September 26, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Money flows in campaign to support, oppose North Fork casino project – Money continues flowing into Proposition 48, a referendum to stop the compact that approved the 305-acre North Fork Mono Rancheria casino and resort north of Madera, according financial disclosure forms filed with the California Secretary of State.  Fresno Bee article

An easy favorite, Gov. Brown is slow to aid fellow Democrats – Facing an uphill climb to regain a two-house supermajority in November, legislative leaders say that they have asked Gov. Jerry Brown to stump for fellow Democrats in a half-dozen competitive districts. But Brown, who is expected to win his own race handily and has not mounted a time-consuming campaign of his own, has not committed to any appearances.  LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Gov. Brown signs bills on birth control, inmate rights – Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed into law bills requiring most health plans to cover a variety of contraceptive methods, banning forced or coerced sterilizations of inmates in California prisons and giving felons behind bars easier access to DNA tests that could prove their innocence.  LA Times article

Valley politics

In Fresno County, Democrats continue to grow voter registration lead over GOP – Fresno County is looking bluer than ever, newly released voter registration statisticsshow. The Democratic Party has now pushed its voter registration lead over the rival Republicans to more than 13,000 countywide. In October 2012, just ahead of the last statewide general election, there were 6,396 more Democrats than Republicans in Fresno County.  Fresno Bee article

Merced Sun-Star: Cannella doing a good job; keep him in state Senate – We strongly encourage voters to return Anthony Cannella to the California Senate.  Merced Sun-Star editorial

Bankruptcy topic of choice at Stockton council candidates forum – Perhaps not surprisingly, bankruptcy and related matters were the hot topic as City Council candidates gathered Thursday night for the first of two public forums ahead of the Nov. 4 election.  Stockton Record article

VIDEO: Merced County Board of Supervisors District 3 candidates forum – The Merced County Association of Realtors held a forum Tuesday morning with Merced County District 3 Supervisor candidates Tony Dossetti and Daron McDaniel.  Merced Sun-Star article

Lemoore hopefuls eye business, drought – The race for two seats on the Lemoore City Council in the upcoming election will likely come down to two factors: experience and ideas. Each of the five candidates on the November ballot will have to deal with issues including the Lemoore Golf Course debate, efforts to attract new business to the city and water issues related to the statewide drought.  Hanford Sentinel article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Marshall Tuck hedges on Prop 30 school funding extension – State schools chief challenger Marshall Tuck would be open to extending Proposition 30, the temporary school funding tax hike passed by California voters in 2012, but only if it’s tied to other changes to the state’s public education system.  Capitol Alert

A rise in voters who shun party affiliation – Increasingly, California voters are giving a thumbs down to both major parties when they register to vote, with those who decline to state a party affiliation now comprising nearly a fourth of the electorate.  Capitol Weekly article

Sacramento Bee: California superintendent race a proxy war between unions and reformers – The donations have been pouring into the campaigns of the two candidates for California state superintendent of public instruction this week.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Bob Pack: Prop 46 will protect patients – The main proponent of Prop 46 writes, “When it comes to protecting patients from drug-addicted or negligent doctors, playing politics and erecting roadblocks to common-sense solutions is not only unacceptable, it’s downright cruel.” Pack op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Paul Phinney: Prop 46 will raise health costs – The immediate past president of the California Medical Association writes, “Proposition 46 would increase costs and limit Californians’ access to the doctors they know and trust. It is opposed by a broad coalition of doctors, community health centers, hospitals, local governments, public safety, business and labor unions, education groups, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU.  Phinney op-ed in Sacramento Bee


U.S.: Immigrant families fail to report to agents – Tens of thousands of young families caught crossing the border illegally earlier this year subsequently failed to meet with federal immigration agents, as they were instructed, the Homeland Security Department has acknowledged privately.  AP article

San Francisco marchers speak out against deportation of children – Dozens of protesters marched Thursday from Justin Herman Plaza to the federal Immigration Court on Montgomery Street to speak out against the deportation of minors and families who have arrived in the United States without authorization.  KQED report

Other areas

California AG Kamala Harris says she’s staying put – California Attorney General Kamala Harris said she plans to remain in her current job following speculation she was on the short list to replace U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who resigned Thursday after six years in the post. Capitol AlertSan Francisco Chronicle article

Eric Holder’s impact on California has been profound – From medical marijuana to same-sex marriage, immigration and civil liberties, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who announced his resignation Thursday, has had a profound impact on California.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Vice President Biden to speak at CSU Bakersfield – Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Bakersfield Oct. 7 will include an event at Cal State Bakersfield’s Icardo Center that will be open to some members of the public, congressional candidate Amanda Renteria announced Thursday.  Bakersfield Californian article

Despite split from group, Google’s links to climate change denial run deep – Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt has given $29,000 over the past six years to politicians who could be lumped in with the “liars” on climate change that he denounced this week.  San Francisco Chronicle article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Dan Walters: Would permanent income tax hike cause exodus of rich? – The debate is likely to heat up again because unions and their allies in the Legislature are beginning to talk about extending the 2012 tax increases or making them permanent, most likely via a ballot measure in 2016. It’s no small matter. The top 1 percent of California income-tax payers now finance a third of the state’s general fund, so their ability and willingness to pay taxes is central to the state’s fiscal health.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Drought has 14 communities on the brink of waterlessness – For some communities, earning a place on the list was the impetus to address problems that should have been fixed long ago. Some drilled new wells, built storage tanks or connected their water systems with larger ones and got off the critical list. Other communities were saved by late spring rains that filled reservoirs and other water supplies. Fourteen communities, though, remain on the list, approaching a crisis point and trucking in water while they work to find a solution.  LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

At Modesto workshop, businesses learn how to avoid disability access lawsuits – The primary message was clear at Thursday’s workshop for businesses hoping to avoid disability access lawsuits: Get expert help. Now. Before you’re sued.  Modesto Bee article

Prices at the pump head below $3 below in much of U.S. – The price of a gallon of gasoline may soon start with a “2″ across much the country. Gasoline prices typically decline in autumn, and this year they are being pulled even lower by falling global oil prices. By the end of the year, up to 30 states could have an average gasoline price of less than $3 a gallon.  AP article

Ross plans two new stores in Kern – Ross Dress for Less plans to launch stores next month in Bakersfield and Delano as part of a wider expansion. The Dublin-based retailer announced Thursday it will open a store at the former Mervyns shopping center on California Avenue, and another at the Delano Marketplace off Woollomes Avenue west of Highway 99.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton Record: Step toward vibrancy – The long fermenting desire to have more affordable housing in downtown Stockton just got hooked up to the proverbial development jumper cables.  Stockton Record editorial

Downtown Modesto loses longtime icon – It can’t be good for Modesto that as it’s trying to jump-start its downtown, one of the longtime businesses leaves. That’s what happened this month when Dittos Print – and its 15 employees – moved about three miles away to the McHenry Village shopping center over the Labor Day weekend. Modesto Bee article

Fresno honored for top Hispanic chamber in U.S. – The Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation was recognized this week as the 2014 Chamber of the Year by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Fresno Bee article

Regal working on selling beer and wine at its Modesto theater – The Regal Modesto Stadium 10 could become the second first-run movie theater in the area to sell beer and wine.  Modesto Bee article

Dozens suggest ways to spend Lodi recreation budget – Dozens of residents had their first chance Wednesday night to influence the city’s plan for recreation and arts spending at a workshop at Hutchins Street Square.  Stockton Record article

San Francisco, LA threaten Uber, Lyft, Sidecar with legal action – The San Francisco and Los Angeles district attorneys have sent letters to ride-share companies Uber, Lyft and Sidecar claiming they are operating illegally and warning them that legal action could follow if they don’t make major changes.  San Francisco Chronicle article;KQED reportLA Times article

Detroit’s elected officials regain control of city – The day-to-day operations of Detroit’s city government are back in the hands of its elected mayor and city council.  AP article


So far, more rain Thursday than past 5 months combined – In a matter of minutes this morning, Stockton saw more rain than the past five months combined.  Stockton Record article

Topseed-turvy: Drought changing local landscaping habits – California’s historic drought has caused problems for residents up and down the state. Locally, one aspect of the drought has landed on residents’ front lawns. Literally. This year, Kern County homeowners are faced with a conundrum: Should they topseed their lawns with winter rye? Bakersfield Californian article

Kings River area shut out in round of drought relief funding – When the Department of Water Resources on Tuesday recommended $200 million to fund drought relief projects, the Kings River area was left out in the cold. The Upper Kings Basin Integrated Regional Water Management Authority applied for more than $11.2 million for five projects, but the proposals didn’t score high enough in the department’s competitive evaluation process to qualify for funding.  Hanford Sentinel article

Waiting for a permanent water fix – For Hamblin Mutual Water Co. in East Hanford, there’s less than an inch of fabric between having tap water and having an entire subdivision run dry. Several hours after its well failed on Tuesday morning, the 38-home county enclave off East Lacey Boulevard started receiving its entire water supply through a fire house attached to a city of Hanford fire hydrant.  Hanford Sentinel article

Local kids pitch drought bill – With lack of water becoming an ever-increasing concern, two Hanford kids have come up with an idea to help with the drought. In late July, brothers Arijeet and Rajvarun Grewal submitted a letter to Assemblyman Rudy Salas proposing that he introduce a bill which would provide subsidies or tax rebates to citizens, businesses and organizations who replace their lawns with synthetic grass.  Hanford Sentinel article

California regulators target popular ag pesticide for limits – State pesticide regulators are seeking to limit one of farming’s most widely used bug killers over concerns that it poses a threat to the public and environment. Chlorpyrifos is used on more than 60 different crops in California, but the state’s Department of Pesticide Regulation wants to make it a restricted material, meaning county agricultural commissioners can approve or deny its use depending on conditions.  Fresno Bee articleAP article

Tulare spray plans revealed – Raul and Eva Medina had never heard of the Asian citrus psyllid or the huge threat the tiny, gnat-sized insect poses to California’s citrus industry. But after the couple received a letter form the California Department of Food and Agriculture about the psyllid and plans to spry citrus trees across their central Tulare neighborhood in hopes of killing them off, they decided to find out more.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Terry Lehenbauer: Dairy herd health is paramount – The director of the UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center writes, “We at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine are doing all we can to keep our state’s dairy cows healthy and to help California continue its leadership as the No. 1 dairy state – and to keep our Valley the heart of that industry. Healthy herds are important to human health and to the continued strength of both our regional and state economy.” Lehenbauer op-ed in Fresno Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Gang shootings up in Bakersfield – Gang-related shootings are up this year, but homicides are far down, city statistics show — though drawing conclusions from the numbers is not easy. A recent memo from Police Chief Greg Williamson to City Manager Alan Tandy reveals a 20 percent rise in gang-related shootings during the first eight months of this year relative to 2012 and 2013.  Bakersfield Californian article

California governor signs inmate sterilization ban – California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that bans prisons from sterilizing inmates without their consent, his office said on Thursday, after media reports and a later audit showed officials failed to obtain consent from dozens of incarcerated women.  Reuters article

Woman beaten by CHP officer settles, but activists ‘want him in prison’ – Civil rights activists plan to launch a new campaign Thursday for the criminal prosecution of a California Highway Patrol officer caught on video repeatedly punching a woman on the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles, saying the officer’s resignation and a $1.5-million settlement do not go far enough.  LA Times article‘Settlement in CHP beating was swift and fair’ –Sacramento Bee editorial

Officer’s ouster in CHP beating settlement may influence similar cases – A settlement requiring a California Highway Patrol officer to step down after he was videotaped punching a woman along the 10 Freeway is highly unusual and could lead to similar demands in future police misconduct lawsuits, lawyers said Thursday.  LA Times article

California prison guard union leader to retire – The leader of the union representing state prison guards is retiring, leaving an organization that had sparred with then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger before making peace with Gov. Jerry Brown. Mike Jimenez will be succeeded in January by Chuck Alexander, who is executive vice president of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. The union voted for the switch during its annual meeting this week in Las Vegas.   Sacramento Bee article

San Diego to pay $5.9 million to woman assaulted by officer – The city of San Diego has agreed to a $5.9 million settlement with a woman who was sexually assaulted by a police officer after a traffic stop, officials announced Thursday.  LA Times article

Former Bakersfield Police Chief Eric Matlock dies – Following an example set by his own family, he pursued a life of public service, rising through the ranks of the Bakersfield Police Department to serve as the first black police chief in the city’s history. Eric Matlock, a career law enforcement professional who blazed a path for those who might aspire to follow his example, died Thursday after a three-year struggle with cancer. He was 65.  Bakersfield Californian article


Federal education leader checks out Linked Learning in South Valley schools – A high-level official in the federal Department of Education visited Monache High on Thursday to see for herself a program linking academics, career technical education and workplace experience.  Fresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Michael Fitzgerald: Stockton Unified impasse: Does union fear change? – Teachers deserve fairness. But Stockton will never, ever reach its potential — nor will thousands of young minds — as long as its largest school district is held back by a union putting self-protection over student achievement.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Jennifer Lehon: Teachers deserve more credit, pay – The Stockton Unified elementary teacher writes, “I don’t think SUSD and the community understand the dedication the teachers have made to their children. We are invested in these kids not only with our time but emotionally as well. Their success is our success. Isn’t it about time SUSD starts taking care of its most valuable resource — its teachers?” Lehon op-ed in Stockton Record

Lack of state funds will delay Weaver Union School District upgrading – The news was devastating, Karen Wallace says. Wallace, a member of the Weaver Union School District board of trustees, is crestfallen after learning the district can’t depend on the state for about $18 million in hardship funding to supplement its $9 million in bond funds for long-range upgrading of its schools.  Merced Sun-Star article

CSU Bakersfield animal treatment facility closes – Cal State Bakersfield confirmed Thursday a Facility for Animal Care and Treatment (FACT) center the school housed for close to 40 years has closed due to a budget shortfall.  Bakersfield Californian article

Cal State Dominguez Hills approves first large-scale test of Google Glass – Dozens of Cal State Dominguez Hills students and professors could be sporting head-mounted computers this spring after the university agreed to become the first in the nation to test Google Glass in a large-scale pilot program.  LA Times article

LA Unified oversight panel rejects $42 million for computers – The Los Angeles school district’s bond oversight panel rejected a move Thursday by officials to spend an additional $42 million on new computers, including purchases under a controversial — and recently suspended — technology contract.  LA Times article

San Diego State students protest sexual assaults – Concerned over three reported sexual assaults of students in 21 days, a group of San Diego State University students staged a lunchtime demonstration in support of abuse victims and to call on the governor to sign the “yes means yes” bill that sets a new standard for public colleges when evaluating claims of sexual assault.  U-T San Diego article


Mining for sand for fracking holds risks for communities, study says –  As a domestic energy boom driven by hydraulic fracturing spreads, so could strip-mining for sand needed for the controversial production process, introducing risks to water, air, public health and property values, according to a report issued Thursday.  LA Times article

Nation’s largest battery storage project charges forward in Kern County – The largest battery-based grid power storage system in North America just went online in Kern County. With a storage capacity of 32 megawatt-hours, enough to power a typical American home for about 15 months, Southern California Edison’s Tehachapi Energy Storage Project is intended to allow grid operators to store surplus power from nearby fields of wind turbines in the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area.  KCET report

Fresno City Hall pushes for lower fees to use landfill owned by Fresno County – Fresno will continue taking its trash to a Fresno County-owned landfill. The unknown is for how much longer. The City Council on Thursday agreed to extend the city’s deal with the American Avenue landfill on a month-to-month basis. The contract ended June 30.  Fresno Bee article

Federal report shows how solar panels may hit utilities’ profits – For years, utility executives have watched the rapid spread of rooftop solar power with trepidation, seeing a potential threat to their profits. A new federally funded report suggests that it’s not an idle fear.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Rain helps subdue King fire; containment at 55 percent – Rain clouds that blew in Thursday from the Pacific Ocean helped firefighters make substantial progress on the King fire, with the huge blaze declared more than half contained for the first time since it started nearly two weeks ago.  Sacramento Bee article

Water shortages not a problem for King fire crews – Over the past two weeks, as the King fire raced through dry Sierra forestland before Thursday’s rain, fire crews had no trouble finding enough water to battle the blaze, although they have had to get creative to access some lakes and reservoirs that have shrunk during the state’s severe drought.  Sacramento Bee article

California oil train bill wins Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature – California’s emergency responders will receive more information about trains carrying crude oil under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday.  Capitol Alert

Health/Human Services

Valley counties awarded federal grants to improve health – Two public health departments and a regional health initiative in the central San Joaquin Valley have been awarded multimillion-dollar federal grants to improve health and prevent chronic diseases. Fresno County was awarded $1,585,154 and Merced County was given $1,350,000 for the first year of a three-year grant from Partnerships to Improve Community Health, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.  Fresno Bee articleMerced Sun-Star article

First human cases of West Nile virus confirmed in Merced County – The first human cases of West Nile virus in Merced County have been confirmed, county health officials announced Thursday. Richard Rios, public health program manager with the Merced County Department of Public Health, said two adults tested positive for the virus. Both of the individuals were hospitalized and have recovered, officials said.  Merced Sun-Star article

Dental centers say children’s treatment delayed by health plan rules – According to surgery center owners, treatment has been delayed for about 400 other low-income children and developmentally disabled adults since Health Plan of San Joaquin imposed new rules for authorizing dental anesthesia for member patients in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.  Modesto Bee article

Overworked and underpaid? You may be at a greater risk of diabetes –  Do you ever feel like your job is killing you? If you work long hours, your job might be giving you diabetes.  LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

A view from the top (and bottom) of McCaffrey’s Tesoro Viejo – The big stars and stripes barn on Highway 41 is a landmark that welcomes motorists traveling into Madera County from Fresno. The barn and the 200 acres it sits on at Avenue 12 is owned by homebuilder McCaffrey Homes. There are no plans yet to develop that property. But travel a little further north to Avenue 14 and you’ll hit the start of Tesoro Viejo, the builder’s gigantic master-planned community in the heart of Madera’s Rio Mesa growth area. A groundbreaking is planned for late 2016.  Fresno Bee article

Granville honored for sustainable growth project in Fresno – Granville Homes is the winner of three Blueprint Awards from the San Joaquin Valley Regional Policy Council.  Fresno Bee article


Atwater-Merced Expressway hits milestone, will reroute commuters – The $66 million first phase of the Atwater-Merced Expressway is reaching a notable point in construction but is still several steps away from improving travel in the area, according to regional officials.  Merced Sun-Star article

Corrosion feared as water leaks into Bay Bridge’s new span – Several of the giant steel rods that anchor the tower of the new Bay Bridge eastern span to its base have been exposed to water — possibly for years — that could cause corrosion to attack them, bridge officials said Thursday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other Areas

City of Fresno to pay $1.15 million to Donovan Maldonado’s family in DUI death – The city of Fresno and the drunken driver who killed 7-year-old Donovan Maldonado in a crosswalk near Woodward Park two years ago have agreed to pay the boy’s family more than $1 million to settle a civil lawsuit, according to the family’s attorney.  Fresno Bee article

Centennial Plaza bricks issue headed back to Bakersfield council – Six trees outside Centennial Plaza will be replaced and its main fountain restarted — but a city committee referred the fate of thousands of commemorative bricks and tiles back to the Bakersfield City Council.  Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento goal: Pedestrian power – Sacramento city officials are writing up a set of guidelines this fall that they and neighborhood residents can use to determine what strategies are most appropriate on different streets around town to make them safer for walking.  Sacramento Bee article

Board of Equalization headquarters move not yet justified, audit says – Just days after Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation allowing plans to be developed for a new headquarters for the State Board of Equalization, the state auditor warned Thursday that the state has not yet prepared a properly supported analysis demonstrating that moving from the current problem-plagued building will see more benefits than costs.  LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Bears descend into Bakersfield at historic rate; is drought to blame? – The number of black bear sightings in Kern County is off the charts this year. At least six bears have entered residential areas in Bakersfield over the past two weeks. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has responded to 10 to 20 times the number of bear calls from a year ago. When the calls come in, biologist Vicki Monroe gets on the road to check out the situation. We caught up with her after what she called a crazy day. California Report

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Marshall Tuck deserves vote for California’s superintendent of public schools; Global report is a chilling call to action on Ebola epidemic.

Merced Sun-Star – We strongly encourage voters to return Anthony Cannella to the California Senate.

Modesto Bee – We strongly encourage voters to return Anthony Cannella to the California Senate.

Sacramento Bee – The settlement in the CHP beating case was swift and fair; California superintendent race is a proxy war between unions and reformers.

Stockton Record – The long fermenting desire to have more affordable housing in downtown Stockton just got hooked up to the proverbial development jumper cables.