September 23, 2016


Political Stories  Top stories

Poll shows California move to legalize pot has broad voter support – Two decades after California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana, voters now overwhelmingly support an initiative to legitimize the drug for recreational use, according to a poll released late Thursday. Proposition 64, the well-funded initiative to allow those 21 and older to carry, use and share up to an ounce of marijuana, is backed by a 2-to-1 ratio of likely voters. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: Transportation, housing crises get short shrift in Legislature — The Legislature reconvenes in December, and it’s possible that Democrats will regain the two-thirds “supermajorities” they had lost in 2014. But the twin crises are not really partisan issues. Rather, they underscore the inherent difficulty of making policy in a large and complex state with countless, often adversarial, “stakeholders.” Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown 

Will Jerry Brown change mind about restriction on paid signature gatherers? — As Gov. Jerry Brown continues to wade through hundreds of bills sent to him in the Legislature’s end-of-session rush, some measures will look familiar – similar or virtually identical to legislation he has vetoed before. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Political Scramble: Someone’s makin’ bacon from campaign signs — This campaign sign story is sizzlin’: Bacon, normally a nonpartisan food, has come into play in the Nov. 8 general election. Someone potentially connected to the Bakersfield Bacon Festival or with a fondness for pork products has taken a Rep. Kevin McCarthy campaign sign and converted it to an advertisement for the upcoming event. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California gun control measure backed by wide margin of voters, new poll finds – A gun control initiative placed on the November ballot by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in the wake of several high-profile mass shootings is leading by a 2-to-1 ratio with strong support from liberals who live on the coast, a new poll shows. San Jose Mercury News article

 California, other states not doing enough to take guns from felons, new study finds — A national gun control group that helped write California’s Proposition 63 released a study Thursday indicating that thousands of felons disqualified from owning guns are keeping their firearms in this state and most others because of the lack of an effective enforcement mechanism. LA Times article

California propositions 2016 – Ready to make your way through a thicket of 17 California propositions on the November ballot? CALmatters is here to help you sort through the many thorny questions: Should we end the death penalty? Legalize marijuana? Extend taxes on the wealthy? Ban plastic bags? Raise taxes on cigarettes? Require actors in porn films to wear condoms? CALmatters article

Assemblymember Kristin Olsen: Prop 54 will shine a light on legislative secrecy – The Riverbank Republican writes, “Too much of what goes on in Sacramento happens in the middle of the night when the public isn’t watching. This is not healthy for our democracy. As former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once observed, ‘Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.’ It’s time to shine a light and modernize the legislative process, ending the backroom dealmaking that dominates too much of what goes on at the state Capitol.” Olsen op-ed in Modesto Bee

Sacramento Bee: Yes, we need schools, but not the Prop 51 $9 billion school bond – Public schools and community colleges deserve support. But Proposition 51 is inflated and relies on an outdated formula. Sacramento Bee editorial

Kings County officials eye marijuana ordinances — Kings County officials are preparing for potential issues if Californians vote to legalize recreational marijuana in the November election. The Kings County Board of Supervisors and the Lemoore City Council both discussed policies this week related to Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. County supervisors held a study session about the proposition while the Lemoore City Council had a first reading of its own ordinance on Tuesday. Hanford Sentinel article

Joel Fox: Initiative process only obstacle to Democrats total power – for now — Partisan dissatisfaction with the initiative process seems to be a little skewered from reality in the new Public Policy Institute of California poll given that the power in today’s state politics is nearly exclusively in the hands of Democrats. With such a situation, Republicans should embrace the initiative process as a way to leaven Democratic power. Instead, according to the poll, by a 36% to 23% margin Republicans are more likely to be dissatisfied with the process than Democrats. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Other areas

Some say tougher penalties for sex crimes could unfairly target California’s minority communities – Opponents to the legislation say they are not against holding sex offenders accountable. They say they are against proposals that continue to stack the deck against poor and minority offenders in a system they believe already is unequal in its treatment of those offenders. LA Times article

Beatris Espericueta Sanders: Surprise! Low foists $1.7 billion food tax on Americans – The executive director of the Kern County Farm Bureau writes, “AB 1066 will make California the only state in the entire country that provides overtime wages to agricultural workers after 8 hours a day or 40 hours per week. This change will add about $1.7 billion annually to the cost of growing food in California, a sum that will ultimately be passed along to consumers. And since eating isn’t really optional, this is effectively a $1.7 billion tax that California has decided to levy on the entire country.” Sanders op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Mayor Kevin Johnson draws cheers, criticism after slugging pie assailant – The bizarre incident on the campus of Johnson’s alma mater sparked widespread debate on social media over whether the mayor acted appropriately. Some argued that Johnson overreacted to a form of political theater used against public figures around the world, while others applauded the mayor for defending himself and his family in swift fashion. Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorial

Man who hit Sacramento mayor with pie: ‘He has to do better to represent people’ — The man who hit Kevin Johnson in the face with a coconut cream pie Wednesday night said he told the Sacramento mayor before the attack that “he has to do better to represent the people.” Sacramento Bee article

California Legislature videos to become public domain — Gov. Jerry Brown has approved legislation making video footage of California legislative meetings available for public use. AB884 places Assembly videos in the public domain, allowing people to use film of floor debates and committee hearings for political or commercial purposes. AP articleSacramento Bee article

 California auditor blasts PUC over spending, conflicts of interest — California’s energy regulator has lax control over its own spending, fails to disclose public records and allows its board members to travel at the expense of a nonprofit group closely tied to the companies it monitors, according to a stinging report from the state auditor’s office on Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

News Stories Top Stories

Yosemite blasted for ‘gender bias’ and ‘hostile work environment’ — Yosemite National Park suffers from a “toxic” leadership environment that has prompted numerous employee complaints and raises questions about Superintendent Don Neubacher’s future, a congressional hearing revealed Thursday. The allegations are serious enough that the Interior Department has launched a formal investigation, which is just getting underway. McClatchy Newspapers articleWashington Post article

A Pike Place-like market in Fresno? It just got a little more real – The longtime dream of creating a public market in downtown Fresno to showcase local produce and restaurants is finally becoming a reality. Bank of America awarded the Downtown Fresno Foundation a $25,000 grant to start work on a business plan that will help attract the money needed to launch the $20 million project, Mayor Ashley Swearengin announced during a news conference Thursday morning. Fresno Bee article

State school bond lagging in polls, threatening local projects – A $9 billion state construction bond that local school leaders are banking on passing this November is trailing in preliminary polls, which could leave some local districts struggling to complete projects they’ve already promised to voters. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Tulare County ranks no. 4 nationally in GDP growth — The gross domestic product in the Visalia-Porterville metropolitan statistical area increased by 7.6 percent in 2015, the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis reported. The area includes all of Tulare County. Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Rescue Mission to stop serving meals; future is uncertain – A sign posted near the front door of the Merced County Rescue Mission has sparked concerns that the facility, which provides food and shelter to the needy, would cease to operate. Merced Sun-Star article

Illegal homeless encampment near  I-5 cleared out again – The people illegally camping along Mormon Slough have come to anticipate the monthly uprooting during Caltrans’ cleanup efforts, but homeless individuals and advocates said enforcement has become more aggressive. Stockton Record article

Raises coming for California state government’s 27,000 managers – About 27,000 managers in California state government are about to get a 3 percent salary hike and a new deduction from their paychecks meant to offset the costs of the health care they’ll use in retirement. The raises come first. Sacramento Bee article

Bay-area startup moves to east Sacramento — Sacramento civic and business leaders on Thursday announced the arrival of another tech startup from the Bay Area – SupportPay. SupportPay, an automated child support payment system, opened recently is looking to grow to 300 employees in the next three years, its CEO told a crowd of business professionals gathered at the Crest Theatre. Sacramento Bee article

Protecting people and the piglet – heavy security for Golden 1 arena – Golden 1 Center is expected to be a long-term change maker in Sacramento, bringing development, commerce, crowds and excitement to the central city. It will also turn downtown into the most heavily policed spot in the region. Sacramento Bee article

In cranes’ shadows, LA strains to see a future with less sprawl — The powerful economic resurgence that has swept Southern California is on display almost everywhere here, visible in the construction cranes towering on the skyline and the gush of applications to build luxury hotels, shopping centers, high-rise condominiums and acres of apartment complexes from Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles. But it can also be seen in a battle that has broken out about the fundamental nature of this distinctively low-lying and spread-out city. New York Times article

Disneyland brings back Southern California annual passes at higher price — Two years after Disneyland discontinued an annual pass for Southern California residents, the Anaheim theme park is bringing the pass back — with a price increase. LA Times article

In San Francisco, a sinking skyscraper and a deepening dispute — The developers of the luxurious Millennium Tower laid out the risks and potential defects of the 58-story building in minute detail when its apartments went on sale seven years ago. New York Times article


Fresno hires exerts to research how to avoid water discoloration — The Fresno City Council on Thursday hired a pair of nationally recognized experts to make sure that the problems with discolored water plaguing the city’s Northeast Surface Water Treatment Plant don’t happen when a new treatment facility opens in southeast Fresno in 2018. Fresno Bee article

Sacramentans still conserving, but water use grew in August — Sacramentans continued to conserve water last month, although their total consumption grew compared with a year earlier. The Sacramento Regional Water Authority said Thursday that water consumption fell by 18 percent in August compared with August 2013, the baseline used by state drought regulators. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Amid scrutiny, state to track all police use of force that causes serious injury — From a broken bone to a fatal shooting, all 800 police departments in California must begin using a new online tool launched Thursday to report and help track every time officers use force that causes serious injuries. AP article

Michael Fitzgerald: Are authorities too lax on protestors – The Black Lives Matter demonstration in Stockton last Friday, which resulted in several innocent white female bystanders reportedly being “viciously assaulted,” was a travesty. It raises serious questions about the legitimacy of the local protesters (if they are local) as well as the wisdom of law enforcement’s handling of the demonstration. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

San Joaquin County sheriff’s task force busts 3 large-scale marijuana grows worth $3 million – The San Joaquin County Metro Narcotics Task Force eradicated two large-scale marijuana grows and one smaller grow Thursday in a rural part of southeast Stockton. Stockton Record article

Ex-Livingston police officer sentenced to three months in jail — Tyson Perry, a now former Livingston police officer, was sentenced Thursday to serve three months in jail for assaulting a handcuffed man in 2012, according to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office. Merced Sun-Star article


For the first time, California releases test scores for foster youth – and they’re not good – For the first time, California education officials have separated out the standardized test scores of the state’s foster youth — and advocates now have sobering proof of what they long suspected: These students are learning far less than their peers. LA Times article

Court refuses to mandate use of test scores in teacher evaluations – A judge in Northern California dealt a blow this week to a controversial campaign to make teachers more accountable for their students’ level of achievement, the second key setback in recent months for those behind the effort. LA Times article

Special Los Banos school board meeting draws residents’ ire over lack of quorum – Residents were fuming Thursday evening after Trustee Dennis Areias said a lack of quorum of the Los Banos Unified School District Board meant a special meeting to discuss a possible censure of trustee Tommy Jones, who faces criminal charges of bribery, would not happen. Los Banos Enterprise article

Robin Abcarian: A groundbreaking homeless shelter for college students in Santa Monica hits a snag – Shafer and his church have joined forces with Bruin Shelter, a new charity started byUCLA graduate students to help alleviate homelessness among college students. This is believed to be one of the first shelters for college students run by college students. LA Times article

Message of clean air hits home at Hidahl Elementary – A light harvest haze of dust and a slightly acrid scent of wildland fires wafting on a crisp breeze lent atmosphere to the art project at Hidahl Elementary’s after-school program, where a group of kids leaned over a large poster, illustrating ways to improve the Ceres air. Merced Sun-Star article

Dr. Oliver Rosales: In pursuit of innovation and collaboration in humanities – The professor of history at Bakersfield College writes, “California Humanities is very focused on expanding its reach into rural California, particularly the southern San Joaquin Valley. The Quick Grants program funds proposals in the range of $1,000 to $5,000 and will be awarded three times annually.” Rosales op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


State audit: California’s energy regulator open to improper influence from utilities, contractors — California’s energy regulator doesn’t guard against the appearance of improper influence from utilities when making decisions, fails to fully disclose important communications and skirts state rules when handing out contracts, according to a new state audit released Thursday.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Insurance Commissioner: California should ‘strongly’ consider a public option health plan — With major insurers retreating from the federal health law’s marketplaces, California’s insurance commissioner said he supports a public option at the state level that could bolster competition and potentially serve as a test for the controversial idea nationwide. KQED report

Brain tumor patients inspire blood, platelet drive — Is it possible that the angelic face of a 5-year-old girl fighting brain cancer could help recruit a whole new army of platelet donors, folks whose continuing donations could help save the lives of many future trauma and cancer patients who often count on such donations? The Bakersfield family of Abigail Segundo certainly hopes so. Bakersfield Californian article

Land Use/Housing

Clovis planning commissioners postpone decision on behavioral health hospital — After a lengthy and contentious public hearing, the Clovis Planning Commission postponed making a decision on a 102-bed behavioral health hospital that is promised to reduce the dearth of beds available in the Fresno area. Fresno Bee article


Expressway roundabout tussle may be winding down — One of the last remaining battles over potential paths for the future North County Corridor may be nearing an end, with momentum building for a tie-in with Highway 108 east of Oakdale at Lancaster Road. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Yahoo hacked: Personal data stolen from at least 500 million accounts — Yahoo Inc. suffered a data breach in 2014 that affected at least 500 million Yahoo user accounts, the company announced Thursday. LA Times articleMcClatchy Newspapers article

Hang on, Audra: The words that go with your big award from Obama are here. Somewhere … — Roosevelt High School graduate Audra McDonald reached a career pinnacle Thursday. The same probably couldn’t be said for the military aide who momentarily lost the Broadway star’s citation for a National Medal of Arts. President Barack Obama was poised to give the award in the historic East Room of the White House. Then this happened (quoting straight from the official transcript). McClatchy Newspapers article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Sacramento Bee – Public schools and community colleges deserve support. But Proposition 51 is inflated and relies on an outdated formula; Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson wasn’t quick to laugh off his pie assault. But there’s nothing funny about a pie attack; While Wells Fargo struggles to defend its handling of cross-selling scandal, Facebook and Google execs do well by doing good.

Stockton Record – We praise the many people working to make our city cleaner.