September 24, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

California drug price initiative leads early in poll, but many still undecided – A California initiative to impose price controls on state drug purchases heads into the fall campaign with support from a majority of likely voters, though more than a third have yet to make up their minds, according to a new poll Friday. Sacramento Bee article

 Watchdog investigates California Democratic Party cash flow — California’s campaign finance watchdog is opening an investigation into the state Democratic Party after a consumer advocacy group alleged the party illegally funnels money from oil companies to Gov. Jerry Brown. AP articleSacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Valley politics

San Joaquin County D.A. denies candidate’s vendetta claim — The District Attorney’s Office says City Council candidate Sam Fant’s allegation of a lengthy race-based “vendetta” against him is a “leap of logic (that) flies not only in the face of reason but also of decency.” Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Foon Rhee: Who are California’s millennial voters? – So despite all the love and attention they’re enjoying, millennials must actually vote to be taken as seriously as they want as a political force. For all the protests and social media posts, that’s the real test of how much they care about their causes.  Rhee column in Sacramento Bee

He’s into meditation: The things we learned about California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom in a new magazine interview – An interview in the October edition of San Francisco magazine offers a few interesting new insights into California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom — both political and personal.  LA Times article

With eye toward 2018, Antonio Villaraigosa starring in TV ads — After confirming he’ll appear on the slate mail card targeting 1.6 million Latino households, perhaps California’s most recognizable Latino official said he’ll star in what organizers describe as a series of “water awareness” ads airing on Spanish-language TV stations. Sacramento Bee article

Andrew Fiala: Death penalty debate weighs heavily on us all – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “Serious and good people have disagreed about this for millennia. There are compelling arguments on each side. Before voting in November, take time to discuss the issue. And acknowledge that decent people will disagree about capital punishment, as we do about other vexing moral questions.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee

Darrell Steinberg takes a stand on pot legalization initiative – Sacramento Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg, a veteran of legislative battles over medical cannabis, said Friday he supports the fall initiative to fully legalize recreational marijuana in California. Steinberg is the largest city leader to line up behind Proposition 64, and his support points to a thawing in local government’s historical opposition to legitimizing the drug. Sacramento Bee article

Unrolling the issues: Prop 64 sparks debate – As voters take to the polls in November, they will decide whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Proposition 64 has the potential to generate millions of dollars for California with the proposed marijuana sales and cultivation tax. However, some believe the positives of the bill don’t outweigh the public safety risks. Visalia Times-Delta article

Michael Caves: Prop 57 is a get out of jail free card for career criminals – The president of the Kern County Prosecutors Association writes, “Consecutive sentences and enhancements are designed to punish the worst of the worst. Proposition 57 will only benefit those who have been sentenced to consecutive sentences or enhancements. I urge The Bakersfield Californian and voters everywhere not to be fooled by this bait-and-switch. Vote no on Proposition 57.” Caves op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Plastic bag banners show support in Bakersfield — Sierra Club members and other backers of Proposition 67 gathered in front of a mammoth inflatable turtle and a pile of grocery bags at Emmanuel Lutheran Church Friday pushing for voters to support a statewide initiative that would ban plastic bags from supermarkets. Bakersfield Californian article

Trailing in polls, Loretta Sanchez risks party alienation as she sharpens attack against fellow Democrat Kamala Harris — Behind in the polls and lagging in fundraising, Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez has shifted into attack mode in her effort to close the gap with the front-runner in California’s U.S. Senate race, state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris. LA Times article


Haitians gathered in Tijuana awaiting entry into U.S. now face likely deportation — Hundreds of Haitians in Tijuana preparing to present themselves to U.S. officials at the San Ysidro Port of Entry face an unpleasant surprise: the probability of detention — and eventual deportation to their impoverished country — under a new policy by the U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityLA Times article

 Other areas

California bans smoking at youth sports events – California has found one more place to ban cigarettes, with Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signing legislation prohibiting smoking at youth sports events. Senate Bill 977, by Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, bans the use of cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes and other tobacco products within 250 feet of a youth sports activity. The law applies to people smoking that close to a game only if they are at the same park or facility where it is taking place. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

California women can soon pick up year’s worth of birth control at once — Women living in the Golden State soon will be able to pick up an entire year’s worth of birth control pills at one time under a bill the governor signed Friday. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

California governor backs protecting whales from crap traps –  California Gov. Jerry Brown announced Friday that he signed legislation meant to bring down the record numbers of whales getting caught in fishing gear meant for Dungeness crabs, causing unknown numbers of the entangled mammals to drown or starve. AP article

Gov. Brown signs bill banning surprise medical bills – Gov. Jerry Brown is approving legislation that seeks to stop surprise medical bills from doctors not covered by a patient’s health plan. AP article

‘Right-to-try’ experimental drug legislation still up in the air – Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday shielding patients from large bills when they are treated by an out-of-network doctor at an in-network hospital and eliminating California’s ban on pharmacies providing more than a three-month supply of birth control pills. But with just less than a week before his Sept. 30 deadline to act on hundreds of bills, another health-related bill remains unsettled. Here’s one significant piece of legislation we’re watching.  Sacramento Bee article

California Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill to encourage reversible lane use – California drivers could start seeing more reversible lanes now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill officially encouraging their use. Reversible lanes can be switched to allow traffic in either direction and are used to accommodate more traffic in one direction during peak hours. Sacramento Bee article

Medical bills, gas leaks, birth control and more new laws – California has more than 50 new laws, after bill signings by Governor Jerry Brown Friday. They include a new ban on smoking and other tobacco use near youth sporting events and stiffer penalties for gas companies that have leaking storage facilities. That’s after a leak in Southern California became the largest in U.S. history. Capital Public Radio report

First photos emerge of Kevin Johnson pie dustup – The first photographs have emerged from Wednesday night’s incident in which Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson was hit with a pie and struck back at his alleged assailant during a charity dinner. Sacramento Bee article

Pie-pushing activist appears in court after scuffle with mayor – The arraignment of a 32-year-old Sacramento man charged with felony assault for shoving a pie into the face of Mayor Kevin Johnson was delayed until Tuesday so attorneys can have a hearing over his $100,000 bail. Sacramento Bee article

Davis Mas Masumoto: Voter shaming: What if the neighbors knew you didn’t vote? – We live in an increasingly transparent world. People are more likely to do the right thing when they know others are watching. So vote on Nov. 8. Or someone will tell on you. Masumoto column in Fresno Bee

Victor Davis Hanson: War clouds are gathering; a hard rain is going to fall — Obama apparently assumes he can leave office as a peacemaker before his appeased chickens come home to roost in violent fashion. He has assured us that the world has never been calmer and quieter. Others said the same thing in the last calm summer weeks of 1914 and 1939. War clouds are gathering. A hard rain is soon going to fall. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

 Presidential Politics

Amanda Renteria brings third baseman’s mentality to Clinton campaign – It’s a long way from Woodlake, where Amanda Renteria’s parents once toiled as migrant workers, to the political beehive in Brooklyn that serves as headquarters for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Their daughter is the Democratic candidate’s highest-ranking Hispanic staffer in an effort that has become – for her – personal as much as it is political. McClatchy Newspapers article

Steve Lopez: Donald Trump asks this columnist for advice, and that’s no lie — Donald Trump has been reaching out to me every day, and I’m not lying. All right, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but so what? Hillary Clinton, I never hear from. Not a peep out of her. But Trump wants my advice on how to handle the big Monday night debate. “Friend,” he emailed the other day, because that’s how close we are, “I’m turning to the very people who have humbled me and gotten me to where I am today…YOU…I want to make you proud, Friend.” Lopez column in LA Times

News Stories – Top Stories

Climate-change funds could yield new housing, parks in Fresno – Fresno will be given $70 million as part of recent climate-change legislation, and the money can be used to create more affordable housing, high-speed rail construction and new parks, Mayor Ashley Swearengin said Friday. Fresno Bee articleKVPR reportThe Business Journal article

New state law helps attract doctors to low-income towns – Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Friday that will make it easier to attract doctors who are willing to work in impoverished communities in the central San Joaquin Valley. Assembly Bill 2048 streamlines the process for doctors who work at federally qualified health centers to be eligible for a federal loan repayment program. Fresno Bee article

Stockton airport seeks hotel bids – Stockton Metropolitan Airport officials are hoping to find a developer with experience in designing and building large hotels in the coming weeks. Airport officials have issued a request for qualifications to developers interested in building a hotel with as many as 200 rooms on a piece of land adjacent to the Robert J. Cabral Agricultural Center. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno lands $3 million fed investment for infrastructure – Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) announced Friday that the City of Fresno will receive $3.04 million to improve infrastructure and boost economic development. The investment award from the Economic Development Administration is anticipated to create 327 jobs and spur $35 million in private investment. The Business Journal article

Fresno bank teams up with Bay Area company to help fund businesses – A small Fresno bank is teaming up with a Bay Area investment service company to help young businesses get the money they need to grow. Fresno First Bank and Breakaway Funding this week introduced a hybrid crowdfunding process for business lending. It takes the new world of crowdfunding – raising money through contributions from the public and investors – to raise equity and combines it with a little bit of coaching to get a business ready to approach a bank for a loan. Fresno Bee article

Returning to homeless camps – Just a few hours had passed since the dump trucks and law enforcement vehicles had left the most recent encampment cleanup, when homeless individuals were already back to their illegal camps Thursday. Stockton Record article

Homeless Connect offers basic needs, big opportunities – Merced’s Homeless Connect event on Friday helped those in need put together some of the small pieces that are part of the larger puzzle in front of them. The event offered technical and cosmetic services that others often take for granted, such as getting a birth certificate, a haircut or a leash for a dog. Merced Sun-Star article

A scene of homeless misery greets patrons trying to use Santa Ana’s award-winning library – The growing debate over homelessness in Orange County has found a crucible in a library that this year was named one of five winners of the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the nation’s highest honor given to libraries and museums for community service. LA Times article

Immigrants a largely hidden segment of LA’s homeless population – Los Angeles County’s growing homeless population includes one group that’s not so visible: immigrants who came to the United States to earn a better living but couldn’t, and are ending up without shelter. KQED report

Sacramento County official says half-billion dollars will go uncollected – Sacramento County officials said this month that more than a half-billion dollars owed to the county will go uncollected because the county is legally barred from recovering it. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento economy grows at fastest pace in a decade – The Sacramento region’s economy grew 3.5 percent last year, the fastest increase since 2005, after adjusting for inflation, according to new figures from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Sacramento Bee article

Shell Oil to pay California $20 million over false claims — Shell Oil Co. and an affiliate have agreed to pay $20 million to California officials over false claims the companies submitted to a state-run underground storage tank cleanup fund, California officials said Friday. Sacramento Bee article

Oakland Raiders: Group withdraws offer to buy Coliseum land – A group of investors proposing to purchase the Coliseum land from the city and county have withdrawn their offer, their attorney said in a letter to Mayor Libby Schaaf. East Bay Times article

Yahoo hit with class-action lawsuits over massive data breach — Mere hours after news that hundreds of millions of Yahoo user accounts had been hacked, users filed a class-action suit accusing the Sunnyvale tech firm of putting their finances at risk and failing to notify them earlier about the breach. San Jose Mercury News article


Agriculture boosts Tulare County economy, but farmers express doubts— A strong agricultural economy is giving Tulare County bragging rights about its contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product, and exports of citrus, grapes and nuts seem to be a major factor. But farmers looking at their bottom lines wonder how it could be so. Fresno Bee article

Raisin growers and packers stalled on price for crop — Across the central San Joaquin Valley, the annual raisin harvest is nearly complete. Skilled workers have picked and placed thousands of tons of green grapes on sheets of paper, waiting to be dried by the sun. When ready, the wrinkly raisins will be hauled to processing plants where they will be cleaned, sorted and packaged for sale to food makers and foreign buyers. It’s a ritual that plays out every year, but one that has become increasingly complicated by squabbles over price, declining acreage and disagreements over how best to sell the crop. Fresno Bee article

Agriculture education efforts can get money from license plate sales — The state expects to have about $257,000 this year from the sale of farm-themed license plates to put toward agricultural education. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Officer-involved crash sends three to hospital – A Bakersfield Police Department officer and two others were taken to the hospital with moderate injuries Friday when the cop collided with another vehicle in a southwest Bakersfield intersection, spurring a four-car crash, officials said. Bakersfield Californian article

Can racist tweets help predict hate crimes? LA is about to find out – Can police prevent hate crimes by monitoring racist banter on social media? Researchers will be testing this concept over the next three years in Los Angeles, marking a new frontier in efforts by law enforcement to predict and prevent crimes. LA Times article

Two former Marines sworn in as officers – Two young veterans were sworn in as Merced police officers on Friday. Both new officers, Arturo Dehoyos and Omar Hernandez, served in the Marines. Hernandez also served in the Army and was discharged in April, and Dehoyos served three tours in Iraq. The addition of the two officers brings the Police Department’s ranks up to 87, city officials said. The department currently has seven openings and still is about 20 officers short of the department’s peak before the recession hit, Chief Norm Andrade said. Merced Sun-Star article

Anti-violence video goes viral – Six months ago when Bakersfield community activist Danny Morrison began sharing the seed of an idea to create a locally produced Stop-the-Violence music video, he had no clue that just days after its release, “Self Destruction 2.0” would be on a viral trajectory to 50,000 views. Bakersfield Californian article

Joyce Terhaar: Police refused to release video of the shooting of Joseph Mann. So The Bee did. – Right up until The Bee published surveillance video it obtained of the fatal police shooting of Joseph Mann, police officials were refusing to share the video and 911 tapes with Mann’s family or the public. Terhaar column in Sacramento Bee

Richmond disciplines officers involved in sex scandal — A northern California city announced Friday that it is seeking to fire one of its police officers and discipline eight others implicated in a wide-ranging sexual abuse scandal involving the teen daughter of a dispatcher. Richmond police Chief Allwyn Brown is pushing to demote one officer and suspend two others without pay. Brown wants to send letters of reprimand to five other officers. AP articleKQED report

Beating victim delivers anti-bullying message – Bryan Stow should be dead. He was in a coma for nine long months after he received a severe brain injury in a brutal attack by two men on March 31, 2011. Stockton Record article

Bettencourt sentenced to 8 years, 4 months for child sex crimes — “I was 16 the first time Gary Bettencourt molested me,” a victim of the former Los Banos High Schoolteacher said during an impact statement delivered at a sentencing hearing Friday. Merced Sun-Star article


ACLU: Fresno Unified illegally spent money meant for high-need students – The American Civil Liberties Union is alleging that Fresno Unified misspent state money intended for high-need students and refused to comply with the law. In a complaint filed earlier this week, the ACLU claims the school district did not follow laws pertaining to the Local Control and Accountability Plan as required by the state’s funding formula for schools. Under the formula, districts get more funding depending on the number of low-income students, English learners and foster children enrolled. Fresno Bee article

Ivy League Project sends Hispanics students to college — Former Parlier school district administrator Martin Mares knows the exact kind of students he likes to teach. “Some people like to coach little league baseball. Others like to coach high school football,” he said. “I like to coach world leaders.” Mares, who’s the founder and president of the Ivy League Project, made his comments during the Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration held Friday at the Southern California Edison AgTAC in Tulare. Visalia Times-Delta article

‘Schools Not Prisons’ tour aims to curb school discipline, incarceration – A campaign that has visited cities across California “impacted by the overuse of punishment and incarceration” is headed to Fresno. The Schools Not Prisons tour is a free music and art event that encourages young people to call on leaders to spend less money on prisons and more on restorative justice programs in schools. Fresno Bee article

Lemoore expanding student entrepreneur program — Following a successful first year, the Lemoore Chamber of Commerce is looking to expand its Young Entrepreneur Academy (YEA) to include more middle and high school students as its application deadline approaches. Hanford Sentinel article

 Health/Human Services

Heart disease, the leading killer in Merced County, seen as preventable – The leading cause of death in Merced County is one that health officials and medical physicians say could be greatly reduced through seeking preventive care, consistent daily exercise and healthy eating. Merced Sun-Star article

John G. Taylor: In search of quality health care” We’re spinning the ‘Wheel of Fortune’ – The former Fresno Bee editor and reporter and current owner/operator of the JT Communications Company writes, “What’s a good hospital? The one good enough in a life-or-death event – the nearest emergency department for a heart attack – may not be best when you have time to plan for a heart bypass, knee replacement or hysterectomy. Truth is, the wellspring of informed intelligence for patients on medical decision-making is murky and likely will take years to clarify.” Taylor op-ed in Fresno Bee

Nursing home magnate rocks Humboldt County with plans to close three of the area’s six facilities — In remote Humboldt County, where local controversies tend toward medical marijuana dust-ups and billboard blight, a furor has erupted around the fate of three nursing homes – and whether the state will intervene. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Clovis Planning Commission gives OK to mental health hospital — The Clovis Planning Commission unanimously approved a permit to build a 102-bed behavioral health hospital near Highway 168 and Clovis Avenue after hearing revisions and opposition from the public Thursday night. Fresno Bee article


Tesla upgrades Autopilot in cars on the road — Tesla Motors, always ahead of the automotive curve, is conducting a remarkable technological feat. Starting this week and continuing in the coming days, the company is using the cellular network to beam new software to update the Autopilot driver-assistance system on approximately 70,000 of its cars. Tesla’s ability to communicate with its vehicles to download major enhancements and fixes, much as Apple updates iPhones, is beyond the capability of other automakers. New York Times article

 Other areas

Kern supervisors narrow hunt for CAO replacement — The field of candidates for the most powerful administrator in Kern County government — the county administrative officer — has been whittled down to a handful of people. And on Thursday, the five members of the Kern County Board of Supervisors will interview them during a special closed door meeting. Bakersfield Californian article

San Francisco fire chief announces potential plan to stop gender harassment — The chief of the San Francisco Fire Department announced Friday she’s considering a plan requiring all firefighters to sign a code of conduct policy every year and attend harassment training. Only firefighters in supervisory roles are currently required to do this. KQED report

Valley Editorial Roundup 

Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down.