains higher than the state average. The state’s jobless rate was 7.4 percent.  Modesto Bee article

Fresno County unemployment rate dips under 9 percent – Fresno County’s unemployment rate dipped to under 9 percent in August, marking the first time in almost eight years that the jobless mark has been that low. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article 

Kern’s jobless rate dipped to 9.3 percent in August – Kern County unemployment dipped to a seasonally unadjusted 9.3 percent in August, its lowest rate since November, as farmers, schools and manufacturers created new jobs. Last month’s jobless rate represented significant improvement from July’s revised 9.9 percent and August 2014’s 9.6 percent, the state reported. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced County unemployment hits 8-year low; poverty rate remains stagnant – Merced County’s unemployment rate fell to less than double digits for the first time in eight years, the Employment Development Department reported Friday. The data showed an unemployment rate of 9.7 percent in August in the county. Merced Sun-Star article 

School, farm job gains cut San Joaquin County unemployment — Seasonal employment gains, as schools ended their summer furloughs and farmers began cranking up for the fall harvest, pushed down San Joaquin County’s unemployment rate to 8.3 percent in August, from a revised 8.8 percent in July, and well below the August 2014 estimate of 10 percent. Stockton Record article

San Joaquin County: More are working, but for low wages – Despite a drop in the unemployment rate in San Joaquin County last year, more county residents were living in poverty than the average in California, according to recently released Census data. The poverty rate in the county was 20.9 percent in 2014, whereas in California, it was 16.4 percent. Stockton Record article 

Goal-setting app wins regional round of business contest – Nathan Bunney won the latest regional round of the Stanislaus Innovation Challenge with a concept that helps people meet personal goals. He developed software that clients can use to track their progress on weight loss, sobriety and other efforts. Modesto Bee article

Business booming at 12th and Lacey in Hanford – The corner of 12th Avenue and Lacey Boulevard has transformed over the past few months as new businesses flock to the area. Hanford Sentinel article 

Was this fired pension officer right? — It doesn’t seem like much in the context of high-stakes decisions about multibillion-dollar public pension funds, but $1,000 means a lot to Jeff Baker. He’s the civil servant who was fired by the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association in 2011 after raising questions about how a Texas money manager was investing the nest egg of tens of thousands of county workers and retirees. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Tulare County Fair seeks to continue attendance improvement run – The Tulare County Fair will close this weekend with two more days of music acts, car smashing action, and food. And if attendance numbers hold up, an unprecedented number of attendees. Visalia Times-Delta article

500 Club in Clovis could lose state card room license — The 500 Club in Clovis is in jeopardy of losing its gaming license because the state says its major financial backers didn’t have the necessary gaming licenses and background checks. One of those backers is the card room’s former attorney, who is being sued by the card room owner. Fresno Bee article



ALRB judge rules against Gerawan Farming in dispute with UFW — After months of testimony from more than 100 witnesses, an administrative law judge has ruled against Reedley-based Gerawan Farming Co. and its effort to get rid of the United Farm Workers union. Judge Mark R. Soble, citing employer’s unlawful support and assistance, is recommending that the decertification election held in 2013 be set aside and the decertification petition dismissed. Fresno Bee articleAP article

Michael Hiltzik: How a rich water district beat the federal government in a secret deal – Clout can be defined in many ways. In California’s parched Central Valley farmlands, it’s the ability to secure water. By that measure, the giant Westlands Water District has just set a whole new standard. Hiltzik in LA Times

Hundreds of millions in drought relief failing to reach many Californians – Over the last year and a half, Gov. Jerry Brown has set aside $587 million for immediate emergency drought relief. But a third of that money still hasn’t been spent. And the Medinas have yet to see any of it. KQED report

Avenal water situation tight but improved — Last September, Avenal leaders weren’t sure there was going to be enough water to keep the toilets flushing. This time around, the western Kings County city looks to be in a better position. Chalk up the change to conservation measures implemented in late September 2014. That’s when city officials switched to two-day-a-week landscape watering and imposed additional conservation strategies. Hanford Sentinel article

Erika Smith: Drought is leaving its mark on the City of Trees – It’s a shame, then, that the drought, in addition to claiming large swaths of green grass, has staked its claim to many of our trees. Look closely and you see them, trees that are turning brown and shedding leaves before they normally would. And not just in Sacramento, but across the region – on public land, in parks and on private property. Smith in Sacramento Bee

Vegas water managers OK water deal with LA agency — Las Vegas water officials have approved a $45 million “water banking” deal to send enough water for about 300,000 homes annually from Lake Mead to drought-parched Southern California. AP article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Protests continue, snarl downtown traffic – Tensions continued to rise Friday as protesters launched a second round of demonstrations against the Stockton Police Department a day after a video showing the forceful arrest of a teenage boy gained international attention. Stockton Record article 

Stockton police under fire for tackling teen accused of jaywalking – A video showing four Stockton police officers tackling a 16-year-old boy to the ground for allegedly jaywalking is drawing public outrage and concerns about excessive force. The nearly 2½ minute video, shot by a bystander Tuesday, has sparked backlash, with many accusing the officers of using unnecessary force on the teen for a minor violation. LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleNew York Times article

First estimates indicate manhunt cost Kern more than $1.5 million – The 16-day manhunt in rugged, mountainous terrain for accused murderer and kidnapper Benjamin Peter Ashley cost Kern County an estimated $1.54 million, a figure that’s expected to grow. Bakersfield Californian article

Lois Henry: The cost of two decades lost – How much is 22 years of your life worth? According to California Victim Compensation and Government Claims rules, if you spent those years wrongfully locked up, it’s worth a little over $800,000. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

3 arrested on looting charges at Lake County fire site — As firefighters continued to gain containment on weakening wildfires in Lake, Calaveras and Amador counties, price gouging and looting were reported in burn areas. Three men from the San Francisco Bay area were arrested after entering the Valley fire, allegedly with the intent to loot homes. Sacramento Bee article 

Amid chaos, order in the court – Forty-seven suspects arrested this week in a three-month law-enforcement mission targeting two warring Norteño criminal street gangs in Stockton had their first day in court Friday afternoon amid abundant security called in to oversee the procession of defendants trooping into and out of a jam-packed second-story courtroom. Stockton Record article 

Lemoore Police Department cars get national nod — The Lemoore Police Department’s patrol cars are getting national attention thanks to their sleek, patriotic design. Lemoore won “Law and Order” magazine’s 2015 vehicle design contest for municipal departments with 10 to 15 officers west of the Mississippi River. Fourteen other departments competed in that category. Hanford Sentinel article

Two more suspects take plea deals in 5-defendant recycling fraud case — Two more suspects have taken plea deals in a two-year, $14 million fraud case involving two dozen recycling centers, some of them in Bakersfield. Guilty pleas by Gonzalo Rodriguez, the case’s alleged ringleader, and Belen Gonzales, both Piru residents, bring to four the number of people who have agreed to deals with prosecutors. The case revolved around an alleged scheme to import empty beverage containers from Arizona for their California Redemption Value. Bakersfield Californian article



Support growing for bilingual classrooms – Proposition 227, passed in 1998, changed the way public schools in California teach English learners. The law requires that those students be taught primarily in English – eliminating most bilingual classrooms and intensifying an urgency to make students “English proficient” as soon as possible. The English-only requirement can be waived at a parent’s request. But there is no guarantee that a district would have room in its bilingual program for every student. Fresno Bee article

Clovis Unified takes difference path to educate English learners – One model places English learners in larger classes with English-speaking classmates while offering them a second class where they can get more individualized attention. The other model, called “push-in,” adds a teacher in mainstream classrooms who gives individualized assistance to students but also offers a second, smaller class. Fresno Bee article

Clovis Unified summer program focuses intently on improving English fluency for elementary students — Clovis Unified elementary students who needed extra help to become more fluent in English so they can improve their state test scores got a boost this summer through a four-week program, the Accelerated English Language Academy.  Fresno Bee article

Ruben Castillo: Early exposure to English language essential for EL students – The administrator for the Migrant Education Program, Fresno County Office of Education, writes, “English Learner students of Fresno County are the same as traditional students, children who want to learn, laugh and be loved. With access to early learning opportunities and enrichment programs, they can grow beyond a classification into invaluable contributors to the future of our community.” Castillo op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Bilingual Valley students recognized at graduation with diploma seals — Eighty-three students lined up one-by-one at southeast Fresno’s Sunnyside High School, shuffling toward the auditorium stage to claim their medallions. Written in all caps in shiny royal blue and gold, the medals screamed their significance: SEAL OF BILITERACY. Fresno Bee article

Interpreters kept busy at Valley schools — Interpreter/translators are kept busy at school districts in the central San Joaquin Valley. Interpreters communicate verbally, making telephone calls and interpreting at meetings. Translators provide written translations of school documents. Larger school districts – and even some of the smaller ones – have entire staffs devoted to interpreting and translating. Fresno Bee article

New program helps struggling students — College of the Sequoias has renewed its efforts to help its most struggling students be successful. The college kicked off its new Student Success Program this semester. The program aims to bring disadvantaged students closer to completing courses, getting degrees and certificates or transferring to a university. Hanford Sentinel article 

Challenging high-tech courses give students leg up in high-demand fields – Technology’s whiz-bang, Wow! possibilities and job prospects draw career-focused teens. The crest of the tech wave holds commercial promise as well as creative license for kids willing to do the work. Modesto Bee article

Technology opens doors, crosses barriers, welcomes next generation of learners – Forty years after Apple Computers braved the school market frontier with free machines, Google is the freebie king and schools stand at the edge of a new frontier. Modesto Bee article

Google it! Free apps the engine as education adapts, reinvents itself – Goo​gle, the brand that became a verb, quickly is becoming as much a classroom essential as Kleenex, the brand that became a noun.  Modesto Bee article 

High schools shifting to laptops for all, say it helps teens push forward, organize — Cheers, shrieks and kids jumping up and down greeted the rollout of laptops for all at Central Valley High School. But beyond the excitement of teens having their own technology in hand, educators say the shift from binders to binary heralds a change in instructional level, the incentive of self-propelled learning and a more collegiate campus. Modesto Bee article 

Ginger Johnson: Modesto City Schools watching others, laying foundations before leap to laptop learning – The associate superintendent of educational services for Modesto City Schools writes, “While all of Modesto City Schools’ sites now have WiFi, a lack of Internet availability plagues our poorest neighborhoods, preventing students from fully utilizing web-based content.” Johnson op-ed in Modesto Bee

Bryan Ballinger: Internet for all next step for equity, education – The Ballico-Cressey Elementary School District Superintendent writes, “The 2015-16 school year is off and running with a number of local schools joining a national trend of schools providing an electronic device for every child, referred to as 1:1. The majority of the districts have elected for digital curriculum instead of the traditional printed textbooks of years past. In many cases, students are allowed to bring these devices home. Now schools have to ask: How do we ensure students have access to high-speed Internet when they leave school? How will students do homework without Internet access at home?” Ballinger op-ed in Modesto Bee 

Cyber-safety and civility training aims to create good digital citizens — The Internet opens the world to eager students, but the world has its perils. With high tech come high expectations about teaching kids online etiquette and raising their cyber-street savvy. Modesto Bee article


Atwater man earns degree with online accessibility, face-to-face support — The ever-widening options of higher education online gave Chris Cox the flexibility and home computer advantage to earn his degree, but it was people power that cheered him over the finish line. Today, a 2015 bachelor of science degree in information technology from Western Governors University hangs in Cox’s modest living room in Atwater, a testament to perseverance as well as his in-depth knowledge. Modesto Bee article

Teacher-friendly apps available for free — The shift to technology has opened a new world to teachers, too. Modesto Bee article

Stubbier fingers swipe, type, get with the program — The excitement of technology has moved into elementary classrooms, but tech for younger students has a different vibe. In the Sylvan Union School District in north Modesto, carts of computers roll from classroom to classroom. Eventually, there will be devices for students to take home, but for now, they are simply a sometimes workstation. Modesto Bee article 

UC Merced graded on its retention rates – A new scoring system unveiled by the White House to help college-seekers and their parents compare schools finds UC Merced ranks similarly to other Central Valley schools in retaining students and keeping them on track to graduate, but falls short when put up against other University of California campuses. Merced Sun-Star article

McSwain, Snelling report highest test scores in Merced County – Recently released state scores reveal large gaps in student performance among school districts in Merced County. Merced Sun-Star article

Fraternity at Fresno State suspended for hazing — A fraternity has been suspended at Fresno State University for hazing activity. Alpha Gamma Rho, a fraternity for agriculture students, has been placed on suspension for two years for hazing and serving alcohol to minors last school year. Fresno Bee article 

Clovis Unified to redraw attendance boundaries — Clovis Unified is proposing slight changes to about half of its 32 elementary school attendance zones, meaning some students will transfer to another elementary school in the district next year, depending on where they live. Fresno Bee article

Fifth-graders find science can be a blast – As scores of Stockton Unified school buses arrived at the San Joaquin County Office of Education with 850 fifth-graders for the annual Science Blast event, the goal for many organizers is for a light to go off in the next generation of scientists, engineers and astronauts. Stockton Record article

Mixed marks in police union evaluation for CSU Bakersfield chief — Eight rank-and-file Cal State Bakersfield police officers accuse Chief Marty Williamson of the CSUB campus police force of giving certain employees special treatment micromanaging others in a union survey The Californian obtained this week. Bakersfield California article


As wildfires burn, concerns about California’s air quality mount — Smoke and soot from more than a dozen wildfires burning in Northern and Central California are causing a range of respiratory and other health problems for residents in affected areas. But the state’s air quality challenges go deeper. KQED Forum 

Five wildfire deaths highlight vulnerability of isolated seniors in disasters – Of the three deaths reported so far in Lake County’s devastating Valley fire, all were senior citizens, among them 72-year-old Barbara McWilliams, who suffered from advanced multiple sclerosis. Two other men who are believed to have died were in their late 60s. LA Times article 

Rough fire containment grows Friday – The Rough Fire burning in the Sierra east of Fresno reached 141,491 acres and expanded to 68 containment on Friday. Fresno Bee article

1 week after disaster, victims of Valley Fire in recovery mode – Like most people, power plant mechanic Tony Romo and his wife, Kristine, a police officer, are headed back to work Monday. The couple, however, will return to their jobs without work clothes, cars or a home. San Francisco Chronicle article

How firefighters learn to fight wildfires with fire – Drought or no drought, big wildfires are never won with just water. Typical wildland fire engines carry only 500 gallons of water, which can be used up in as little as five minutes. Todd Derum, a division chief for Cal Fire, is one of those sent out to manage large wildfires. He says in addition to strategy and tactics, an appreciation for water conservation is key to any fire incident. KQED report

Michael Picker: Energy forum to explain new PG&E rates – The president of the California Public Utilities Commission writes, “The California Public Utilities Commission has restructured the electricity rates for households served by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to help us meet our clean-energy goals and make rates fairer. This is a complicated but important issue for consumers, and that is one reason that the CPUC is holding a public forum on rates at Fresno City Hall on Tuesday at 6 p.m.” Picker op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Marcia Penner Freedman: We choose to life with certainty of fire – The Oakhurst resident writes, “We’ve chosen to live in a forest, tens of thousands of us in eastern Fresno, Madera and Mariposa counties. Not just any forest, but a Sierra forest. And that means we’ve chosen to live with the certainty of fire. To complicate things, our communities sit at the edge of the million-acre Sierra National Forest, where wildfire is as natural as the wind.” Freedman op-ed in Fresno Bee

Oil producer buys emissions-reducing burners for steam plant in west Kern — Encouraging results from an oil field demonstration project have persuaded Bakersfield-based Aera Energy LLC to purchase combustion-improvement technology for one of its steam generation plants in western Kern County. Bakersfield Californian article


Health/Human Services  

Brain disease CTE found in 87 of 91 NFL players tested, researchers say — The brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, believed to be caused by repeated head trauma, has been found in 87 of 91 deceased former NFL players tested, according to researchers. LA Times article

Ana Ibarra: Health fairs play strong role in Merced communities — For people who lack health care coverage, get nervous in doctors’ offices, or just want to watch their spending, community health fairs are an opportunity to have basic screenings without a lot of hassle. Merced Sun-Star article


Land Use/Housing

Closing arguments come, but no verdict in Amberton wall case — Attorneys in Bakersfield’s Amberton wall neighborhood dispute clashed over familiar issues during closing arguments Friday, but a Superior Court judge delayed a decision on whether the barrier dividing the subdivision from adjacent Stockdale Estates should stay. Bakersfield Californian article


Rail service crisis looms as Congress looks to modify safety law — President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the nation’s rail safety agency told lawmakers Thursday that the agency would hold railroads to a year-end deadline to install collision-avoidance technology even if it meant that freight and passengers could be left stranded. McClatchy Newspapers article

Sacramento Airport enlists animals to relax passengers — When Joanna Matson and her even-keeled Cavalier King Charles spaniel Melinda arrived at the Sacramento International Airport on Friday, the first thing she did was look at the digital displays for delayed flights. Sacramento Bee article



Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.


Sacramento Bee – Last week’s Republican presidential debate had many quotable and enlightening moments. Not among them? The candidates’ breathtakingly irresponsible pandering on vaccines.

Maddy Events


Sunday, Sept. 20, at 10 a.m. on Fresno ABC30 – Maddy Report: “Prop 63 and the State’s Mental Health Programs: Promises (Un)Fulfilled?” — — Guests: Darrell Steinberg, former president pro tem of the California Senate and current director of Policy and Advocacy at the UC Davis Behavioral Health Center of Excellence, and Carole D’Elia, executive director of the Little Hoover Commission. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler.

Sunday, Sept. 20, at 10 a.m. on KMJ (580AM and 105.9FM Radio/podcast) – Maddy Report – Valley Views Edition: “Prop 63 in Action: Tulare County’s Innovative Mental Health Program” — Guests: Dr. Timothy Durick, the director of the Tulare County Mental Health Department, and John Moreno Gonzales with the California Health Care Foundation’s Center for Health Reporting. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director Mark Keppler. 

Sunday, Sept. 20, at 7 a.m. on Univision 21 (KFTV) and UniMas 61 (KTFF) – El Informe Maddy: “Prop 63 and the State’s Mental Health Programs” – Guest: Jose Oseguera (Mental Health Services Oversight & Accountability Commission). Host: Maddy Institute Deputy Director Ana Melendez.

The Maddy Report airs throughout California on The Cal Channel.  Check to find the Cal Channel and schedule in your area.  You also can view previous Maddy Report programs in their entirety at


Community Events


  •    CA Fwd will hold an event on “Money, Schools, Jobs and You – A Bipartisan Conversation in Clovis” at the Center for Advanced Research Technology on Tuesday, Sept. 29, from 6-8 p.m. Speakers are Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin; former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed; Pete Peterson, executive director of Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership; and Marshall Tuck, Educator in Residence, New Teacher Center.  Event is free but registration is required.  More information:
  • West Hills Community College District will hold an event, “Shifting Ground — Adapting the San Joaquin Valley Economy to a Changing Climate,” on Oct. 8 at Harris Ranch in Coalinga. Senior leaders from business, agriculture, government agencies and nonprofits will gather to launch immediate actions and provide near-term guidance to create next generation jobs in a region battered by drought and struggling with multiple challenges. Visit www.essentialelementsseries.comfor details of this no-fee policy series.
  • The fourth annual San Joaquin Valley Affordable Housing Summit will be held at the Bakersfield Marriott at the Convention Center on Tuesday, Nov. 3, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration and additional information is available here.
  • The 2015 California Economic Summit will be held in Ontario on Nov. 12-13.  Since its inception in 2012, the Summit has brought together hundreds of private, public and civic leaders from the state’s diverse regions in an effort to advance the triple bottom line: promoting a prosperous economy that respects environment and equity concerns.  More information and registration is available here.




Next 10: UPDATED California budget challenge – For the first time in a decade, California’s budget is largely in balance.  However, the state has outstanding debts of $28 million, not counting long-term pension and retiree health care costs.  Budget choices affect us all.  Take the Challenge and decide how much should be spent on programs and where the money should come from.  Next 10 California Budget Challenge

Next 10: Federal budget challenge — The Federal Budget Challenge is based on The Concord Coalition’s Principles and Priorities budget exercise, which has been used in numerous town hall meetings across the country by members of Congress from both parties, as well as in hundreds of high school and college classrooms.  Next 10 Federal Budget challenge at 

Next 10: California Water Challenge – As our state faces some of the most severe drought conditions in its history, Next 10 wants to issue a new challenge to Californians: can you create a plan to make sure there’s enough water for everyone?  Next 10 California Water Challenge

LEGISLATORS’ VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker’s last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.

More Information

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Maddy Institute Updates List of San Joaquin Valley Elected Officials – The Maddy Institute has updated its list of San Joaquin Valley elected officials.  The list is available here.

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The Kenneth L. Maddy Institute at California State University, Fresno was established to honor the legacy of one of California’s most principled and effective legislative leaders of the last half of the 20th Century by engaging, preparing and inspiring a new generation of governmental leaders for the 21st Century. Its mission is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.


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