September 24, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Number of ‘no party preference’ voters climbs again – The ranks of voters without political party affiliations continued to grow in California, according to data released Tuesday by Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Information collected 60 days before the Nov. 4 election showed 23.1% of the state’s more than 17.6 million registered voters declined to align themselves with a party, up from 21.2% shortly before the June 3 primary. Republican Party registration continued to decline slightly, down to 28.23% from last spring’s 28.4%. Democratic Party registration, which also has been dropping but less dramatically than for Republicans, held roughly steady at 43.43%. LA Times article;Sacramento Bee article

Poll: Obamacare support sliding, Jerry Brown, water-bond up big – new survey released late Tuesday found some 42 percent of state residents generally view the Affordable Care Act favorably, while 46 percent harbor unfavorable opinions. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown leads Republican Neel Kashkari by 21 percentage points in the race for governor.  Sacramento Bee articleKQED reportU-T San Diego article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown defends cap-and-trade, calls for further climate change action at U.N. –  Gov. Jerry Brown, appealing to world leaders for joint action on climate change, issued a forceful defense Tuesday of plans to expand California’s cap-and-trade program to vehicle fuels next year.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown’s legacy riding on election – If voters reject Gov. Jerry Brown’s rainy-day fund measure in November, he will have failed on one of his fundamental campaign promises, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Role reversal: Sen. Mark Leno scolds Jerry Brown on spending – In budget-related matters at the Capitol, Gov. Jerry Brown is so often the scold that legislative Democrats may relish a momentary role reversal. In a letter last week, state Sen. Mark Leno, chairman of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, chastised the administration for a request by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to transfer $261 million among various programs to cover overtime, workers’ compensation and other costs that went over budget last fiscal year.  Capitol Alert

Valley politics

Fresno Bee: Swearengin follows independent path – Ashley Swearengin’s and Pete Peterson’s strategy might not prove to be a winning one. But it should be another wake-up call to the leaders of California’s shrinking Republican Party that it needs to attract and support candidates who more closely reflect the values and aspirations of a majority of the state’s residents.  Fresno Bee editorial

AD32: Rios camp disputes ‘Pedro No Show Rios’ ad – At least one claim in an attack ad against Pedro Rios — the Republican candidate for 32nd District assemblyman — undisputably holds up: he did not vote in elections from 2007-2011. But Rios’ camp called another claim in the ad — that he took advantage of a veterans program — unfair and “a slap in the face to all veterans.”  Bakersfield Californian article

Parra faces uphill battle against Mendes in Fresno County supervisor race – As District Four votes for Fresno County supervisor rolled in during June’s primary, it wasn’t clear whether Buddy Mendes and Daniel Parra would face off in November. The two candidates are campaigning again, but the challenge for Parra appears daunting. Mendes had a large fundraising advantage in June and since the beginning of August has raised nearly three times as much as Parra.  Fresno Bee article

Merced council approves money for Measure T ‘educational materials’ – The Merced City Council will fund “educational materials” related to Measure T, a ballot measure that would break up the city into districts for local elections.  Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

John Myers: Six weeks out, Jerry Brown holds commanding lead – Tuesday night’s Public Policy Institute of California poll finds Brown with a 21-point lead over Kashkari, 54 percent to 33 percent. That’s a similar, though slightly larger, gap between the two candidates than what the PPIC found in July.  Myers in KQED

Kashkari’s polls stagnant; he’ll pay supporters at rally? – In an email to supporters sent out Tuesday, the former Treasury official offers to pay supporters gas cards to show up at a Burbank event on Wednesday. He promises to raise the issue of gas taxes and their connection to high speed rail — a project supported by Brown which Kashkari has dismissed as the “Crazy Train.”  San Francisco Chronicle article

Secretary of state candidates Padilla and Peterson disagree on Brown – Republican Pete Peterson and Democrat Alex Padilla agree on plenty of issues in their contest to take over the California secretary of state’s office. But they don’t see eye to eye on the performance of Debra Bowen, the current Democratic occupant of the office whose tenure has been criticized by some as lackluster. Bowen recently disclosed that she is battling depression.  Capitol Alert

Stacey Wallach: Prop 45 is deceiving and damaging – The Sacramento-area obstetrician/gynecologist writes, “It gives one politician – the state’s insurance commissioner – sweeping new power over health care, including what benefits and treatment options are covered. I believe that these treatment decisions are best left to doctors and patients, not someone with a political agenda.” Wallach op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Jamie Court: Prop 45 will be good for California consumers – The president of Consumer Watchdog writes, “We all must buy health insurance, but California is one of the few states that does not guarantee that it be affordable. Proposition 45 creates that guarantee for individuals and small businesses who must buy their own health insurance and often suffer the most.” Court op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Carly Fiorina won’t rule out run for White House – Carly Fiorina is ruling out a return to California to run again for the U.S. Senate, but she’s not ruling out a future White House bid — and it’s clear she hasn’t given up campaigning for issues she cares about.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Google pulls out of conservative group amid environmentalist pressure – Google’s effort to build strong alliances with Republican politicians and conservative advocacy groups is paying dividends on Capitol Hill but has created a growing marketing and public-relations headache for the company.  LA Times article

Facebook to cut ties with conservative policy group – Facebook will possibly end its relationship with a controversial conservative policy organization over its stance on climate change, The Chronicle learned Tuesday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Dino Hildago resigns from California Senate after nepotism complaints – Dina Hidalgo, the longtime head of human resources for the California Senate, is retiring amid allegations of nepotism and favoritism, an issue that came to light this spring when The Sacramento Bee revealed that her son, a Senate peace officer at the time, was high on marijuana and cocaine the night he was involved in a fatal off-duty shooting.  Capitol Alert

ACLU sues Arizona over ‘revenge porn’ bill – A new Arizona law making “revenge porn” illegal is so broad it criminalizes booksellers, artists, news photographers and even historians and is therefore unconstitutional, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona said in a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.  AP articleLA Times article

Point/Counterpoint: Obama in abyss he made – Tom Fife and Joe Altschule debate about President Obama on the pages of the Visalia Times-Delta.  Point/Counterpoint in Visalia Times-Delta

News Briefs

Top Stories

Plans for $200 million in drought relief released – State water officials on Tuesday released plans for spending almost a third of the $687 million emergency drought relief package approved by lawmakers earlier this year.  AP article

State of the City: Visalia seeing growth – Business and real estate activity is rising in Visalia this fiscal year and is expected continue rising in the next one, Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen told a crowd Tuesday night at the Visalia Convention Center.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Jobs and the Economy

$350,000 in spending options for Stockton City Council – Given Stockton’s well-chronicled bankruptcy, it was indeed a rare occasion Tuesday night for the City Council to find itself with $350,000 to spend as it pleased. Council members were provided a list of 20 potential pet projects large and small, ranging from spending one-quarter of a Neil Diamond concert ($250,000) on the infrastructure at Victory Park pool to earmarking $2,500 for a poet laureate.  Stockton Record article

City tallies economic impact of Modesto Grand Prix – Officials say last month’s Modesto Grand Prix – which drew thousands of spectators downtown to watch roughly 260 superkarts zip along city streets – contributed $1.26 million in direct spending to the local economy, according to a preliminary analysis.  Modesto Bee article

Study: Fresno has among highest rates of workers with limited English – Fresno has one of the nation’s highest proportions of people with limited English-language skills among its working-age population — and a greater share are poor than in many other major metropolitan areas across the United States.  Fresno Bee article

Hanford sees new interest from residential developers – Following years of stunted growth, Hanford appears to be getting some renewed interest from residential developers. The planning commission is considering approval of phases of a project that includes about 1,500 homes. Meanwhile, the building department is seeing an upsurge in permit requests for new homes.  Hanford Sentinel article

Distressed sales down in Fresno, Kings counties – Distressed home sales dipped a little in Fresno and Kings counties in August while Tulare and Madera counties both saw increases in the month.  The Business Journal article

Ten years later, will Fresno County voters keep zoo tax? – After struggling to keep its accreditation back in 2004, the Fresno Chaffee Zoo got a boost from voters with a special sales tax. Now a decade later the zoo is again asking voters for their help on the November ballot. But as FM89’s Diana Aguilera reports, some say Fresno’s zoo is already being saved.  KVPR report

Valley baseball: Fresno Grizzlies, Bakersfield Blaze lose affiliation, plan for future – It’s been a busy month for baseball in Central California. Last week both the Fresno Grizzlies and the Bakersfield Blaze lost their affiliation with the Major League Baseball teams that provide them players.  KVPR report

Blaze owner makes first pitch for Salinas stadium – Bakersfield Blaze owner D.G. Elmore, along with other supporters, made his first presentation to the Salinas City Council for a stadium development he proposes as a new home for the Blaze in 2016. The Blaze will remain at Sam Lynn Ballpark for at least the 2015 season.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton Record: Difficult closure – The impending closure of the General Mills plant in Lodi announced last week is a shot to the community and the area. With 430 employees and many other jobs — almost 1,000, according to University of the Pacific estimates — dependent on the plant, this is a serious economic jolt.  Stockton Record editorial

New San Jose firefighters to see pensions cut after long union battle with city – In the latest battle with its employee unions, the city of San Jose has won a long struggle with its firefighters over reducing pension benefits for new hires — several years after voters approved the changes.  San Jose Mercury News article

LA business groups threaten suit if city hikes hotel workers’ wage – Los Angeles business groups Tuesday ramped up threats to sue the city if it adopted a minimum wage requirement for big hotels.  LA Times article

Oakland council gives garbage contract back to ‘bully’ company – The Oakland City Council took the unusual step early Tuesday of returning the city’s $1 billion garbage contract to the nation’s largest trash hauler, a firm the city had booted from the job last month after accusing company officials of being bullies.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Catering trend brings hot meals home – Several new meal service trends have come to the Fresno area this summer, ensuring customers can enjoy decadent meals served up right at home.  The Business Journal article

Fox Theater may reopen in early 2015 – Six months after the Hanford Fox Theatre closed for repairs, it’s still unclear exactly when the local landmark will be able to resume entertaining local masses.  Hanford Sentinel article

Broken Arrow’s squeaky door to close for good – Whether it was its trademark squeaky door, its ubiquitous jingle performed by the Sons of the San Joaquin or the frequently-stolen-but-always-returned life-size horse, the Broken Arrow has been a consistent subject of local conversation for decades.  Visalia Times-Delta article

San Francisco officials on collision course with developers over tax – The San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Mayor Ed Lee appear to be headed toward a showdown with big developers over creation of a special tax district set up to fund construction of new downtown transit infrastructure.  KQED reportSan Francisco Chronicle article

Tech firms flocking to conference in effort to hire more women – With all of the prevailing pressure on Silicon Valley to diversify its ranks, tech companies find themselves with a newly strengthened charge to boost their hiring of women. But those companies face a quandary: Where to find them?  San Francisco Chronicle article

Berkeley soda tax supporters denounce industry funding of opposition – More than the health of the city’s children is at stake in the campaign over a proposed city tax on sodas and other sweetened drinks, say the sponsors of Yes on (Measure) D — Berkeley vs. Big Soda.  Oakland Tribune article

State investigating LA Fire Department hiring after white applicant alleges bias – State officials are investigating recent changes made to the Los Angeles Fire Department’s hiring process after a complaint from a white male applicant who says he was unfairly passed over.  LA Times article


In East Porterville, ‘they were drinking water that looked yellow and red’ – Severe drought conditions have become so harsh in Central California that dry wells have become commonplace. The lack of running water has plagued East Porterville, an unincorporated Tulare County community, leaving scores of family homes without working wells. In this report FM89 Reporter Ezra David Romero visits the community and finds a dry river, dry wells and people whose basic necessities are threatened.  KVPR report

Earth Log: Fresno’s July, August water use dips – Fresno’s water conservation news from the summer also is interesting — compared to last year, water use dropping by 8% in July and 16% in August.  Fresno Bee article

East Hanford water company goes dry – The Hamblin Mutual Water Co. subdivision in east Hanford notified city and county officials Tuesday that its well had gone dry, the Kings County Department of Public Health said.  Hanford Sentinel article

Avenal gets extra water – Avenal will be receiving additional water to prevent the city from the unprecedented possibility of running out in December, a Bureau of Reclamation official said in an interview Tuesday.  Hanford Sentinel article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Investigation is underway in Madera County jail escape – Two Madera County supervisors sharply criticized the county’s corrections department Tuesday morning following last weekend’s escape of five inmates from the jail.  Fresno Bee article

Local meth problem getting worse, report says – Kern County isn’t winning its fight against methamphetamine. A new report, crafted six years after a Kern County study outlined the massive impact the drug has on families and communities here, shows things have gotten worse.  Bakersfield Californian article

Dan Walters: It’s pot harvest time, so the annual war resumes – This is harvest time on California’s scenic, sparsely populated North Coast – and that means the half-century-long war between marijuana growers and cops has resumed.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Man shot by Fresno police had history of drug use, mental illness – A man shot to death by Fresno police Monday night had a history of mental illness, methamphetamine use and domestic violence that included bizarre threats against his wife, Chief Jerry Dyer said Tuesday.  Fresno Bee article


State high school exit exam results released – The Department of Education report shows the percentage of Tulare County tenth graders to pass the exit exam during the 2013-14 school year is slightly lesser than the state average.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Kings districts get mixed exit exam results – Kings County high school districts saw mixed results for last year’s California High School Exit Exam, according to new data from the state Department of Education.  Hanford Sentinel article

Lack of students, funding may force Tehachapi charter school to close – Because of low enrollment, Abernathy Collegiate Charter School is in jeopardy of closing as it begins its second year of operation, even after being awarded accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges only a few months ago.  Bakersfield Californian article

Man arrested for brandishing pellet gun at Riverbank students, authorities say – An elementary school was locked down Tuesday after a man brandished what turned out to be a pellet gun and threatened to shoot schoolchildren, a Stanislaus County sheriff’s spokesman said.  Modesto Bee article

More kids in preschool with restoration of Head Start funding – More kids are in preschool through the federally funded Head Start program this year with the restoration cuts leftover from bygone budget battles in Washington.  Stockton Record article

Jim Qualls: Lisa Project will raise awareness – The president of the Visalia Unified School District board of trustees writes, “As part of our work to support child abuse prevention locally, I am proud to announce that Visalia Unified School District, in partnership with the Tulare County Child Abuse Prevention Council, is bringing the Lisa Project to Visalia from Sept. 22 to Oct. 4.”  Qualls op-ed in Visalia Times-Delta

UC Merced Connect:  Pine needle bacteria research earns professor $1.6 million grant – Professor Carolin Frank will collect $1.6 million over the next four years to continue researching the nitrogen-fixing bacteria that live in pine needles and work with the Sierra Foothill Charter School, which she helped found.  UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star

Community college district to save $2.5 million on bond – The Merced Community College District will save more than $2.5 million in tax dollars from the refinancing of a 12-year-old bond, Merced College announced.  Merced Sun-Star article


Sacramento air quality officials sued over crude oil trains – A Bay Area environmental group has filed a lawsuit against the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District for failing to require an environmental review of a crude oil transfer station at McClellan Business Park.  Sacramento Bee article

Plan seeks to encourage alternative energy while protecting environment – With a backdrop of slowly turning wind turbines, the U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Tuesday unveiled a plan to manage conservation and renewable energy production on more than 22 million acres in California as part of a federal and state effort to promote clean energy projects.  LA Times articleAP article

King fire containment grows to 37 percent, but wind poses threat – Crews made good progress on the King fire overnight even though the blaze continued to spread. The fire, which started near Pollock Pines and spread with great ferocity last week, grew 2,000 acres overnight from 87,592 acres to 89,574 acres. However, along with the spread of the fire, containment has also increased.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Lois Henry: Oops, wrong beetle! May we get a refund? – You say you never heard of the VELB and couldn’t care less? Well, consider this. This little bugger has cost Bakersfield taxpayers at least $350,000. That’s what the city spent back in 2010 to transplant an elderberry shrub in the pathway of the Westside freeway to a shrub ranch in Northern California and buy “credits” from a conservation bank. Fast forward to this September and it turns out the VELB doesn’t call Kern County home at all.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Health/Human Services

Merced event will bridge the gap between homeless and services – Providing vital services in a one-stop opportunity to people who are homeless in Merced County is what this week’s Homeless Connect is all about, according to organizers.  Merced Sun-Star article

Land Use/Housing

Development near Woodlake going forward – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday not to end plans for a large subdivision north of Woodlake, despite efforts by residents in the area to stop it. But the development on a ridge of Colvin Mountain will not be the same as the one owners of the 225 acres had envisioned when they challenged the Tulare County Planning Commission’s recommendation that the supervisors deny a tract map.  Visalia Times-Delta article


More social buses in Visalia – The city of Visalia launched an experiment in August 2013 by connecting a Wi-Fi modem in a city bus so riders could access the Internet using their laptops, tablets and smartphones.  Visalia Times-Delta article‘Other communities looking at Wi-Fi on buses’ in Visalia Times-Delta

Other Areas

Fresno fire department gets two-company station – The “two-company house” is returning to Fresno, a blessing to anyone who cares about fire safety. For the first time in more than five years, one of the city’s fire stations has two firefighting vehicles — an engine and a ladder truck — on site 24/7.  Fresno Bee article

Chowchilla and city administrator part ways – The Chowchilla City Council reached an agreement with City Administrator Mark Lewis during its closed session meeting Tuesday that will begin with his immediate resignation. He will part with a 9-month severance package, which equals $122,525.  Merced Sun-Star article

Family of pedestrian killed at deadly intersection sues Atwater – Atwater is being sued by the family of a woman who was killed crossing an intersection in 2010, according to a complaint filed in Merced Superior Court.  Merced Sun-Star article

Riverbank council adopts temporary moratorium on tattoo shops – Tattoo artists and patrons, bristling at a City Hall report aligning them with gangs and infectious disease, got nothing but love Tuesday from City Council members eager to welcome businesses to town rather than drive them away.  Modesto Bee article

New program to track Yosemite bears in real time – For the first time, wildlife managers in Yosemite National Park will map and monitor the movement of the park’s black bears in real time to help understand the animals’ activities beyond Yosemite Valley. Yosemite Conservancy donors are contributing nearly $70,000 to purchase GPS collars to track the bears.  Merced Sun-Star article

Bakersfield Californian: Take down intruder bears with darts, not lethal means –  No one should be simply shooting these bears with conventional firearms and ammunition, except in the most dire and dangerous of situations. All police officers and Sheriff’s deputies with the slightest chance of being called to a bear sighting should have tranquilizer guns readily available, or, failing that, some form of less-lethal weaponry.  Bakersfield Californian editorialBakersfield Californian article

Officials believe mountain lion has moved on from Turlock – There have been no confirmed sightings of a mountain lion spotted on the east side of town since Sunday night, and the Police Department on Tuesday afternoon issued a news release that the cat “is believed to have moved on.”  Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian – Take down intruder bears with darts, not lethal means.

Fresno Bee – Ashley Swearengin’s and Pete Peterson’s strategy might not prove to be a winning one. But it should be another wake-up call to the leaders of California’s shrinking Republican Party that it needs to attract and support candidates who more closely reflect the values and aspirations of a majority of the state’s residents.

Merced Sun-Star – Gavin Newsom is the best choice for lieutenant governor.

Modesto Bee – Gavin Newsom is the best choice for lieutenant governor.

Sacramento Bee – Red-light cameras contract reveal programs are more about making money than making roads safe; Airstrikes in Syria could be the start of a long campaign.

Stockton Record – The impending closure of the General Mills plant in Lodi announced last week is a shot to the community and the area. With 430 employees and many other jobs — almost 1,000, according to University of the Pacific estimates — dependent on the plant, this is a serious economic jolt.