September 2, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Jerry Brown’s donors offered ‘small dinners’ with governor while he weighs legislation — While Gov. Jerry Brown prepares to act on hundreds of bills sent to him by the Legislature in its end-of-session rush, the California Democratic Party has offered prospective donors to Brown’s political causes access to a series of small dinners with him. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: Legislature did much, but full impacts of big items remain unknown – The biennial legislative session that ended very early Thursday morning amassed a very substantial record of action – some positive, some negative and much whose real effects won’t be known for years. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Top Valley cops join Mims in attack on Prop 57; Brown slammed by ‘Dog’ — Valley law enforcement leaders Thursday gathered to urge a “no” vote on Proposition 57, which advocates say will amend the state constitution to allow parole consideration for “non-violent” felons, and opponents argue will endanger public safety through an early release of offenders convicted of violent crimes such as rape and assault with a deadly weapon. Fresno Bee article

Gov. Brown

Sacramento Bee: Brown should sign one Brock Turner bill, veto the other – One measure would mandate much harder time for future Brock Turners; unfortunately, it’s so heavy-handed and pro-prosecution that it would be counterproductive. The other, which would broaden California’s definition of rape, makes sense.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Court spurns effort on Brown’s alleged San Onofre communications — A state appellate court late Wednesday turned back efforts by San Diego attorney Michael Aguirre to obtain communications he says may have occurred between Gov. Jerry Brown and the Public Utilities Commission relating to the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant. Sacramento Bee article

Janitors urge Brown to sign bill boosting sexual assault protections — Janitors who have survived sexual assault at work and their supporters are demanding Gov. Jerry Brown sign legislation increasing protections in the industry and have planned actions across the state to get more attention. KQED report 

Valley politics

 CD 10: Polls diverge in race for Modesto-area House seat – A new poll done for Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, shows him leading Democrat Michael Eggman by 22 percentage points, but the challenger’s camp says the race is much closer. Modesto Bee article

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin endorses Lee Brand as her successor — Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who will leave office at the end of the year after serving eight years as the city’s top elected official, on Thursday endorsed City Councilman Lee Brand to be her replacement. Fresno Bee article

Political Scramble: The inside scoop on this year’s elections — This tactic won’t work all the time, but at Tuesday’s mayoral debate for young people, candidates Kyle Carter and Karen Goh turned the tables on their questioners. Bakersfield Californian article

Surge in San Joaquin County voter registration prompts call for thousands of poll workers — A big surge in voter registration is prompting a call for thousands of poll workers in San Joaquin County. The elections chief there expects one of the biggest turnouts in recent memory for the November election.San Joaquin County will have to staff 325 polling places on election day and will likely hire 2,000 poll workers. Capital Public Radio report

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Democrats again gunning for legislative supermajorities — With California’s legislative session finally behind us, attention turns to the fall elections, where Republicans are largely crouched in a defensive position and Democrats are looking to expand the electoral map. Sacramento Bee article

 Democrats dominating California Legislature advanced a broad liberal agenda – Democrats’ list of this year’s accomplishments encompasses an array of policy areas with a sweep that should warm the hearts of most liberal constituencies. Courage Campaign, an organization that reflects the party’s left flank, said 2016 capped the most progressive legislative session in California’s history. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Jerry Brown convinces counties association not to oppose parole measure – The state organization representing county governments decided Thursday to not take a position on Proposition 57, the revamping of California’s prison parole system that is being championed by Gov. Jerry Brown. LA Times article

 7 ways recreational pot would change California – and 7 ways it would not – California’s Prop 64 would make recreational marijuana legal in the state.   If the law passes, it would mean a big shift in the way the Golden State — already the largest market for pot in the U.S. — regulates marijuana. It could also mean big changes in enforcement, as well as the habits and health of Californians. KPCC report

 Gavin Newsom on recreational pot: ‘We don’t want this to become the next gold rush’ — Newsom pitches the initiative as a social justice issue that could cut costs for the state’s justice system and provide a new source of income for the state and its citizens. Still, as he tells Take Two, he has concerns about the economic incentives behind the prospect of legalizing pot. KPCC report

 Bakersfield Californian: Stabilize state budget: Vote YES on Prop 55 – Voters are urged to vote yes on Prop. 55. In the decade-plus this extended “temporary” tax will buy, they must demand that legislators get serious about reforming California’s tax system to bring stability and accountability to state finances. Bakersfield Californian editorial

 Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez asks governor to sign bill on sentencing for sexual assault — U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Orange) asked the governor Wednesday to sign a bill to impose mandatory minimum sentences on some sexual assault perpetrators. LA Times article

 Bill Whelan: Sure looks like Steyer is running – Maybe Tom Steyer, by assuming no formal introduction to voters is necessary, isn’t so much arrogant as he is astute. The longer you don’t know he’s wealthy, the more you might like him. Unless you happen to be competing against those hedge-fund profits. Whelan column in Sacramento Bee

 Head of California’s watchdog agency dedicated to ‘helping people do the right thing’ — Jodi Remke has been called both a political watchdog and a tough enforcer. Earlier this month she was dubbed one of the most powerful players in state politics–number 46 on Capitol Weekly’s Top 100 list–for her work as chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Appointed to the position by Governor Jerry Brown in 2014, Remke leads the FPCC in overseeing governmental ethics, lobbying, and campaign finance throughout California. California Forward report

 Sen. Boxer to donate congressional papers to UC Berkeley — U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is leaving Capitol Hill, but the record of her work will find a new home at the University of California, Berkeley. AP article


 In debate over ‘sanctuary cities,’ a divide on the role of local police — In limiting cooperation with the federal immigration authorities, some local law enforcement officials contend that they are making their jurisdictions safer by encouraging undocumented immigrants to take the risk of coming forward to report crimes. But those who see immigration violations as serious offenses contend that such policies lead to criminality.New York Times article

 Other areas

 Legislature wraps up session, sends hundreds of bills to governor – The Legislature has been meeting throughout the month of August taking final votes on hundreds of bills. Gov. Jerry Brown now has a month to review and act on them. Below we highlight some of the major legislation lawmakers took up in their final weeks of session. KQED report; Capital Public Radio report

 California lawmakers enter final weeks of Congress seeking success – San Joaquin Valley lawmakers will hit Capitol Hill after Labor Day with bleak prospects for completing some legislation once introduced with high hopes. McClatchy Newspapers article

 Nearly all California workers would be eligible for a retirement plan under bill headed to governor – A plan to create a state-run retirement program for nearly all private workers in California passed out of the Legislature late Wednesday and now awaits approval by Gov. Jerry Brown. LA Times article

 Brock Turner going home; fallout from Stanford case continues – When Brock Turner walks out of jail Friday after serving half of a widely reviled six-month sentence for good behavior, he’ll return to a hot political landscape. Turner will return to his home state, Ohio, where he will spend three years on probation. San Jose Mercury News article

 Californians would pay $1 car battery fee for toxic cleanup under bill sent to governor – Californians who purchase lead-acid car batteries would pay a $1 fee under legislation sent to Gov. Jerry Brown early Thursday morning, with the funds earmarked for cleaning contaminated sites, including communities near the former Exide battery plant in Los Angeles County. LA Times article

 How a bid to overhaul California’s energy regulator fell apart on Legislature’s last day of session – A major effort to overhaul the state’s energy regulator surprisingly collapsed after late legislative maneuverings led to the unraveling of the broad coalition that had pushed for changes at the scandal-ridden agency. LA Times article

 Development interests defeat bills seeking to improve transparency at California Coastal Commission – Business, labor and pro-development interests on Wednesday night defeated two bills designed to improve transparency at the powerful California Coastal Commission. LA Times article

 Will state ban property seizure from people who aren’t criminals? — The putative goal of civil asset forfeiture is simple: to deny drug dealers working capital and divert the value of their assets to crime-fighting efforts. But a growing chorus of critics from both the left and right have condemned it as “policing for profit,” arguing that it strips citizens of their goodswithout due process. After overcoming objections from some in law enforcement, a bill to curtail the practice cleared the Legislature by a wide margin and is awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature. CALmatters article

 Ken Mettler: Kaepernick is just another spoiled, ignorant celebrity – The Bakersfield independent businessman writes, “There is a time and place for political free speech. Mr. Kaepernick, as a football team leader, should give America the respect it deserves by standing in unity with his fellow Americans.” Mettler op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Presidential Politics

 Latino supporters of Donald Trump bid adieu after his immigration speech – Donald Trump has held photo ops with his National Hispanic Advisory Council and in recent weeks boasted about his increasing support from this crucial voting demographic.  But that was before his speech on immigration this week. On Thursday, several who sit on the council announced their resignation, citing Trump’s refusal to truly listen to their views on immigration reform.  LA Times article

 Fernando Jara: Understanding Trump’s appeal to otherwise reasonable voters – The Pastor of RockHills Disciplines of Christ writes, “Democrats and Republics alike should read closely the Aug. 26 article by Angelo A. Haddad, ‘Coarseness trumps corruption: It’s about Supreme Court, folks!’ It is a crystal-clear synopsis of the political ideology of an avid Donald Trump supporter. If one sifts through the tirade against Hilary Clinton and her husband, we find the bedrock of Trump’s effectiveness in conveying his platform to his supporters.” Jara op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

News Stories

Top Stories

Fund aims to crowdsource money to fix up Fulton Street buildings — Building revitalization efforts on the Fulton Mall, now Fulton Street, in downtown Fresno is going to the locals. A new investment fund that launched Thursday will allow members of the community to pool their money together, buy downtown real estate and fix it up. No need to wait for big developers or wealthy investors. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Arguing Stockton’s case against Delta tunnels plan – Firpo is one of a handful of Stockton business owners and activists who will file formal written testimonies Friday as opponents prepare to argue why regulators should not allow the tunnels to be built. The testimonies, to be part of Stockton-based Restore the Delta’s broader case against the tunnels later this fall, attempt to show how everyday residents could be affected by a project that sometimes seems far-off and distant, the domain of water wonks and environmentalists. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Ken Carlson: Tipster says someone in Stanislaus County is evading $2.5 million in taxes — Someone who owns land in western Stanislaus County has dodged $2.5 million in property taxes, according to a tipster who wants the county to offer a reward for turning in tax evaders. Carlson in Modesto Bee

Want free McCartney tickets? Just ask the city – How much would you pay for luxury-suite tickets to a Paul McCartney show at Golden 1 Center? How about nothing? The city expects to have 40 free tickets just waiting for the taking, 20 for each of the twoMcCartney shows scheduled to open the new downtown arena Oct. 4 and 5. The coveted passes might be given to lucky community organizations and nonprofits, according to a new ticketing policy that will be voted on at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Sacramento Bee article

Stanislaus County Fair announces new deal to keep Turlock Turf Club open — Local horse players hit the exacta on Thursday with word that the Turlock Turf Club will remain open for business, at least for now. Stanislaus County Fair officials announced that the Turf Club will be rented to Northern California Off Track Inc., which will run the satellite horse racing facility. Modesto Bee article


Mark Arax: Phantoms in the fields: Mexican workers drawn to harvest California crops, despite hardships and talk of a wall – The Fresno author writes, “There’s a stretch of Highway 99 in the middle of California where the new plantings of almonds at last give way to vineyards. This is where Selma, raisin capital of the world, still lives and dies by the grape. When the berries sugar up fast, as they have this year, harvest comes early.” Arax op-ed in Fresno Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Dylan Noble’s mother files wrongful-death lawsuit against Fresno police – The attorney representing the mother of Dylan Noble, who was fatally shot by Fresno police after a traffic stop in June, has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the city that contends two officers used excessive force when they shot the 19-year-old as he lay wounded. Fresno Bee article; ‘Lawyers contend a police dog could have save Dylan Noble’s life.  They made this video to prove it’ in Fresno Bee

Jail visitation bill could cost Kings County millions – A bill requiring jails to provide inmates with in-person visitation could cost Kings County millions of dollars to implement. Hanford Sentinel article

Stockton Police Department: Newest officer swells ranks to 415 — Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones swore in one new officer, welcomed in five other new officers and introduced four new trainees Thursday as the Police Department continued to build on its burgeoning staffing numbers. Jones presented the new additions to his department during a badge-pinning ceremony in the Community Room on the second floor of the Police Department’s downtown headquarters. The department now has 415 sworn officers, the highest level of staffing it has achieved since cutbacks crippled the city’s police force in 2009. Stockton Record article

Why small rural counties send more people to prison – The stark disparities in how counties punish crime show the limits of recent state and federal changes to reduce the number of inmates. Far from Washington and state capitals, county prosecutors and judges continue to wield great power over who goes to prison and for how long. And many of them have no interest in reducing the prison population. New York Times article

Man charged with firing at officers during standoff takes plea deal – A 49-year-old man who authorities say fired at officers as he barricaded himself inside a trailer in north Bakersfield last year accepted a plea agreement Thursday and faces 29 years in prison. Bakersfield Californian article

Crowds expected outside jail for Brock Turner’s release— Large crowds are expected to gather outside the Santa Clara County Main Jail in San Jose on Friday when a man convicted of sexually assaulting a woman during a party at Stanford University last year will be released after serving a short sentence. San Francisco Chronicle article

San Diego County to pay $2.3 million in case of inmate who died after swallowing baggie of meth — San Diego County has agreed to pay $2.3 million to the family of a man who died in San Diego’s Central Jail in 2012 from a drug overdose, the second time in less than two years that taxpayers have funded a multimillion-dollar settlement over an inmate’s death. LA Times article

Long Beach police officers cleared in fatal 2014 shooting of man fleeing down stairs —  Two Long Beach police officers who shot and killed a fleeing suspect in a 2014 incident that was captured on video will not face criminal charges, prosecutors announced this week. LA Times article


Fellow trustee says Opinski should resign – At least one Merced Union High School District trustee is ready to call for the resignation of fellow board member Greg Opinski, who faces allegations that he bribed a Los Banos school trustee to win a construction contract. Merced Sun-Star article

Mueller recalled from Los Banos school board, Martinez elected – Amid a tumultuous week for the Los Banos Unified School District board of trustees, the Merced County Election’s Office confirmed Thursday that votes cast last week narrowly favored removing John Mueller from the board. But it’s unclear whether the fight is over. Merced Sun-Star article

Moira Harada: CART students lead way to a better Fresno – The teacher in the Law and Policy Lab at CART writes, “When most people think of civic education, they imagine a classroom with rows of desks, textbooks, and maybe the American flag on the wall. At the Center for Advanced Research and Technology, we have always done things a little differently. We have grouped tables and office-style chairs. The American flag is still on the wall, but instead of just lecture and books, we focus on problem-solving as a style of education. What better way is there to teach about civics than through civic involvement?” Harada op-ed in Fresno Bee

 Changing the odds for ask-risk kids – Give young children and their families the tools and resources to encourage early literacy and they will respond. That was the message spread by Susan B. Neuman, an author and New York University professor, during a public dialogue at the Vereschagin Alumni House at University of the Pacific on Thursday morning. Stockton Record article

 Merced College board takes up status of professor – The status of a Merced College professor who is linked to a controversy over an anonymous letter was the focus of a special, closed-session meeting by the school’s board of trustees Thursday, according to the woman’s lawyer. Merced Sun-Star article

Tom Hallinan: Why I couldn’t vote to censure Anne DeMartini – The Yosemite Community College District trustee writes, “Trustee DeMartini should not have sent the email. It was wrong, and there is no excuse for it. However, her right to free speech should not otherwise be chilled because she asks tough questions of people who are well compensated to answer them.” Hallinan op-ed in Modesto Bee

Judge tosses San Francisco law preventing teacher evictions – A Superior Court judge has tossed out a San Francisco city ordinance that made it illegal to evict teachers and child care providers during the school year, a law city officials hoped would help stem the exodus of educators being priced out of the city. San Francisco Chronicle article

 Parent group withdraws suit against school vaccination law – A coalition of parents has dropped its lawsuit challenging California’s new vaccination law that prohibits parents whose children attend public or private schools from opting out of required vaccinations based on their personal beliefs. EdSource article

 Counties turn to ‘transition specialists’ to help students in court schools succeed — Counties across California are stepping up efforts to ensure that students going to schools in juvenile detention facilities make it back to their communities — and have a fighting chance to succeed in school and life. EdSource article

High school students gain confidence through art — Art classes can be a place to explore, experiment and develop critical thinking skills, and local high schools are recognizing art’s importance with classes in drawing, painting and ceramics. Hanford West High School art teacher Ellice Blevins said art is a passion for many students. Hanford Sentinel article

Ex-Cal football player files lawsuit over concussions — A former Cal linebacker blames his severe headaches, dementia and memory loss on concussion-related injuries he sustained while playing for the school in 1970 and 1971 — what he described as lifetime debilitations that pushed him to file a lawsuit Thursday against the NCAA and Pac-12 Conference. San Francisco Chronicle article

This Mojave Desert solar plant still struggling to prevent bird incinerations — Federal biologists say about 6,000 birds die from collisions or immolation annually while chasing flying insects around the facility’s three 40-story towers, which catch sunlight from five square miles of garage-door-size mirrors to drive the plant’s power-producing turbines.  LA Times article

Legislature declines to add ‘environmental justice’ members to Southern California air quality board —  The state Legislature has rejected a controversial measure that would have shifted the political balance of Southern California’s air-quality board by adding three state-appointed “environmental justice” members to represent low-income communities suffering from pollution. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

 Tulare Regional Medical Center approves $800,000 loan – Tulare Regional Medical Center board of directors approved an $800,000 loan Thursday during a standing-room only special meeting at Evolutions. Visalia Times-Delta article

New director hired to lead Marjaree Mason Center — Nicole DiBuduo Linder has been named the new executive director of the Marjaree Mason Center, the Fresno organization that shelters and supports domestic-violence victims. Fresno Bee article

Stem cell company paid $443,500 to former head of state agency that funds research — The former president of the $3 billion California stem cell agency received $443,500 in total compensation from the Bay Area stem cell company that appointed him to its board of directors only seven days after he left his state post. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Long-delayed Bakersfield Commons project moves forward – Bakersfield Commons, the long-delayed mixed-use development in the northwest, moved closer to construction Thursday when the city planning commission approved zone changes, a general plan amendment and an addendum to the project’s environmental report. Bakersfield Californian article


Tougher enforcement leads to fewer fare cheats on Sacramento’s light rail — The number of fare evaders on Sacramento Regional Transit light-rail trains dropped precipitously this summer after RT quadrupled its fare checker force, district officials said Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

Growing Sacramento airport scores $16 million federal grant — Sacramento International Airport has won $16 million to help refurbish its east taxiway, Sacramento Rep. Doris Matsui said Thursday. The money, from the Federal Aviation Administration, boosts the airport’s plans for a $35 million airport flight field upgrade, and helps reduce the amount the airport needs to draw from airline and flier fees for the project. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Top Bakersfield development official resigns – Bakersfield’s top development official, Community Development Director Doug McIsaac, resigned last Friday citing personal reasons, Assistant City Manager Steve Teglia confirmed Thursday afternoon. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno City Council approves Sikh genocide resolution – The Fresno City Council voted Thursday night to recognize the 1984 killings of thousands of Sikhs in India as a genocide. An estimated 500 Sikhs came from as far as Sacramento, trying to find a spot inside the City Council chambers that holds 250 people. Buses transported community members from Sikh temples to City Hall to show their support. Fresno Bee article

Animal shelter volunteers use social media to reunite pets with families – Welcome to Kern Pet Detective, a Facebook page created in March and operated by a small team of volunteers at the Kern County Animal Shelter on Fruitvale Avenue. The volunteer effort has one goal in mind: to return more stray dogs to their owners. Bakersfield Californian article

Joshue Tehee: Show your civic pride, dress down with Fresno Friday T-shirt day — Here’s a bit of news that slipped past the beat reporters at City Hall: Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin gave casual Fridays an official proclamation. In June, the mayor declared the end of each week, through the end of her term (Dec. 30, for those keeping track) as Fresno Friday T-shirt Day, celebrated by wearing a T-shirt “that symbolizes pride in the City of Fresno, its citizens, its institutions, its history and culture.” Tehee in Fresno Bee