September 2, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

CD 23: McCarthy faces unlikely challenge – Raul Garcia has a question for Kevin McCarthy, the House’s No. 2 Republican: “While we are waiting for you on immigration reform, who should be harvesting America’s food?” It’s a provocative query and the foundation of Garcia’s long-shot challenge to McCarthy, a four-term incumbent who rose to power after another GOP leader thought unsinkable, Virginia’s Eric Cantor, fell to an unknown candidate in a primary.  AP article

Betty Yee stumps at Labor Day breakfast in Fresno – Yee might have been on Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s turf, but the state Board of Equalization member was among friends at the annual Labor Day breakfast for local unions held at the Fresno Fairgrounds. The day marked the second visit by Yee, a Democrat, to Fresno in the past two months. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Nine things to focus on for November election – With Labor Day behind us, Californians need to brace themselves for the tidal wave of ads, mailers, robo calls and door knocks between now and the Nov. 4 election.  San Jose Mercury News article

Bruce Maiman:  California Republicans badly need a new script – It’s not about cheering Brown or the Democrats, but if all Republicans have got is the fate of a train, which we don’t know, while ignoring the realities that we do know, they don’t have much to go on. Would it kill them to acknowledge the successes of their political opponents? At the very least, they could get some new material.  Maiman column in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Sacramento Bee: Legislators take a walk rather than expand campaign disclosure – In the legislative session just ended, state lawmakers gave speeches and cast votes intended to show they are on the side of good and open government. They did, in fact, approve some noteworthy restrictions on how they do business. But they took a collective walk on one of the most far-reaching measures of the year, Senate Bill 52.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Northern California district a GOP target to regain seats – Democratic Rep. Ami Bera of Elk Grove faces Republican businessman – and former congressman – Doug Ose of Citrus Heights as the GOP tries to wrest back the suburban Sacramento County seat that Bera grabbed from Rep. Dan Lungren two years ago.   San Francisco Chronicle article

Field Poll: Obama’s popularity dives to record low in California – President Barack Obama’s approval ratings have fallen to a record low in California, with nearly as many voters now disapproving of the job Obama is doing as approving. Only 45 percent of California voters hold a favorable view of Obama’s job performance, according to a new Field Poll released today.  Sacramento Bee article

Obama: ‘Revving’ economy calls for higher wages – President Barack Obama renewed his push for Congress to raise the minimum wage Monday in a buoyant accounting of the economy’s “revving” performance, delivered on behalf of Democrats opening their fall campaigns for the midterm congressional elections. AP article

Sacramento Bee: Senator is offended by his own bill – Sen. Ted Lieu shepherded important legislation past fierce opposition this year and should have been basking in the knowledge that he had protected college students and taxpayers. Instead, the Torrance Democrat announced that he would not be voting for his own bill, so irked was he about what had occurred in the Assembly.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Uber takes turn toward old-school politics – Uber bills itself as a leader in tech innovation, but when it came to fighting mandated insurance for its drivers, the ride-share giant turned to good old-fashioned hardball politics.  San Francisco Chronicle article

News Briefs

Top Stories

What’s in a name? For Cal State schools, it’s brand recognition – Amid increasing competition for students, faculty, staff and private funding, the schools are looking for ways to set themselves apart — while also maintaining the benefits of their association with the 23-campus, 420,000-student California State University system.  LA Times article

Fresno median home price surpasses $200,000 – The median price of an existing home in Fresno County has climbed past $200,000, a figure the market has not seen since the summer of 2008. As a result, the jump in price has sent the inventory of houses for sale up by almost 60% this summer compared to the year before, said Patrick Conner, president of London Properties.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Garcetti calls for boosting minimum wage to $13.25 after three years – Leading a Labor Day rally at a park in South Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti proposed on Monday creating a minimum wage in Los Angeles that would reach $13.25 after three years.  Garcetti was backed by billionaire businessman Eli Broad, County Federation of Labor chief Maria Elena Durazo and seven members of the City Council, who will have to approve the increase.  LA Times articleAP article

Eli Broad: Hiking LA’s minimum wage is a no-brainer – The founder of the Broad Foundations, KB Home and SunAmerica writes, “Of all major cities in the country, Los Angeles has the highest percentage of population living in poverty. After decades of slow job growth and stagnant wages, 28% of Angelenos — 1 million people — today live below the poverty line. Our city’s African American and Latino residents face disproportionately higher rates of poverty. The situation is heartbreaking and unconscionable.” Broad op-ed in LA Times

Small city puts spotlight on big CalPERS exit cost – A small but affluent Orange County city, with a current staff of only a half dozen employees, would have to pay about $3.6 million to leave CalPERS, the giant state pension system estimated two years ago.  Calpensions article

Detroit’s historic bankruptcy trial to begin – Lawyers for Detroit will attempt to convince a federal judge at the city’s bankruptcy trial that its plans to wipe out billions of dollars in debt should be approved. AP article

California a testing ground for new labor organizing strategies – California is seen as fertile ground for a new labor movement. The state is home to the largest number of union members in the nation – some 2.4 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Union organizers have used the state to test new recruiting strategies; but success has been limited.  KPCC report

Earthquake leaves Napa wine industry quietly tallying the damage – Since the 6.0-magnitude temblor, more than 100 wineries have reported earthquake damage, according to Napa Valley Vintners, a local trade association. But they’ve maintained a low profile. The few places that have done news interviews have steered clear of damage price tags and anything that could seem like wallowing in their loss. Other places have avoided media coverage altogether.  LA Times article

LA is largest manufacturing center in U.S., government says – The largest manufacturing workforce in the country is based in the Los Angeles, Long Beach and Santa Ana metropolitan area, according to government figures. As of July, the region had 510,900 manufacturing workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  LA Times article

Communities going into power business to cut cost, carbon footprint – Sonoma County, which enticed Americans to forsake factory-made food for artisan wines and farmers market produce, now wants consumers to reconsider another everyday commodity. New on the menu: locally curated energy. The county is at the forefront among eco-minded communities plunging into the power business nationwide. LA Times article

Modesto Nuts season a winner for young employees – As the Modesto Nuts closed out their season with a Labor Day game at John Thurman Field, it was the last day of work for the club’s seasonal employees. Not only does the minor-league franchise groom future stars for the big leagues, it provides valuable work experience for young people, who face the slimmest opportunities in the current job market.  Modesto Bee article


Oakdale Irrigation District to hear proposals for fallowing farmland – Proposals for fallowing farmland within the Oakdale Irrigation District so the irrigation water saved can be sold elsewhere will be discussed Tuesday morning.  Modesto Bee article

Does Sacramento face a future of water shortages? – As California weathers a third year of drought, debates have intensified over how to balance competing water needs: urban vs. rural; people vs. fish; north state vs. south. Against that backdrop, The Sacramento Bee spoke with a local water expert about what the drought means for the Sacramento metro area and how the region should adapt and respond.  Sacramento Bee article

‘Thirsty for Justice’ to be screened at 210 – ”Thirsty for Justice” documents stories from local communities as residents deal with lack of access to safe, clean and water. The film also includes the effort that became a movement and led to the Human Right to Water law in California, the lone U.S. state that has such a measure.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Livingston testing new electronic citation system – City of Livingston’s Police Department will start using a new electronic citation system, which according to officials will help increase efficiency.  Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno councilman, wife say intruder tried to break into their home – Fresno City Council Member Clint Olivier and his wife, Alisha, said in Facebook posts that someone who apparently was high on drugs tried to break in to their home Sunday evening.  Fresno Bee article


Fresno Bee: President Joseph Castro puts bold plans into much-needed action – Fresno State President Joseph Castro is putting his “Let’s be bold” slogan into action — much to the benefit of the university and the San Joaquin Valley.  Fresno Bee editorial

Analysis finds California students attend school more than their U.S. peers – California students attend school more consistently than most of their U.S. peers, and such attendance directly relates to better performance on national math and reading tests, a new analysis has found.  LA Times article

Parents’ ability to track student grades, attendance by smartphone has growing app-eal – As landlines and paper handouts disappear, local school districts are experimenting with new ways of reaching families. At Folsom Cordova and Natomas Unified school districts this year, that means launching an app that allows parents to keep tabs on their children almost anywhere and anytime.  Sacramento Bee article

Turlock Unified to weigh goals for school year as district grows – Turlock Unified trustees will be asked Tuesday to approve district goals for the coming school year, including scoping sites for a new central kitchen and a possible new elementary school in southeast Turlock, where a large subdivision is proposed.  Modesto Bee article

Pushing the Start button on a computer science curriculum for K-12 schools – Aspiring farmers and entertainers ought to be computer whizzes, according to the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. The nonprofit organization invited more than two dozen education and business leaders from across California last week to discuss how to make that happen.  LA Times article

Dean Vogel and Cheryl Scott Williams: We all have to pitch in to make Common Core work – Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association, and Williams, executive director of the Learning First Alliance, write, “We need to use this school year to make sure that our students get what they deserve from the new standards. Let’s fulfill the promise we made with the adoption of Common Core. Let’s get it right – for teachers, parents and, most importantly, for the new generation of students depending on all of us.”  Vogel/Williams op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Programs targets crucial summer before college – Summer bridge programs and other support during the summer after high school graduation can make the difference in whether graduating seniors who plan to go to college actually enroll.  EdSource article

Planada School District gets money from state to plan upgrades – Planada Elementary School is more than 60 years old and needs a major upgrade. The State Allocation Board has disbursed $272,962 to the Planada School District, which can be used for planning a six-pronged list of upgrades ultimately totaling $17 million. In June, Planada voters approved the $1.5 million Measure O bond, which goes into the kitty for modernization.  Merced Sun-Star article

Literacy program honors its best – Fenton, Learning Quest/Stanislaus Literacy Centers’ Volunteer Tutor of the Year for Literacy, spends about three hours a week with Cortes. In roughly a year and a half, she has gained six years in reading level, going from testing at third grade to reading like a high school freshman.  Modesto Bee article

High school to drop ‘Arab’ mascot that some found offensive – A Riverside County school district is planning to drop its school mascot “the Arab” after complaints that it was offensive. Last year, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee urged the district to eliminate the mascot — a man with a large nose and heavy beard wearing a kaffiyeh, a traditional Arab head covering — saying the school is perpetuating demeaning stereotypes.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

A call for a low-carb diet – People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fatlose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows.  New York Times article

Merced families cope with ALS – For Merced County resident Mike Dragovich, it started with continuous twitching in his left arm. His legs wouldn’t do what he wanted them to do. He had been a truck driver for decades, but one day found himself unable to get into and out of the truck’s cabin.  Merced Sun-Star article

Hanford helmets – Is equipment being provided by local high schools and youth football leagues enough to protect players from major head trauma that could lead to concussions? While no helmet can completely prevent injuries, providing players with the best available equipment is a priority on both the youth and high school level.  Hanford Sentinel article

Local player talks about his concussions – Tyler Bakker can tell you all about concussions. As the starting quarterback at Hanford West High School, he suffered two of them. The second, last fall, almost ended his playing career.  Hanford Sentinel article

U.S. eating habits improve a bit – except among poor – Americans’ eating habits have improved — except among the poor, evidence of a widening wealth gap when it comes to diet. Yet even among wealthier adults, food choices remain far from ideal, a 12-year study found.  AP article

Easy online access changes doctor-patient relationships – The days of waiting on hold and playing phone tag with the doctor’s office are diminishing for patients across the state and nation as more and more health providers implement patient portals. These interactive sites, which allow patients to message physicians, refill prescriptions and schedule appointments online, are bringing medical interactions into the digital age and prompting dramatic changes in doctor-patient relationships.  HealthyCal article

$250,000 award to fund renovations at Golden Valley Health Centers – Golden Valley Health Centers will be one of 147 community health organizations nationwide to receive Affordable Care Act funding to support patient-centered medical homes.  Merced Sun-Star article


Sacramento airport adds walking path from parking lot to terminals – Responding to users’ requests, Sacramento International Airport today will open a new pedestrian walkway from the daily surface parking lot to both air terminals.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: Highway 101 improvements should bypass unique redwood grove – Over the last six decades – mile by expensive mile – California’s transportation department has upgraded Highway 101 on the scenic North Coast from a narrow, twisting, two-lane road into a modern four-lane expressway. Well, not quite.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

New state bike law requires 3-foot buffer between cyclists, vehicles – As more bicyclists take to the streets, the number of frustrated motorists unaccustomed to sharing the road also is growing, prompting a new term for the conflict — bikelash. Now the state has enacted a new law that goes into effect Sept. 16 that seeks to codify the common sense and courtesy drivers should display that mandates a 3-foot buffer between cyclists and vehicles.  LA Daily News article

Other Areas

Firefighters, police, code enforcement team up to stop fires in vacant structures – The combination of the still-slumping housing market and critical drought conditions has made the situation worse and brought firefighters, Code Enforcement officers and Bakersfield police together to remove squatters and make sure properties are boarded up. The empty structures, Battalion Chief Danny Brown said, lead “to drug activity, (and) juveniles and adults doing things that lead to fires,” he said.  Bakersfield Californian article

Infrastructure cracks as LA defers repairs – With each day, it seems, another accident illustrates the cost of deferred maintenance on public works, while offering a frustrating reminder to this cash-strained municipality of the daunting task it faces in dealing with the estimated $8.1 billion it would take to do the necessary repairs. The city’s total annual budget is about $26 billion.  New York Times article

Stanislaus Consolidated to provide services to Oakdale fire departments – The Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District will provide services to the city of Oakdale and the Oakdale Fire Protection District under a five-year contract that began Monday.  Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Fresno State President Joseph Castro is putting his “Let’s be bold” slogan into action — much to the benefit of the university and the San Joaquin Valley.

Merced Sun-Star – Giving thanks for 50 years of wilderness preservation.

Modesto Bee – Giving thanks for 50 years of wilderness preservation.

Sacramento Bee – In the legislative session just ended, state lawmakers gave speeches and cast votes intended to show they are on the side of good and open government. They did, in fact, approve some noteworthy restrictions on how they do business. But they took a collective walk on one of the most far-reaching measures of the year, Senate Bill 52; Sen. Ted Lieu shepherded important legislation past fierce opposition this year and should have been basking in the knowledge that he had protected college students and taxpayers. Instead, the Torrance Democrat announced that he would not be voting for his own bill, so irked was he about what had occurred in the Assembly.