September 25, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Dan Walters: U.S. Senate candidates Harris and Sanchez putting voters to sleep — Ordinarily, an open Senate seat in the nation’s most populous state would draw big-time attention from politicians, the media and voters. But so far, it’s been the antithesis of exciting, or even interesting. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Fresno mayor hopefuls Brand, Perea leave legislative tracks on area — The two men who are vying to replace termed-out Mayor Ashley Swearengin as head of the state’s fifth-largest city were part of councils that left their mark, and in Perea’s case, also a Board of Supervisors that oversaw Fresno County matters. These results are still evident today, be they something tangible like the northeast police substation, or something more esoteric, like political candidates having to provide more proof that they live in the district they want to represent. Fresno Bee article

Two ‘very good candidates,’ only one spot as Bakersfield mayor — Kyle Carter and Karen Goh are two of the most well-known names in Bakersfield, but they are two very different people. Bakersfield Californian article

Gov. Brown

How will Jerry Brown act on sexual assault, juvenile confinement bills — Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation granting legal protections to Californians who smash car windows to rescue sweltering animals. But coming up on his Sept. 30 deadline to act on hundreds of bills sent to him by the Legislature, Brown has yet to sign or veto several higher profile public safety measures. Here are three we’re watching. Sacramento Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Mike Klocke: Making sense of the state’s propositions – Election Day approaches — and quickly. And if you aren’t prepared, you’ll be befuddled when filling out your absentee ballot in advance or making your choices on Nov. 8. Klocke column in Stockton Record

Fresno Bee: ‘Yes’ on Prop 55 tax, but only because the alternative is worse – If there were even a faint hope that the Legislature might summon the political will to overhaul this state’s dysfunctional tax structure, we would not be recommending Proposition 55’s passage. Given the difficulty of such undertakings in good economic times, however, that’s not the case. Fresno Bee editorial

Modesto Bee: Time to get weed industry under control; pass Prop 64 – Polling shows Proposition 64 is entirely likely to pass. It should. Modesto Bee editorial

Kings County supervisors to vote on tightening marijuana restrictions – The Kings County Board of Supervisors Tuesday will consider officially opposing Proposition 64 as well as approving an ordinance that would tighten regulations on using recreational marijuana in Kings County should the proposition pass on the November ballot. Hanford Sentinel article

How will small marijuana growers stay competitive if California legalizes it? — For decades, small growers in Humboldt County have made a living cultivating and selling cannabis. But over the last 10 years or so, outsiders have been pouring in to the region trying to cash in on the “green rush” for commercial cannabis. The medical marijuana industry has certainly sparked a cannabis boon, but if Californians vote for Proposition 64and allow adults to smoke cannabis purely for recreation, it will be a game changer for the industry. KQED report

Other areas

Gov. Brown signs bill allowing people to break into cars to rescue animals from heat – Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed into law a measure allowing Californians to break into vehicles to rescue animals if they appear to be in danger from excessive heat. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Governor signs Eggman recycling bill – Instead of ending up in landfills or gathering dust in warehouses, old TVs and monitors can be more easily recycled, thanks to a bill by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday. Stockton Record article

Marcos Breton: Hitting Kevin Johnson with a pie won’t help the homeless – None of these issues were served by what Thompson did. He simply became a prop in his own protest, his caused trumped by his target and eclipsed by the very spectacle he created. Someone needs to tell him: Affecting change in Sacramento is not accomplished by assaulting someone. Thompson did nothing for the homeless. He just broke the law. Breton column in Sacramento Bee‘Pie-wielding activist released from Sacramento jail’ in Sacramento Bee

Coastal Commission to gain environmental justice member to represent low-income communities — Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation aimed at providing a greater voice on the California Coastal Commission to racially diverse, low-income communities. LA Times article

Brown signs bill making CPR a requirement for high school graduation — Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill allowing for CPR training to become a high school graduation requirement and a bill that allows good Samaritans to break into unattended hot cars to rescue animals. Capital Public Radio report

News Stories

Top Stories

Farmers say, ‘No apologies,’ as well drilling hits record levels in San Joaquin Valley – Drive through rural Tulare County and you’ll hear it soon enough, a roar from one of the hundreds of agricultural pumps pulling water from beneath the soil to keep the nut and fruit orchards and vast fields of corn and alfalfa lush and green under the scorching San Joaquin Valley sun. Well water is keeping agriculture alive in Tulare County – and much of the rest of the San Joaquin Valley – through five years of California’s historic drought. Largely cut off from the supplies normally delivered via canals by the federal and state water projects, farmers have been drilling hundreds of feet into the ground to bring up the water they need to turn a profit. Sacramento Bee article

Why did it take a dozen years for Fresno’s leaders to wake up to tainted-water problem? — Every step of the way, city water experts missed the warning signs of a bigger problem, even as they paid a company to deliver bottled water to residents like the Conners, and hired a public relations firm to persuade residents to disconnect their water softeners. An overconfident city water department promised at one point that the problem would be over in a week. That was in 2005. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto shopping center moving forward after legal challenge – Construction could start as soon as spring for a northeast Modesto shopping center that will be anchored by a Save Mart now that litigation against the center has been resolved in its favor. Modesto Bee article

Downtown Fresno’s Club One card room comes out of bankruptcy – Downtown Fresno’s Club One is out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after reaching agreement with two former owners to pay them a portion of what they were owed from a 2008 purchase. Fresno Bee article

Visalia Emergency Aid: ‘Satisfying the soul’ – Facing hungry, out-of-work families with children, a small group of relief workers organized the Visalia Central Welfare Council. Eighty-five years later, it’s known as Visalia Emergency Aid Council. Visalia Times-Delta article

Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center is Ranadive’s high-tech vision sprung to life – Golden 1 Center, built for an eye-popping $557 million, will be one of the most high-tech sports facilities anywhere. Fans will speed through “smart turnstiles” to enter and tap their cellphones to find their seat. Tweeting and posting photos to Instagram should be a breeze; the arena comes with enough bandwidth to support a stadium four times as big. And don’t worry about getting a headache from staring at the world’s largest indoor video scoreboard; it was designed by a Walt Disney Co. engineer to minimize eye movement. Sacramento Bee article

Outpouring of love – About 30 members of Bear Creek Community Church converged on Kennedy Elementary School on Saturday to offer help and hope to residents of one of Stockton’s most impoverished and crime-ridden neighborhoods. Stockton Record article

Self-driving trucks threaten one of America’s top blue-collar jobs – Carmaking giants and ride-sharing upstarts racing to put autonomous vehicles on the road are dead set on replacing drivers, and that includes truckers. Trucks without human hands at the wheel could be on American roads within a decade, say analysts and industry executives. LA Times article

Wells Fargo could take back more than $50 million from embattled CEO — Outraged senators castigated Wells Fargo & Co. Chief Executive John Stumpf this week for not seeking to take back some of the $100 million awarded to a retiring executive who oversaw the division at the heart of the company’s fake-accounts scandal. LA Times article

Joe Rodota and Jeff Dorso: How to harvest farm-to-fork’s bounty: Rodota, a writer and political consultant based in Sacrament, and Dorso, managing partner of Pioneer Law Group, write, “Imagine Washington, D.C., without a Capitol Dome. Imagine the Rockettes without Radio City Music Hall. That is Sacramento’s present situation. Our city aspires to be the center of the farm-to-fork food revolution, but we lack a physical place – a public market – that can serve as the centerpiece for our celebration of regional food and agriculture.” Rodota/Dorso op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Michael Fitzgerald: A memory becomes a river – Today water is advancing south down the 63-mile stretch of San Joaquin River bed that sat bone dry for more than 60 years: the San Joaquin River restoration is actually taking place. The water’s vanguard, which is edging forward about 1/3-mile a day, has probably reached an obscure point known only to water wonks called the East Side Bypass Flood Control Structure out in the middle of nowhere in Madera County. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Oakdale Irrigation District considers $4 million water sale — At a special meeting Monday, irrigation leaders will consider selling more river water to buyers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a tradition that has brought in millions of dollars but also controversy to the Oakdale Irrigation District. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

No touching. No human contact. The hidden toll on jail inmates who spend months or years alone in a 7×9 foot cell — Throughout the nation, state prisons have come under intense scrutiny because of concerns that inmates who are deprived of social contact in solitary confinement can suffer serious psychological damage. Last year, spurred by hunger strikes and a lawsuit, the California state prison system reduced the population of its Solitary Housing Unit by thousands of inmates, joining states such as Colorado, Mississippi, Maine and North Carolina that have made similar changes. But long-term isolation in county lockups, where most inmates are awaiting trial or serving short sentences, has largely remained a hidden issue. LA Times article

Gift delivers smiles to Stockton officers — A San Diego woman put a smile on the faces of Stockton police officers Friday when she stopped by police headquarters to deliver hundreds of cards inscribed with heartwarming words of gratitude and support. Stockton Record article

Assemblyman Kevin McCarty: Outsiders must investigate police shootings – The Sacramento Democrat writes, “Based on what we see across the country and in Sacramento, California must insist on independent outside investigations of officer-involved shootings.” McCarty op-ed in Sacramento Bee


Bakersfield Californian: Yes on Measure J, K and N; support Kern County’s schools – Today’s and tomorrow’s Kern County students need and deserve quality schools and educational services. One of the most important things a community can provide is an education-dependent future for its children. Support Measures J, K and N. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Pencils: Schools moving to tech on every desk – While stacks of lined paper still fill classroom cubbies and hardbacks still line the library shelves, schools’ shift to digital platforms is happening as fast as new money and old wiring allow. Modesto Bee article

Fresno State prof gets national science award — Fresno State biology professor David Lent has received the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award. He is the first Fresno State professor to receive the award. The nearly $670,000 award will be used for an education project that will research how animals navigate in complex environments. Fresno Bee article

Pacific breaks ground on residence halls — The University of the Pacific broke ground on its newest residence halls earlier this week, ringing in not only the hope of modern housing units for upper-division students, but the promise of jobs and economic stimulus. Stockton Record article

Principal gets new six-figure job after graphic language prompts lawsuit — The Sacramento City Unified School District paid $175,000 to settle a racial and sexual harassment lawsuit after a former Hiram Johnson High School principal allegedly threatened to “whip” a female after-school employee and later said she would “have enough time to pull your panties down” if she tried to report him. Sacramento Bee article


Lois Henry: Soberanes smoke illustrates one piece of Valley’s air pollution puzzle – You couldn’t have asked for a better real-life, real-time example of how much Northern California’s pollution affects the valley than we got last Monday from the Soberanes Fire burning near Monterey. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

How the moon and big tides could be a trigger for big earthquakes — It’s one of the most enduring mysteries in earthquake science: Why do small earthquakes stay small, while others grow into monsters? A group of researchers offered a partial, but tantalizing answer this month: The moon and big tides. LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Local habitat homes gifts touch of humanity to first-time homeowners — The Velarde family’s smiles could be seen a mile away during the key passing ceremony held Saturday for their new home on South Owens Street. Dozens, including Mayor Harvey Hall, were gathered alongside the Golden Empire branch of Habitat for Humanity to celebrate nearly six months of labor remodeling what is now the Velarde’s new home and the local Habitat’s first “eco-friendly” house. Bakersfield Californian article

Jeff Jardine: Noncomforming Ceres trailer park along Highway 99 on its way out — For nearly seven decades, the Lazy Wheels Mobile Home Park has been living on borrowed use. It is in an area zoned commercial, which is why the park has been in violation for its entire existence, resting at the base of the revamped Whitmore Road overpass along the east side of Highway 99. It has long been considered a blight on the city, a most unattractive collection of about 30 single-wide trailers, worn blue tarps, debris and old vehicles that stood out even more when the attractive new overpass came into being in 2011. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Jasmine Leek and Kristine Williams: Planning for the future – The Third City Coalition members write, “A familiar feel is in the air, and it isn’t the change of the seasons. It’s time — once again — for the city of Stockton to put out notice of its General Plan update process.” Leek/Williams op-ed in Stockton Record


Robin Abcarian: Will San Luis Obispo County follow the lead of Benicia and ban oil trains, or capitulate to Phillips 66? — There were a couple of light moments Thursday at the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission’s interminable, inconclusive public hearing about whether it should allow the fossil fuel giant Phillips 66 to send crude-oil trains across California to its Santa Maria Refinery. Abcarian in LA Times

Other areas

San Joaquin County supervisors making plans to deal with disruptive behavior – Despite a local labor union’s pledge to “not let business continue as usual,” San Joaquin County officials said this week that they will continue to hold public meetings and get things done, although they’ve already canceled their next meeting. Stockton Record article 

Ashliman talks growth and introduces new NASL commander – A new leader for Naval Air Station Lemoore was introduced at a community meeting on Thursday at the Hanford Veterans Hall. Current NASL commanding officer Capt. Monty Ashliman announced that Capt. David James will be taking over as the commanding officer of the base at a Change of Command on Oct. 17. Ashliman also talked about the importance of NAS Lemoore, its growth and the environment. Hanford Sentinel article 

Erika D. Smith: Drug addicts leave park stuck with discarded needles – As opioid abuse has skyrocketed in Sacramento and the rest of the country, such scenes have become common. Cities have had to contend with addicts shooting up in public – sometimes passing out, sometimes dying, but almost always dropping needles. Smith column in Sacramento Bee

Lewis Griswold: Children from five nations bridge continents to make a mural together in peace —  The unveiling of a mural last week at ImagineU Interactive Children’s Museum in Visalia has put the city on the international children’s map. Griswold in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup 

Bakersfield Californian  Today’s and tomorrow’s Kern County students need and deserve quality schools and educational services. One of the most important things a community can provide is an education-dependent future for its children. Support Measures J, K and N.

Fresno Bee – If there were even a faint hope that the Legislature might summon the political will to overhaul this state’s dysfunctional tax structure, we would not be recommending Proposition 55’s passage. Given the difficulty of such undertakings in good economic times, however, that’s not the case. 

Modesto Bee – Polling shows Proposition 64 is entirely likely to pass. It should.

Sacramento Bee – Education is important, so we endorse the extension of income tax hikes on the rich to fund it. But California must find a less-volatile way to fund schools.