September 25, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

CD21: Biden to stump for Renteria in Bakersfield – Vice President Joe Biden will visit Bakersfield on Oct. 7 to support the congressional campaign of Democrat Amanda Renteria.  Bakersfield Californian articleFresno Bee articleRoll Call article

Court: Governor not a ‘public agency’ when it comes to CEQA – The governor is not a “public agency” subject to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. As of Wednesday, that is the law unless and until the state’s Supreme Court sees it differently.  The question came up in connection with Gov. Jerry Brown’s concurrence with a federal decision – required by law for the project to move forward – that a new American Indian gaming establishment in Madera County would not be detrimental to the surrounding community. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Gov. Brown

Dan Walters Daily:  Jerry Brown inconsistent on helping the poor – Gov. Jerry Brown has never been known for his consistency, Dan says, as recent statements on helping the poor demonstrate.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Fresno County supervisor candidates spar over pot, indigent care, employees – The candidates in District One, Blong Xiong and Brian Pacheco, along with District Four candidates Buddy Mendes and Daniel Parra, shared common ground on the county’s justice system, employee relations and specialty medical care for undocumented immigrants.  Fresno Bee article

Modesto Bee: Turlock voters should approve Measure A – Merced and Turlock are asking voters to confirm the switch to district elections; deciding district boundaries and election rules will come later. We urge passage of both measures.  Modesto Bee editorial

Merced Sun-Star:  Merced voters must support Measure T – Voters should approve Measure T then help create a plan that best suits the city. Allowing a broader range of people to participate in our democracy keeps it strong.  Merced Sun-Star editorial

Stockton Record: Endorsement-Gate? – Let’s hope that Endorsement-Gate doesn’t become an issue in the upcoming Stockton City Council election.  Stockton Record editorial

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari hands out free gas cards – Wearing safety goggles and wielding a white mallet aimed at a wind-up toy train, GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari on Wednesday made his latest attempt to move the needle in a contest stacked highly in favor of his Democratic rival, Gov. Jerry Brown.  LA Times article

Joel Fox: Kashkari’s challenges – From Kashkari’s perspective, he thinks national Republican leaders are more closely following his efforts than California Republican leaders. He believes the national leaders hope that his approach will move California voters to consider Republican candidates. The mission he laid out is to re-introduce people to the Republican Party by emphasizing economic well-being and education.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Marijuana legalization advocates to start raising money for 2016 initiative in California – The Marijuana Policy Project, which backed efforts to legalize marijuana use in Colorado, said Wednesday it will start raising money for a 2016 ballot initiative in California. Capitol Alert

Candidates for insurance commissioner: A clash of styles – The race for California’s insurance commissioner features candidates with very different views of how the office should operate.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

California voters overwhelmingly support affirmative action – Though a racially-charged political scuffle stalled legislative efforts this spring to repeal a ban on the consideration of race in college admissions, Californian voters overwhelmingly support the use of affirmative action, according to a new Field Poll.  Sacramento Bee article

Report: Dianne Feinstein’s assault-gun ban didn’t work – The nonprofit news organization Pro Publica has a story out Wednesday saying one of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s first achievements upon taking office more than two decades ago didn’t work. That’s her assault weapons ban, which passed the Senate by one vote in 1994 during the Clinton administration.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Tom McClintock likes GOP’s White House chances in 2016 – Rep. Tom McClintock is focused on his re-election bid against a fellow Republican this fall but also is keeping an eye on his party’s would-be candidates for the White House in 2016. He likes what he sees. Capitol Alert

Jim Reeves: Porterville City Council still snubbing LGBTQ community – Activists in Porterville are reporting that a request for a proclamation recognizing National Coming Out Day, October 11, has died for lack of support from any of the council members.  Reeves in Visalia Times-Delta

News Briefs

Top Stories

Number of Latinos with insurance coverage surges under healthcare law – The federal healthcare law has dramatically increased coverage among Latinos, according to a new report that provides a comprehensive look at the effects of the Affordable Care Act on a historically underinsured community.  LA Times article

Fresno County ‘poised for prosperity,’ Supervisor Andreas Borgeas says – Fresno County continues to rebound from the depths of recession and “is poised for greater prosperity,” county Board of Supervisors Chairman Andreas Borgeas told business leaders in the annual State of the County address Wednesday morning.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Jobs and the Economy

English language is a struggle for many Stanislaus adults – Stanislaus County has made another of those dreaded Top 10 lists showing how poorly it stacks up against other parts of America. This time, the topic concerns how proficient our working-age residents are in English. It turns out Stanislaus’ adults are twice as likely to be unable to communicate in English as those living elsewhere in the United States.  Modesto Bee article

LA City Council votes for minimum-wage hike to $15.37 at big hotels – Big hotels in Los Angeles will soon be required to pay at least $15.37 an hour to their workers – one of the highest minimum wage requirements in the country. The City Council voted 12 to 3 on Wednesday to impose the wage requirements on large hotels, handing a major victory to organized labor and a defeat to business groups. LA Times article

Darrell Feil: Rising gas prices come at wrong time for small business – The Bakersfield resident and owner of Abate-a-Weed writes, “Imagine how distressing it is as a small business owner to learn that fuel prices are going to fluctuate wildly come January — anywhere from 16 to 70 cents extra per gallon. As an entrepreneur, I want to grow my business and create more good paying jobs. But this gas tax is just another burden that businesses like mine get hit with and fights against principles of economics. It outright discourages and prevents me from creating jobs.” Feil op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Finance director joins Chowchilla, talks audit – A new employee hit the ground running as he presented an audit to the City Council on Tuesday. City Clerk Nanci Lima administered the oath of office to Rod Pruett, who took over as finance director Monday. He will make $9,582 a month, a yearly salary of $114,984, according to the City Clerk’s Office.  Merced Sun-Star article

San Francisco school playground could rise to new heights – Real estate in San Francisco’s Mission District is so hot that a developer is offering to raise a school playground 15 feet above ground level so the 10-story condo complex the firm is building won’t cast a shadow on the kids during recess.  San Francisco Chronicle article

More tenant departures possible as rest of Downtown Plaza faces remodel – Some of the remaining tenants at Downtown Plaza could be leaving soon as the mall’s developer considers remodeling the site to coincide with construction of the new Sacramento Kings arena.  Sacramento Bee article

Bakersfield City Council quietly selects new GET board members – The Bakersfield City Council selected two new Golden Empire Transit board members Wednesday night with little discussion or fanfare — unlike past council discussions of the troubled transit agency.  Bakersfield Californian article

How Transbay Transit Center deal’s collapse would alter San Francisco – San Francisco could be left with a very expensive bus station or a new skyline minus a few towers depending on how threatened lawsuits over the city’s plan to fund a new downtown transit hub billed as the “Grand Central station of the West” play out.  San Francisco Chronicle article

9 successful startups that were born at Stanford – Stanford’s campus is also known for being a great place to launch a new company, with top-notch engineering and business programs, an extensive alumni network, and even university-affiliated accelerator programs. Most of the Valley’s most successful companies have some roots here, including Google, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, and Yahoo. We’ve highlighted some of the most successful startups to be born on Stanford’s campus in the last two decades.  San Francisco Chronicle article

San Diego housing fee deal moving forward – Nine months after a business-led referendum campaign blocked sharp hikes in the fees San Diego developers contribute to affordable housing, a City Council committee on Wednesday forwarded a much smaller set of fee increases to the full council for possible approval later this fall.  U-T San Diego article

General Mills shareholders reject proposal to dump GMOs – General Mills Inc. has made strong commitments this year to natural and organic foods. It took genetically modified ingredients out of its signature cereal brand Cheerios and then doubled down on its organic lineup by striking an $820-million deal for Annie’s, a stalwart of the organic and natural foods industry. But when the industrial food behemoth’s shareholders were presented with a proposal to dump all genetically modified ingredients from the company’s vast lineup of brands, they responded with a resounding “No.”  LA Times article


Parched California expected to miss out on typical fall rains – Northern and Central California typically receive 30% to 40% of their precipitation over the next three months, but this year, forecasters say the upper two-thirds of the state can expect to miss out on much of that badly needed moisture.  LA Times article

Well-drilling moratorium sought by some Stanislaus supervisors – An immediate well-drilling moratorium is being called for by at least two members of Stanislaus County’s Board of Supervisors, and the Water Advisory Committee will debate whether that’s needed to protect declining groundwater supplies.  Modesto Bee article

Farmers may need to measure water from Delta – Accused of stealing water released from upstream reservoirs, more than 1,000 Delta farmers may soon be required to report exactly how much water they’ve been diverting — a request that their attorneys argue could be burdensome and unnecessary.  Stockton Record article

Global warming will turn California snow to rain, hurting water supply, federal report says – A first time study by the Department of the Interior predicts less snow in the California Sierras over the next century due to global warming, potentially hammering drinking water stores for the drier months.  KPCC report

Tulare County asks for ACP quarantine expansion – The discovery earlier this month of an Asian citrus psyllid in a Tulare neighborhood has prompted plans to spray trees throughout that area next week to kill other psyllids. That find prompted also Tulare County’s Agricultural Commissioner to ask California’s Secretary of Agriculture Karen Ross to extend a series of quarantines affecting the movement of citrus and citrus trees in parts of the county to cover all of the county.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Drought triggers Southern California tumbleweed infestation – Three years of drought have triggered an infestation of tumbleweeds across Southern California, raising the risk of wildfires, especially in the foothill areas.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Bakersfield Police Department outlines changes in response to audit criticizing department – The Bakersfield Police Department is already implementing many of the high-priority improvements recommended in a recent outside audit but all of the suggestions will take years to put in place, Chief Greg Williamson said Wednesday night.  The department is challenged by “unprecedented” levels of people leaving the department — 47 last year and 35 so far this year — he also told the Bakersfield City Council.  Bakersfield Californian article

Jerry Dyer: A return to community policing in Fresno – Fresno’s police chief writes, “We must return to the era of community policing, solving neighborhood problems and reinforcing positive interaction between officers and citizens if we are truly going to maintain the trust, confidence and support of our communities.” Dyer op-ed in Fresno Bee

LA County to collect more personal data without public notice – Without notice to the public, Los Angeles County law enforcement officials are preparing to widen what personal information they collect from people they encounter in the field and in jail – by building a massive database of iris scans, fingerprints, mug shots, palm prints and, potentially, voice recordings.  LA Times article

Mass shootings in U.S. have tripled in recent years, FBI says – The number of sudden mass shootings in the United States has nearly tripled in recent years, the FBI said Wednesday, prompting the bureau to expand its work with state and local officials to identify potential gunmen before they attack.  LA Times article

‘First Look’: Kern sheriff talks about rise in meth, Prop 47 – Following a Kern Stop Meth Now taskforce report that says 50.2 percent of felonies in this county are meth-related in some way, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said he wants to use more funds to attack the problem.  Bakersfield Californian article

‘First Look’: Bakersfield Police Department chief discusses meth battle in Kern – Methamphetamine use continues to be a problem in Kern County and a new report shows things have grown worse. Dixie King of the Kern Stop Meth Now taskforce said in a report that 37.7 percent of felonies in Kern County included meth-related charges in May 2008. This May the percentage escalated to 50.2.  Bakersfield Californian article

California prisons toughen screening of visitors – Starting next month, California will begin implementing one of the nation’s toughest protocols for access to state prisons in an attempt to reduce the flow of illegal drugs to inmates.  AP article

Woman punched by CHP officer to get $1.5 million settlement – A woman punched repeatedly by a California Highway Patrol officer on the side of a freeway in an incident caught on video will receive $1.5 million under a settlement reached Wednesday night, and the officer has agreed to resign.  AP articleLA Times article

New photos show toll of age, prison on pop legend now in Stockton facility – Two newly released photos of Phil Spector show the toll of age and prison on the once flamboyant music legend. California Department of Corrections spokeswoman Terry Thornton said Tuesday that the October photo was taken when Spector was moved to the prison system’s huge California Heath Care Facility in Stockton. The facility provides medical and mental health care to the state’s sickest inmates, including those with chronic conditions. AP article


Latino network honors Fresno State President Joseph Castro – The California Latino Leadership Network honored Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro and his cabinet Tuesday at a reception at the Fresno Hotel (formerly Radisson Hotel) in downtown Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Modesto area schools get high marks in helping English learners – A new study of what works for English learners highlights Ceres third-graders and Delhi High juniors on best-in-state lists. The Education Trust-West report released Tuesday cites Ceres Unified and Delhi Unified for high achievement levels among poor districts with lots of Spanish speakers.  Modesto Bee article

Fresno Pacific University reaches record enrollment – Fresno Pacific University has recorded its highest-ever enrollment numbers this fall, surpassing 3,700 students for the first time.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno Unified middle school redesign shows positive impact – The first year of Fresno Unified’s effort to remake middle schools has improved student attendance, expanded electives offerings and raised grades in those classes, district trustees were told Wednesday.  Fresno Bee article

Sweep for 87 habitual truants brings 8 back to school – Of 87 students targeted and 62 contacted in sweeps for habitually absent students, only eight were returned to school Wednesday in the first truancy sweep of the school year. Nineteen local law enforcement employees from four different agencies searched Bakersfield schools and knocked on doors of students’ homes to find absent students. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno State joins Clinton Global Initiative program – Fresno State has joined the Clinton Global Initiative University program, giving students the opportunity to participate in the nationwide program that engages the next generation of leaders on college campuses.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno State to publish Bee columnist’s book – Fresno Bee opinion columnist Armen Bacon’s latest book “My Name is Armen — a Life in Column Inches” will be published this November by The Press at California State University, Fresno.  Fresno Bee article

Adolfo Melara is new superintendent of Delhi schools – Alfonso Melara, Delhi Unified School District’s new superintendent, is grateful for the opportunity to lead students and teachers to new heights.  Merced Sun-Star article

New recording studio feeds students’ passion – Ben Quinn was in front of the mic, notebook in hand, recording rap lyrics over a beat while his friend, Deveyion Bobo, stayed in contact in the control room, asking him what he wanted to keep and what he wanted to do again. The two Charter Academy of Visual and Performing Arts students — Quinn is a senior, Bobo a junior — were getting their first chance to use the Manteca continuation school’s new recording studio, which is stocked with industry-standard equipment.  Stockton Record article

UCLA launches effort to bolster inventions and revenue – UCLA on Wednesday launched a new, not-for-profit affiliate and advisory board that will seek to increase the number of patents stemming from faculty research, then get the inventions and discoveries into the commercial realm faster.  LA Times article

San Jose State department abuse of public funds found in state audit – A critical California State University audit has found that the former head of a San Jose State academic department misused campus funds, used an illicit off-campus bank account and engaged in conflicts of interest.  San Jose Mercury News article

LA school board to meet Tuesday; likely to discuss Deasy’s future – The Los Angeles Unified School District has tentatively scheduled a special closed-door session for Tuesday, during which the future of Supt. John Deasy is likely to be discussed.  LA Times article


Recycling advocates ponder expanding California program – Fresh off a resounding victory as the Legislature passed a ban on the single-use plastic bags that gum up recycling machinery and clutter waterways, Californians Against Waste is contemplating legislation to expand the type of materials covered by the state’s program.  Sacramento Bee article

Northern California fires may offer a grim preview for Southland – Northern California is bearing the brunt of wildfires that have destroyed scores of homes and consumed huge swaths of land. The state has seen 1,000 more wildfires so far this year compared to the average, many of them in northern forest areas left bone-dry by the drought.  LA Times article

California officials challenge Benicia crude oil train plan – Brown administration officials say Benicia has underestimated the risk posed by oil trains planned to run through Sacramento and other parts of Northern California to the city’s Valero refinery, and is calling on the city to redo its safety analysis before allowing oil shipments to increase.  Sacramento Bee article

New judge will oversee PG&E rate-setting case – The state agency that regulates Pacific Gas and Electric Co. named a new judge to oversee a $1 billion-plus rate-setting case Wednesday, saying inappropriate lobbying by the utility had “cast a cloud of suspicion” over the process.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Billionaire must let public access Martins Beach, judge rules – The billionaire owner of a beach near Half Moon Bay who provoked a bitter dispute when he cut off access to the sandy haven must let the public back in, a San Mateo County judge ruled Wednesday. San Francisco Chronicle articleKQED reportLA Times article

‘First Look’: Columnist Lois Henry discusses beetle that never existed in Kern – The valley elderberry longhorn beetle that cost Bakersfield taxpayers at least $350,000 in 2010 was not the real beetle. It was actually never here. That is what Californian columnist Lois Henry said Wednesday on “First Look with Scott Cox.”  Bakersfield Californian article

Pollock Pines family recounts how King fire started as small blaze in their backyard – The King fire has raged for nearly two weeks, consumed nearly 93,000 acres of timber across two counties and a national forest, chased more than 2,800 people from their homes and threatened the lives and livelihoods of thousands of others.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

Medi-Cal backlog will be ‘down significantly’ in six weeks – At an Assembly Committee on Health hearing earlier this week, Department of Health Care Services Director Toby Douglas said the backlog of Medi-Cal applications — at one point in March topping900,000 unprocessed eligibility claims — now is down to about 250,000 applications and will be “down significantly” from that by the start of November.  KQED report

Land Use/Housing

State approves affordable housing project in downtown Stockton – Downtown advocates for years have dreamed of residential housing in the heart of Stockton, creating a center-city buzz and a humming urban ambience. A decision Wednesday by a state body in Sacramento is expected to bring the decades-long wait for such a development to an end. The proposed 40-unit Cal Weber affordable housing project is a go.  Stockton Record article


LAX unveils passport-scanning kiosks to speed international travelers – Much the way some supermarket shoppers go through a self-service checkout line, foreign travelers arriving at Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday began passing through automated kiosks that scanned their passports and customs declarations.  LA Times article

Other Areas

Fresno County pot law goes to trial – A lawsuit filed against Fresno County by a woman who was fined $43,000 for growing medical marijuana will go to trial. At issue is whether the removal of marijuana plants within the state’s 15-day grace period can be considered a public nuisance and subject to a hefty fine.  Fresno Bee article

Merced County inspection turns up new violations at Last Hope Cat Kingdom in Atwater – A recent Merced County inspection of Last Hope Cat Kingdom uncovered a number of new violations at the Atwater animal rescue, according to reports obtained by the Merced Sun-Star.  Merced Sun-Star article

Ants blamed for traffic signal damage in Visalia – The city of Visalia is readying to repair significant damage to signals at a busy intersection that public works officials say was caused by ants.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Lemoore pilot in Pacific jet crash makes ‘full recovery’ – A Lemoore-based Navy jet fighter pilot who ejected over the Pacific Ocean after a crash that claimed the life of a fellow pilot has recovered from his injuries, the Navy said Wednesday.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno judge orders Harry Baker to jail for skipping hearings – The law finally caught up with Harry Baker. The former Madera County supervisor was tossed into jail Wednesday for missing two court hearings in his long-running felony child molestation case. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – White House fence jumper is one more casualty of war; Airstrikes in Syria figure to be the start of a long campaign.

Merced Sun-Star – Merced voters must support Measure T.

Modesto Bee – Merced and Turlock are asking voters to confirm the switch to district elections; deciding district boundaries and election rules will come later. We urge passage of both measures.

Sacramento Bee – Chilling report is a global call to action on Ebola epidemic; State Senate should release Dina Hidalgo report details, sordid and otherwise.

Stockton Record – Let’s hope that Endorsement-Gate doesn’t become an issue in the upcoming Stockton City Council election.