September 19, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: Sneakiness abounded on last night of California Legislature’s session — The last night of the Legislature’s biennial session on Aug. 31 was, as usual, a hectic free-for-all. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

How a California pension deal went wrong and cost taxpayers million — This year, state employee pensions will cost taxpayers $5.4 billion, according to the Department of Finance. That’s more than the state will spend on environmental protection, fighting wildfires and the emergency response to the drought combined. And it’s more than 30 times what the state paid for retirement benefits in 2000, before the effects of the new pension law, SB 400, had kicked in, according to data from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. CALmatters article; ‘Pension debt: The facts,’ CALmatters article in LA Times

Gov. Brown

 John Burton: Governor: Keep the promise to care for mothers-to-be in foster care – The chairman and founder of the John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes writes, “Young women in foster care are 2 1/2 times more likely to become pregnant by age 19 than other teens. Due to a lack of resources, these young parents often walk out of the hospital completely unprepared. And, too often, the cycle continues – children born to foster youths in California are 300 percent more likely to enter foster care themselves. Gov. Jerry Brown has the power to help change this. Burton op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics 

Vince Fong: It’s time to stand with our local farmers – The candidate for the 34th Assembly District writes, “The signing of AB 1066 into law, which will take effect Jan. 1, will harm not only the hard-working farmers and workers here in the Central Valley, but its effects will be felt state and nationwide. Here’s why.” Fong op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Bakersfield California: End toothless, costly death penalty: Yes on Prop 62, no on 66 — It’s time to end this madness. Vote yes on Prop. 62 and no on Prop. 66. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Sacramento Bee: Drug pricing is too complex to fix with Prop 61 — In short, a vote for this initiative is a protest vote. Real change, as Brown noted, can unfortunately come primarily from Congress and, in lesser ways, from the Legislature. It’s the only cure to this racket. Sacramento Bee editorial

Republicans in California’s delegation largely sitting out Senate race, but some prefer Sanchez — Like a lot of Republicans in California frustrated with a choice of two Democrats in the U.S. Senate race, nearly all of the 14 Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation are sitting this one out. LA Times article

Other areas

‘It’s going to take some time and additional transparency’: State lawmakers hope to expand fair-pay protections for women – California enacted one of the toughest equal pay laws in the country less than a year ago, and supporters say there are signs it’s starting to work. LA Times article

In a state of painkillers — The makers of prescription painkillers have adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help kill or weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids, the drugs at the heart of a crisis that has cost 165,000 Americans their lives and pushed countless more to crippling addiction. AP/Center for Public Integrity article

News Stories

Top Stories

The stories behind Modesto’s auto theft capital status — Every month, hundreds of cars are stolen in Stanislaus County. Modesto has topped the list of auto thefts per capita probably for as long as there’s been a list. And behind every stolen vehicle report is a victim who has to rely on others to get around or scrimp and scrape to repair or replace their vehicle. Modesto Bee article

Scientists, environmentalists critical of EV availability – except in California — Besides flat sales in California, other cracks in the electric vehicle industry have surfaced recently. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Neighboring counties voice support for home care workers seeking raises — Area home care workers, represented by United Domestic Workers, were shown support at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting by fellow providers from Madera and Stanislaus counties. Local home care providers began addressing supervisors in the public comment portion of meetings months ago, asking them to consider adding benefits to their compensation as well as a raise that will bring their pay above minimum wage. The county has been in negotiations with the union for more than a year now, said Mike Loza, the union’s regional coordinator for District 4. The union’s latest contract expired in December. Merced Sun-Star article

New Sacramento arena relies on city parking fees – plus lots of cash from Kings – Welcome to Golden 1 Center. That’ll be $18.3 million, please. That’s how much the city of Sacramento will pay each year to help fund the Kings’ new $556 million downtown arena, set to open Oct. 4. Put another way, it’s the average annual debt service on the bonds the city sold last fall to pay for its contribution to Golden 1 – a financial burden that won’t expire until 2050. Sacramento Bee article

As tent city plan fades, attention turns to homeless near Golden 1 Center – Civil rights attorney Mark Merin joined a delegation of Sacramento officials to Seattle in February to tour that city’s network of sanctioned camps for the homeless. A few weeks later, with city leaders showing lukewarm support for the model, Merin said he and his supporters would move ahead with a tent city of their own on a downtown lot he owns. And if the city got in his way, Merin threatened to sue. Since then? Crickets. Sacramento Bee article

How tech disrupted Silicon Valley’s tech scene – Restaurants in Palo Alto, Calif., are increasingly struggling as rents soar and workers are hired away by the corporate cafeterias of behemoths like Google. New York Times article

Merced council to vote on police contract for Merced College — The Merced City Council on Monday will consider a contract to provide police services to Merced College in exchange for use of the college’s pool and classrooms for training exercises, the agenda shows. Merced Sun-Star article

Airbnb fights unfriendly regulations with wave of lawsuits against San Francisco, other cities — As cities around the country attempt to regulate the growing home-sharing industry, Airbnb is going on the offensive with a barrage of lawsuits intended to kill local rules it doesn’t like. San Jose Mercury News article


Don Curlee: Supreme ruling protects farmers — A multitude of farmers in California and elsewhere and non-farm citizens as well owe a great debt of gratitude to the Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) for two farm-related victories it achieved recently at the U. S. Supreme Court. Curlee in Visalia Times-Delta

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Marcos Breton: Fired, retired or expired: Why is Sacramento’s police chief walking away? — Sam Somers Jr. isn’t being eased out the door as Sacramento’s police chief because two of his officers shot a mentally ill black man 16 times in a deadly north city confrontation. No, the story of Somers retiring in December, an announcement he made last week, is more nuanced than that. Breton column in Sacramento Bee


Attorney takes issue with how district responded to Opinski – An attorney for Greg Opinski, an embattled school board trustee and prominent Merced contractor, has spoken against the school board that censured Opinski last week and the Merced Union High School District for disclosing information in ongoing litigation. Merced Sun-Star article

Chowchilla proposes Redskin Way for high school road — The city of Chowchilla has moved to hang “Redskin Way” signs on the poles that line the street where Chowchilla High is found, thumbing its nose at the state decision to do away with what some say is the school’s offensive mascot. Merced Sun-Star article

El Diamante: The price of athletics – Ethan Cochran, a senior at El Diamante High School, is a model student. The bright, well-mannered teenager has steadily maintained a 4.25 GPA and is ranked third in his class. He was also a student athlete. While he planned to play on the school’s soccer team, his schedule didn’t allow time for the school’s mandatory strength training class. Ethan signed up for the school’s PE waiver, but was met with backlash from coaches and discouraged from trying out. Fed up with the school’s policy on weightlifting, parents have taken action against the school. Visalia Times-Delta article

Districts join new data sharing partnership – School districts and charter schools serving 1.7 million students in California will compile, analyze and compare data on student performance beyond what the state collects under a new agreement announced last week. EdSource article

Electricity sparks young Empire students — Electrons streaming – buzzers buzzed, lights flashed and tiny fans blasted dots of paper around the tables. Between the tugging fingers and the jabbering mouths, ideas were flying thick and heavy. This was real science. A kindergarten lesson on electricity came to life with snap-together components to complete simple circuits and power on/power off small devices. Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Youths can help hone General Plan — A potentially dry public meeting focusing on the abstract topic of how Stockton will plan and prepare for its next quarter-century might seem to belong atop an extremely short list of events a teenager might choose not to attend. But Tuesday night, 17-year-old Keeronn Pearson says he is going to attend what will be the first in a series of public workshops on Stockton’s General Plan amendment. And because the city purposefully scheduled the workshop in south Stockton, there’s something Pearson says he wants officials to understand. Stockton Record article‘General Plan by the numbers’ in Stockton Record 

Other areas

One of Modesto’s top managers to retire – One of Modesto’s top managers has announced that he is retiring. Deputy City Manager Brent Sinclair said he plans to retire Nov. 28 after 34 years of working for cities in planning and community/economic development. He worked in Arizona and Oklahoma before coming to Modesto in January 2007. Modesto Bee article

U.S. Poet Laureate inspires at Carnegie – About 150 people gathered at the Carnegie Arts Center on Sunday for a special poetry reading by U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. A smaller group also had the opportunity to meet Herrera during a book signing and reception prior to the reading. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian – It’s time to end this madness. Vote yes on Prop. 62 and no on Prop. 66.

Fresno Bee – Donald Trump’s gains on Hillary Clinton raise a question every voter needs to consider: Can we afford him as president?

Merced Sun-Star – Donald Trump’s gains on Hillary Clinton raise a question every voter needs to consider: Can we afford him as president?

Sacramento Bee – Drug pricing is too complex to fix with Prop 61. In short, a vote for this initiative is a protest vote. Real change, as Brown noted, can unfortunately come primarily from Congress and, in lesser ways, from the Legislature. It’s the only cure to this racket.