September 22, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

What can be wrong at Yosemite? Lawmakers want to know — The National Park Service could be in for a rough day Thursday, as officials from Yosemite and Grand Canyon are scheduled to testify at a congressional hearing on alleged mismanagement in the agency. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Poll shows voters like tax hikes, legal pot, while school bonds lag – California fall initiatives to legalize recreational marijuana for adults and hike the cigarette tax by $2 per pack are supported by clear majorities of likely voters, while a virtually unopposed statewide school bond measure is surveying below the 50-percent threshold, according to a new poll. Sacramento Bee article 

Is a plan to end the death penalty on the ropes in California? – A plurality of likely voters backs the latest ballot effort to repeal the death penalty in California and shutter the nation’s largest death row, but support remains below the 50 percent threshold needed, a new poll shows. Sacramento Bee article; KQED report

Gov. Brown 

Fresno Bee: Gov. Brown, there’s more work to do in Fresno – We encourage Gov. Brown to make added investments that will support our community’s vision – and his vision – of Fresno as a state and world leader in providing economic opportunity, cleaning dirty air and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Fresno Bee editorial 

Modesto Bee: Gov. Brown is right, we must ‘agree’ on rivers – Some comments carry more weight than others – such as comments from Gov. Jerry Brown. Modesto Bee editorial 

What will Jerry Brown do on rape, prostitution, asset forfeiture bills? — With more than 600 bills to sign or veto before a Sept. 30 deadline, Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to weigh in on significant public safety legislation, including bills affecting prostitution, rape and the ability of felons to vote. Here are five bills worth watching. Sacramento Bee article 

Jerry Brown pondering family leave, anti-discrimination bills – Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation earlier this month granting agricultural workers the same right to overtime pay as other Californians, and on Wednesday he signed a relatively minor bill to improve working conditions at nail salons. But as the Democratic governor wades through nearly 600 more bills sent to him by the Legislature in its end-of-session rush, he still has other labor matters to consider. Here are two bills worth watching. Sacramento Bee article

California governors signs ban on park name trademarks — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation prohibiting ownership claims over California state park names after a dispute that led to renaming beloved sites at Yosemite National Park. AP article 

Override Jerry Brown’s veto? Not likely to happen – As of midday Wednesday, one-half of the more than 160 bills Brown has vetoed in the two-year session have cleared the Legislature without a dissenting vote on either floor, according to legislative records, far surpassing the two-thirds threshold necessary to override a veto. Sacramento Bee article

Jerry Brown signs measure to improve working conditions in nail salons — In an effort to improve working conditions at California nail salons, Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed legislation requiring state regulators to give salons written information about basic labor laws translated into English, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese. Sacramento Bee article

Brown says he’ll push California’s climate change agenda whoever wins in November – Governor Jerry Brown says he will continue to push California’s climate change policies, no matter the results of November’s presidential election. KQED report

Valley politics

Jeff Jardine: Assembly candidates Vogel, Flora gear up for final campaign wars – They’ve been awfully quiet since June, at least in public. That is when Ken Vogel, 71, of Linden and political neophyte Heath Flora, 33, of Ripon emerged as the finalists for the 12th District Assembly seat being vacated by terming-out Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Video: Off the Press: Harold Hanson — Ward 5 Councilman Harold Hanson was our guest on ‘Off The Press.’ Hanson is seeking reelection, but faces a challenge from two other candidates — Jeff Tkac and Ryan Nance — in November’s election. Bakersfield Californian video

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

George Skelton: Prop 55 feeds voter cynicism by extending a ‘temporary’ tax on the rich — When politicians backpedal on their word — bait and switch and play voters for suckers — they further erode public confidence in our democratic institutions. Skelton column in LA Times 

Would California’s proposed tobacco tax hike reduce smoking? Just ask New Yorkers – In New York City, smoking rates declined from 22 percent of the local population to 15 percent in the decade that the tax, and a ban on smoking in restaurants and bars, was implemented. KQED report

Sentenced to die? Depends on the county in California — As California voters weigh two ballot measures this fall to either abolish the death penalty or institute changes that aim to expedite it, fewer counties are sending murderers to death row. Sacramento Bee article

Konrad Moore: Death-penalty justice depends on where you live – The Kern County Public Defender, writing in his own individual capacity, writes, “Certainly, none of us want to believe that justice depends on where we live. But in California it most certainly does.” Moore op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

PolitiFact CA: Did California spend $5 billion to execute 13 people? – Tom Steyer said recently: “Since 1978, California has spent $5 billion to put 13 people to death.” But that cost has been spread over hundreds of cases since 1978, not just the 13 that led to executions.California currently has more than 700 inmates on death row. Prosecuting and housing each costs the state significantly year after year. Steyer’s claim might have been correct if he had said taxpayers have spent $5 billion on a system that’s resulted in 13 executions. Instead, his words leave the impression California paid the entire $5 billion for a fraction of its hundreds of cases. We rate Steyer’s claim Mostly False. PolitiFact CA article 

Tobacco companies mislead voters in Prop 56 ads on school funding – Similar to an earlier ad funded by the tobacco companies, the new commercial contains inaccurate claims about school funding and omits information to mislead voters. It is a stretch to say Proposition 56 “cheats schools of $600 million a year.” Nothing in the measure reduces school funding from current levels. If the measure passes, the education budget doesn’t decrease.Sacramento Bee article 

Bakersfield Californian: Vote no: Prop 63 piles on redundant gun controls — There is such a thing as “piling on.” You see this often when public outrage collides with politicians yearning to grandstand. This is what is happening with Proposition 63, a November ballot measure that proposes to lock a package of far-reaching gun control laws into the state’s constitution. Bakersfield Californian editorial 

Bakersfield Californian: No on Prop 64: State not ready to legalize marijuana – No doubt, the recreational use of marijuana will someday — likely soon — become legal. But that day should not be today. Simply, California is not prepared to become the epicenter of the nation’s marijuana industry. Bakersfield Californian article 

Sacramento Bee: Give students and parents more choice – The world has changed since 1998, and language instruction must keep up so California students can compete in the global economy. Proposition 58 will help. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Two Senate polls were released Wednesday – with very different results — Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez is either gaining ground on Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris in California’s U.S. Senate race or she’s dropping like a stone, according to two polls released on Wednesday. LA Time article;Sacramento Bee article 

$9 billion school bond struggling to gain support, poll says – A $9 billion state school construction bond measure is facing stiff headwinds six weeks before the November election, with less than half of likely voters supporting it, according to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California. EdSource article 

All the California and LA ballot propositions, described in haiku — The next president is far from the only thing California voters will be deciding when they cast their ballots. California has 17 propositions up for a vote on issues ranging from the death penalty to legalizing marijuana to requiring actors in pornographic films to use condoms. Voters in L.A. will also make decisions about things like housing and transit. One man has written all of them up in easy-to-digest haiku form. LA Times article 


Immigrants aren’t taking Americans’ jobs, new study finds – Do immigrants take jobs from Americans and lower their wages by working for less? The answer, according to a report published on Wednesday by theNational Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, is no, immigrants do not take American jobs — but with some caveats. New York Times article 

Syrian refugee family reflects on successes, struggles in Modesto — A Syrian refugee family, the subject of a special report by ABC News’ “Nightline” program, reflects on its past year since being resettled in Modesto. Modesto Bee article 

Other areas 

Feinstein retreating from 9/11 victims’ bill that she co-sponsored – California Sen. Dianne Feinstein is joining a growing number in Congress who are reconsidering their support for a bill that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over its alleged backing of the terrorists who committed the attacks. McClatchy Newspapers article

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson assaulted with pie at benefit dinner – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was hit in the face with a pie Wednesday night at a benefit dinner at Sacramento Charter High School, and got into a brief physical altercation with his assailant, the mayor’s spokeswoman said. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Hate crimes against Muslims in California skyrocketed 122 percent, study says – Anti-Muslim hate crimes reported in California rose 122% between 2014 and 2015, according to a recent analysis by Cal State San Bernardino researchers. LA Times article 

Joel Fox: Tsunami of local taxes headed for state’s taxpayers — Taxpayers beware: A tax tsunami is headed your way. According to a report compiled by the California Taxpayers Association, a record number 421 local taxes and bonds (paid by increased property taxes) will hit the state’s many local jurisdictions in November. In addition to the up to $10-plus billion a year in taxes on the state ballot, 228 local taxes could add $3 billion a year in taxes and 193 bonds an additional nearly $32 billion. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Steve Lopez: Who should pay fines if coastal commissioners are found guilty of breaking rules? Them or taxpayers — The suit was not filed against the California Coastal Commission, which is made up of 12 politically appointed commissioners and more than 100 staff members. It was filed against individual commissioners. If the court rules that there were violations, each could be fined a small fortune, ranging from hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $1 million. This raises more than a few questions, among them: Who should pay for commissioners’ legal defense, and if fines are levied against them, who should pick up the tab — the commissioners or the taxpayer-funded Coastal Commission? Lopez column in LA Times 

Presidential Politics 

Cathleen Decker: ‘Broad shoulders’ and ‘a presidential look’: The Trump campaign uses gender to try to undercut Clinton’s candidacy —What do voters hear when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, in interview after interview, praises his running mate Donald Trump’s “broad shoulders”? What do they hear when Trump repeatedly criticizes Hillary Clinton for not looking presidential — “and you need a presidential look”? Or when he time and again calls into question her strength and stamina? Many people, to use one of Trump’s favorite phrasings, hear an effort to raise questions about whether a woman can serve as president. Decker in LA Times

News Stories

Top Stories

Hanford mulls huge marijuana offer as Clovis, Lemoore reject pot farms – It was a big week for pot in the Valley. As the state counts down to the likely approval of recreational marijuana use in the November election, three city governments examined their current guidelines. The Hanford City Council dealt with a bomb dropped in its lap at its Tuesday meeting. Keith Stephenson, owner of a Bay Area medical marijuana distribution company, is currently in escrow on an industrial park – formerly a Pirelli tire plant – in south Hanford. He wants to turn it into one of the state’s largest medical marijuana cultivation and distribution operations, which he said would provide $14 million per year to a city whose annual general fund now totals $24 million. He will need Hanford to adjust its city laws – and fast – to make that happen. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article; Hanford Sentinel article 

Protestors may have lost protection from prosecution – The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office has declined to prosecute most low-level crimes committed by demonstrators protesting officer-involved shootings in Stockton in recent years. The District Attorney’s Office has cited Supreme Court rulings and protections set forth under the United States Constitution, but protesters might have lost those protections after Friday’s demonstration turned violent, authorities said. Stockton Record article 

UC campuses scramble to make room for thousands more California students – Doubles turned into triples are now the norm at UCLA, which began classes Thursday with 1,000 more registered California students like Sanchez piling onto a campus already packed from years of enrollment growth. And it’s not the only University of California campus scrambling to make room for the largest influx of new students in decades. Overall, nearly 8,000 more California students committed to a UC campus over last year.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy 

Merced home to state’s first business-certified ‘fiber-ready’ – Heritage Management Group in Merced announced Wednesday that it’s the first business in the state to be certified as AT&T fiber-ready. That’s a fancy way of saying it has superfast internet service and the necessary infrastructure at its commercial spaces. Other businesses at Heritage’s The Promenade now have the opportunity for the services, too. Merced Sun-Star article 

Water is key issue for Mendes at State of the County address — Fresno County Board of Supervisors Chairman Buddy Mendes stepped into some political minefields Wednesday morning during the annual State of the County Breakfast. When it came to water, the state Legislature and the upcoming elections, he unhesitatingly moved into partisan territory. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article 

Fresno Public Market project to get $25,000 grant – A big announcement is coming for another downtown Fresno project. Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Fresno developer Mehmet Noyan will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Thursday with Bank of America and other downtown business leaders to announce a $25,000 pre-development grant for the project. Fresno Bee article

Feds keep key rate unchanged but hints of coming change — The Federal Reserve is keeping its key interest rate unchanged but signaling that it will likely raise rates before year’s end. AP article 

Bob Tucknott: How flying supports both charity and Valley business – The Pleasanton electrical contractor writes, “People throughout our state rely on general aviation every day in many different ways – almost too many to describe. Companies use it to stay competitive and reach far-away markets, farmers use aircraft to maintain crops, companies use planes to maintain power lines and repair infrastructure. General aviation in California represents a $30 billion industry and supports more than 139,000 jobs.” Tucknott op-ed in Merced Sun-Star 

Housing Orange County’s homeless vets, three shipping containers apiece — Over the decades, the goal of housing homeless people quickly and cheaply has spawned desperate ideas: tent cities, geodesic domes and micro shacks. All have proved to be neither permanent nor palatable. Now an Orange County nonprofit is hoping that used shipping containers can provide shelter that is quick and economical but also permanent and homelike. LA Times article 

Tulare hospital lays off staff members in wake of bond defeat – Tulare Regional Medical Center reportedly has laid off employees following the stinging rejection by voters last month of a $55 million bond measure meant to finish a stalled hospital tower addition. Fresno Bee article 

California Supreme Court votes to review a libel case over negative Yelp reviews – The California Supreme Court agreed to review Yelp’s objection to a decision ordering it to strip the Internet of comments posted about a San Francisco law firm. LA Times article

Italian restaurant planned for Hotel Stockton – Bearing a plate of pasta and a warm loaf of fresh-baked bread, Rima Barkett is hoping to succeed where many others have failed. The wife of developer Anthony Barkett said this week she plans to open a downtown Italian restaurant by year’s end in the landmark Hotel Stockton space formerly and unsuccessfully occupied by Paragary’s, Sass Bar and Grill, andFrench 25. Stockton Record article

Big Dance is coming to Stockton Arena – Stanford women’s basketball coach Tara VanderVeer delivered the keynote address at the NCAA Kickoff Luncheon for the 2017 Women’s Regional on Wednesday at Stockton Arena. The coaching legend said nothing would make her happier than being inside the same arena six months from now with her team still alive in the Big Dance. Stockton Record article 

HomeTown Buffet in Clovis has closed – The HomeTown Buffet on Shaw Avenue in Clovis closed this week. The restaurant’s parent company, which includes several restaurant chains, filed for bankruptcy in March. It has closed more than 150 locations since the beginning of the year, including a HomeTown Buffet in MercedFresno Bee article 

How does a mall cope when a big tenant like Macy’s closes? – For the Irvine Co., it means revamping the Spectrum to make room for 20 smaller merchants. But not every mall has the resources to do that. LA Times article 

Surprise for Fresno boy’s bakery on Rachel Ray’s ‘Feel Good Friday’ show — An 8-year-old Fresno baker with a big heart and dreams – including buying his mom a house with his bakery money – will appear on the “The Rachael Ray Show” at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 on CBS (Channel 47.1). Jalen will also be receiving a surprise during the “Feel Good Friday” episode. The show highlights uplifting stories every Friday. Fresno Bee article


Felicia Marcus: Bee mischaracterized words, feelings – The chair of the State Water Resources Control Board writes, “Understandably, there are strong reactions and disagreements over how to share the water that nature provides on the San Joaquin. We will continue to listen and to invite better ideas from Californians on all sides of the issue. Having said that, I take issue with your characterization that I implied fishermen were victimized by agriculture ‘hoarding’ water. I neither implied nor said nor feel anything of the sort and object to the characterization.” Marcus letter in Modesto Bee 

Fresno wants to pay two experts to tackle its rusty-water problem — The city of Fresno wants to hire two national experts on corrosion in municipal water systems to reduce the odds of discolored-water problems now plaguing northeast Fresno to repeat themselves when a new water treatment plant opens in 2018.  Fresno Bee article 

Waterwise: Cities take action to raise money for projects — The county’s two largest cities will seek to raise money to finance capital improvement projects. In Visalia, city council agreed earlier this week to sign on to a tentative agreement that calls for a water rate increase over the next years. In Tulare, the Board of Public Utilities approved issuing water revenue bonds for a dual purpose. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Citrus pest quarantine expands with find in Manteca — The quarantine has expanded again for the Asian citrus psyllid, a threat to backyard trees in the Northern San Joaquin Valley and commercial groves to the south. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Shafter police shoot naked man who allegedly tried running them over – A Shafter police officer shot a naked man in a black SUV who ignored commands to stop and accelerated directly toward him, according to police. Bakersfield Californian article 

Video of man shot by Sacramento officers sparks calls for immediate police reforms – The families of two men killed by Sacramento police were joined by black and religious community members Wednesday morning to call for police reforms a day after the release of surveillance video showing Joseph Mann being shot to death. Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee editorial

Protestors take to streets of north Sacramento over police killings – A growing crowd of about 80 people gathered Wednesday night at the corner of Del Paso Boulevard and Arden Way in Old North Sacramento to protest the killing of Joseph Mann by Sacramento police in July and other officer-involved shootings of black men. Sacramento Bee article 

Berkeley: Police Chief Michael Meehan resigns — The summer of shakiness atop Bay Area law enforcement received yet another jolt, by news on Wednesday that Berkeley Police Chief Michael Meehan had resigned. East Bay Times article 


Governor signs bills to boost graduation rates at California schools – Gov. Jerry Brown signed two bills Wednesday intended to help students graduate from California public colleges and universities in four years. LA Times article 

Fresno State and Fresno Pacific rank among best California colleges – Fresno State and Fresno Pacific University (FPU) have been ranked within the top 50 colleges in California on the 2016 College Choice list. Fresno State ranks No. 49 and FPU No. 45 on the list, which evaluates colleges in the state based on each school’s academic reputation, student retention and graduation rate, diversity of programs and student organizations and other factors. The Business Journal article 

Nan Austin: Modesto school leaders get a lesson on the front lines – School district brass and civic leaders walked a mile in more practical shoes last week, standing beside the Modesto City Schools support staff that keep schools humming. Austin in Modesto Bee 

Ricardo Reyna: Pushing out the ‘school pushout’ – The Fresno resident writes, “An entire generation of students, who were born into a system of inequality, are experiencing the ‘school pushout,’ being held back from receiving education and opportunities – never given to the chance to reach their potential. You might wonder, ‘How can an entire generation of young people be held back from receiving their education?’” Reyna op-ed in Fresno Bee


Solar powers cheese plant’s dairy farm near Atwater – The sun does more than grow the feed for the dairy cows supplying Joseph Farms cheese. It provides electricity for pumps, coolers and other equipment at the farm. Modesto Bee article 

Lawsuit: Company failed to warn Shafter area about chemical’s use – An environmental group filed suit this week alleging a major chemical manufacturer is failing to adequately warn residents in and around Shafter that they are being exposed to a fumigant ingredient known to cause cancer.Bakersfield Californian article 

SoCal air quality regulators mulling hike in vehicle registration fees for smog reduction – Air quality regulators are considering seeking an increase in vehicle registration fees for millions of Southern California drivers to help pay for smog reduction programs. LA Times article 

Stately Stockton pine splits, falls in park — A stately Italian stone pine took an unexpected nosedive in one of Stockton’s many tree-studded neighborhood parks last weekend, splitting apart some 6 to 8 feet up its trunk. A police officer on patrol around Constitution Park at North Union and East Fremont streets first spotted the downed evergreen and reported it to the city’s Tree Division, a unit of the Department of Public Works. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services 

San Joaquin General Hospital trauma center director hit with no-trust vote from physicians – Problems with San Joaquin General Hospital’s trauma center run much deeper than a lack of adequate staffing. Twelve physicians who avow their allegiance to serving San Joaquin County residents and the continued designation of San Joaquin General as a trauma center have sent a “vote of no trust” letter to the Board of Supervisors stating they will no longer work in the trauma center effective Oct. 15 under the current director. Stockton Record article

Maternal mortality rate in U.S. rises, defying global trend, study finds – One of the biggest worldwide public health triumphs in recent years has been maternal mortality. Global death rates fell by more than a third from 2000 to 2015. The United States, however, is one of the few countries in the world that have gone against the grain, new data show. Its maternal mortality rate has risen despite improvements in health care and an overwhelming global trend in the other direction. New York Times article 

Zuckerberg pledges $3 billion to fighting disease – The Facebook co-founder and his wife announced an effort to prevent, cure or at least manage all diseases by the end of this century. New York Times article

A final gift: Turlock man’s death saves others — “Even though he’s gone, he gave more people life. He is with Jesus today, I know this,” said Ludmina Piurehpour with a sad smile. Piurehpour and Julie Kaldani reminisced Monday about their co-worker at Magic Cut in Turlock, 40-year-old Edwin Adam, who suffered a ruptured aneurysm Sept. 13 and was taken off life support Sept. 16. Modesto Bee article


San Joaquin County’s first carpool lane opens on I-5 through Stockton – Motorists driving north on Interstate 5 through Stockton will now be able to use new HOV lanes to help relieve congestion — as long as they’re carpooling. Stockton Record article

High-flying numbers for Sacramento International Airport this year — The first eight months of the year were plenty busy at Sacramento International Airport, where a 5 percent bump in air travelers was registered over the previous year. Sacramento Bee article

Public transit champion tapped to lead transportation planning in region — The Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the region’s chief transportation planning agency, has chosen a public transit and smart growth advocate as its new chief executive. James Corless, the founding director of Transportation for America, will join SACOG in April, replacing retiring executive Mike McKeever. Sacramento Bee article 

Aviation companies seek to halt their evictions from Santa Monica Municipal Airport — Two aviation companies at Santa Monica Municipal Airport asked the federal government this week to halt their pending evictions, which are part of the city’s strategy to reduce aircraft operations and eventually close the facility. LA Times article

Other areas

Joe Mathews: Our diversity protects us from calamity – In California, diversity is not just about embracing demographic change. It’s about protection from disaster. Mathews in Sacramento Bee 

Kevin Valine: Modesto’s city flag was hiding in plain sight – In this week’s column, we will revisit the flap over the city flag, preview a proposal to help low-income residents pay their water bills and look at a new survey on the best California cities to raise a family. Valine column in Modesto Bee 

Fults receives Bridwell Humanitarian award — Kendall Fults, a business development manager and former senior vice president for Adventist Health / Central Valley Network, will receive the annual Willard S. Bridwell Humanitarian Award for his 30 years of service to the community and Adventist Health. Hanford Sentinel article

Marcos Breton: When people are mistreated by public agencies, our indifference only aids the powerful — Public indifference can be a powerful ally in fights between local governments or state institutions and the people mistreated by them. Those taking on these entities will find they have few friends and formidable adversaries. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian There is such a thing as “piling on.” You see this often when public outrage collides with politicians yearning to grandstand. This is what is happening with Proposition 63, a November ballot measure that proposes to lock a package of far-reaching gun control laws into the state’s constitution; No doubt, the recreational use of marijuana will someday — likely soon — become legal. But that day should not be today. Simply, California is not prepared to become the epicenter of the nation’s marijuana industry.

Fresno Bee – We encourage Gov. Brown to make added investments that will support our community’s vision – and his vision – of Fresno as a state and world leader in providing economic opportunity, cleaning dirty air and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. 

Modesto Bee – Gov. Brown is right, we must “agree” on rivers.

Sacramento Bee – The world has changed since 1998, and language instruction must keep up so California students can compete in the global economy. Proposition 58 will help; Transparency is the only path forward for Sacramento police.