September 27, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Jerry Brown launches pitch for Props 1 and 2 – Gov. Jerry Brown launched a statewide campaign Friday — not for his own re-election, but for a pair of state ballot measures that he said were critical for both California’s economic and environmental future. In a conference call with The Chronicle’s editorial board, Brown said he would be campaigning around the state and on TV for Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water infrastructure bond, and Proposition 2, which would increase the amount of potential savings in the state’s rainy-day fund.  San Francisco Chronicle article

CD21: Democrats gaining foothold – Democrats had a net gain of 5,839 registered voters in the 21st Congressional District since the June primary election, while Republicans had a net loss of 548 registered voters, according to figures released this week by the state. Overall, that means the Democratic voter-registration edge in the district — which covers all of Kings and parts of Kern, Tulare and Fresno counties — has grown to more than 17 percentage points.  Fresno Bee article

Voter education need legal tip-toeing, Merced attorney says – It will take careful planning while up against a tight deadline for Merced City Council to complete its Measure T voter education plans and avoid any problems related to that effort, according to its legal counsel.  Merced Sun-Star article

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown mum on tax pledge – Gov. Jerry Brown declined to say Friday if he will maintain the pledge he made in 2010 not to raise taxes without a public vote if – as is widely expected – he wins re-election in November.  Capitol Alert

Valley politics

SD14: ‘Tumbleweeds’ quip used in anti-Chavez mailer; Chavez hits back at Vidak – Luis Chavez is a Fresno Democrat hoping to oust incumbent Hanford Republican Andy Vidak in the 14th State Senate District. State Sen. Kevin de León is a Los Angeles Democrat, is the incoming president pro tem of the body, and a Chavez supporter. So it should come as no surprise that a midsummer gaffe by de León is being resurrected by the California Republican Party for a mail piece in the Chavez-Vidak race.  Fresno Bee article

Swearengin, Xiong endorse each other as Yee wins Fresno political nods – Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and City Council Member Blong Xiong traded endorsements on Friday — she backing his bid for the District 1 Fresno County supervisor seat, and he supporting her state controller run. As Swearengin and Xiong endorsed each other, state Board of Equalization Member Betty Yee — the Democratic Party’s state controller candidate — said she’d earned two key endorsements from right in Swearengin’s backyard.  Fresno Bee articleKVPR report

CD22: Nunes once again in commanding reelection position – At the tender age of 28, Tulare Republican Devin Nunes was elected to Congress. Since then, he’s easily dispatched a string of Democrats and, occasionally, a third-party candidate. He never has won less than 61% of the vote. Twelve years later, it appears to be more of the same for Nunes in the 22nd Congressional District, which is centered on Tulare and Fresno counties.  Fresno Bee article

Jeff Denham: Creating jobs key to Central Valley’s future, health – The Valley congressman writes, “The Valley needs jobs. Business owners need water, we need freedom from burdensome regulation, and we need laws that enable us to plan for the future. That’s been my fight in Congress during my time in office, and I’ll keep up that fight in the years to come.” Denham op-ed in Modesto Bee

West side districts litmus test for Dems – This year’s elections should shed an especially bright light on the state of the Democratic Party in the central San Joaquin Valley’s west side.  Fresno Bee article

Election notebook: Classified union backs Kern High School District incumbents – A local chapter of the California School Employees Association, the union that represents classified employees, has endorsed incumbent school board candidates Martha Miller and Mike Williams in contested Kern High School District races.  Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Major challenges await Bowen’s successor in California – Whoever gets the keys to California’s secretary of state’s office in January will inherit a lengthy to-do list for the post’s role overseeing voting and elections, its most public responsibility. The office also handles businesses filings.  Sacramento Bee article

Bakersfield Californian: Chiang a solid choice for state treasurer – The treasurer plays a critical role in reducing the state’s debt, raising its credit worthiness and assuring the future solvency of public pension funds. California voters should place their trust in John Chiang to accomplish these tasks. Bakersfield Californian editorial


Young Valley immigrants gear up to renew Deferred Action work permits – Martinez Lopez and hundreds of thousands of other young immigrants across the country are now in the process of renewing their permits. But some immigration experts worry that Deferred Action will change or be eliminated after Obama leaves office in 2016, leaving those who registered potentially vulnerable to detention or deportation.  Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Governor signs hospital authority, Internet café bills – Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a pair of locally significant bills — one clearing the way for the creation of a hospital authority to take control of Kern Medical Center, the other making Internet cafes illegal.  Bakersfield Californian article

Jerry Brown signs mail-by ballot bill – Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation allowing mail ballots to be counted in elections if they are postmarked by Election Day and received within three days afterward, his office said Friday. Capitol AlertLA Times article

Gov. Brown calls Dec. 9 special election to fill Rod Wright’s Senate seat –Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday called a special election to fill a vacancy caused when state Sen. Roderick Wright resigned Monday to face a 90-day jail sentence for lying about living in his district. The special primary election for the 35th Senate District will be held Dec. 9. LA Times articleCapitol Alert

Brown signs bill banning state sale or display of Confederate flag – Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that bars state agencies from selling or displaying the Confederate battle flag or any other items that bear the Civil War-era insignia.  KQED report

Before DUI arrest, Hueso told officers he had not been drinking – Sen. Ben Hueso initially told officers he had not been drinking the night he was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, according to an arrest report The Sacramento Bee obtained through a Public Records Act request.  Capitol Alert

Legislation creates official Native American Day in California – Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation on Thursday establishing a new official state holiday, Native American Day, on the fourth Friday in September. The bill, AB 1973, was authored by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez (D-West Covina). State agencies will still be open and state employees will not have the day off from work.  LA Times article

Bakersfield man’s North Korea prison life: Digging, isolation – A Bakersfield man recently sentenced by North Korea to six years of hard labor says he is digging in fields eight hours a day and being kept in isolation, but that so far his health isn’t deteriorating.  AP article

Kathay Feng/Alice Huffman: Give California voters power to challenge unfair districts – Feng, the executive director of California Common Cause, and Huffman, president of the California NAACP, write, “Senate Bill 1365 would give local communities the power to challenge racial gerrymanders that cut up or pack their communities into districts in ways that take away their power to choose who represents them. California can once again lead the way where Washington has failed.” Feng/Huffman op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Bill, Hillary Clinton are grandparents: Chelsea gives birth to a girl – After much public anticipation, Bill and Hillary Clinton have finally become grandparents as their daughter, Chelsea, gave birth to a daughter Friday.  LA Times articleAP article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Gov. Brown signs bills to promote ‘farm to fork’ in California – Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday he has signed a group of bills aimed at promoting the “farm to fork” movement in California that seeks to bring fresh produce and other foods closer to consumers, including many not served by grocery stores.  LA Times articleCapitol AlertSan Francisco Chronicle article

CSU says it will have sexual assault victim advocates at all campuses by June – Cal State University officials have announced that each of the system’s 23 campuses will have a confidential sexual assault victim advocate in place by June.  LA Daily News article

Jobs and the Economy

Economy grew 4.6 percent in second quarter, stronger than earlier estimated – The U.S. economy grew at a 4.6% annual rate this spring, rebounding more strongly than initially estimated from a weather-related winter contraction, the Commerce Department said Friday.  LA Times articleAP article

Former secretary of labor addresses economic inequality – Former U.S. Secretary of Labor, UC Berkeley professor of public policy and author Robert Reich told a packed Merced Theatre about the perils of economic inequality, urging listeners to work to close the growing income gap.  Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno State study finds ‘helicopter parenting’ hurts job prospects –Recent college graduates entering the workforce can already expect the slow recovery of the economy and high unemployment rates to hinder their transition into the professional world, but new research suggests a threat may also be found closer to home. A recent study by two Fresno State Craig School of Business professors found that students who have overly-involved parents are failing to develop vital professional skills.  The Business Journal article

Fulton Mall supporters ask judge to toss environmental report – A group of Fresno citizens hoping to save the Fulton Mall took their case to a judge Friday, saying the city rushed to get a nearly $16 million federal grant to put a street through the historic downtown mall at the expense of doing a thorough environmental impact report.  Fresno Bee article

Flier with serial litigant’s photo circulates as a warning to Atwater businesses – If Atwater resident Aurora Cervantes, a serial litigant who’s sued 14 Merced County businesses, walks through a popular shopping center on Bellevue Road, she might be in for a big surprise. Hanging in the window of several Atwater businesses is a picture of Cervantes’ smiling face.  Merced Sun-Star article

Brown has last say in labor board dispute between LA County, unions – Gov. Jerry Brown has landed in the middle of a simmering feud over who should sit on the independent panels that sort out labor disputes affecting tens of thousands of Los Angeles city and county workers.  LA Times article

Nevada overstating economic benefits of Tesla factory, analysts say –Economists who reviewed Nevada’s economic benefit estimates for the Los Angeles Times concluded something quite different. They pointed to flawed assumptions and inflated projections in the state’s promises of job creation, tax revenue and overall spending created by the $5-billion lithium-ion battery facility.  LA Times article

John Lindt: Hotels, Sequoias visits increase – Visalia metro region hotels were busier in August with occupancy year over year climbing by 3 percent. Hotels recorded a 77.6 percent occupancy rate with revenue per room climbing from $67.23 to $71.08 or 5.7 percent in August. For the year revenue per room has increased by 7.2 percent.  Lindt in Visalia Times-Delta

Judge rules Bee carriers are employees, not independent contractors – In a tentative decision, a judge has granted employee status to an estimated 5,000 Sacramento Bee newspaper carriers who filed a class-action lawsuit against the company and are seeking mileage reimbursements.  Sacramento Bee article

Ride-sharing companies accused of misleading consumers on safety –Since its early days as a taxi alternative for Northern California bar-hoppers, the ride-sharing industry, now worth billions of dollars, has prompted demands for stricter government control from public officials and competing cab companies. LA Times article

Big Soda pops for big bucks to defeat Prop E tax – Like a shaken bottle of Coke opened for the first time, news on San Francisco’s potentially ground-breaking soda tax is exploding all over the place. In just over a month, voters will decide whether we become the first city in the nation to levy a 2-cents-per-ounce surcharge on sodas and other sugary drinks.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Ken Vogel: Real solutions needed for Delta – The San Joaquin County supervisor writes, “For the past seven years, San Joaquin County and our Delta partners have been consistent in our opinion that the BDCP is a gigantic boondoggle that would effectively destroy the Delta as it exists today. And now we have the nation’s authority on the environment, the EPA, agreeing with us. Rather than reallocating water shortages, we should examine ways to sustainably create clean, new water supplies both locally and regionally. Anything short of that is disingenuous, a colossal waste of time and resources and will ultimately fail.” Vogel op-ed in Stockton Record

Lois Henry: Ruling would be unchartered waters for water judge – In case you were wondering, the fate of the Kern Water Bank is still hanging in the balance. Sort of. Back in March, Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley ruled that the water bank’s environmental impact report was inadequate and needed to be redone. The ruling was narrow and pertained only to the bank’s operations.  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

California Foodways: The story behind Stanislaus County’s top crop –Almonds are the top crop in Stanislaus County, bringing in a billion plus dollars in 2013. Walnuts came in third. Nuts aren’t just an economic powerhouse in this region. They’re also key to the county’s past … and future.  California Report

Farm Beat: Meeting will explore water conservation – A meeting Monday will help guide efforts to get federal drought aid to farmers in Stanislaus County. Modesto Bee article

Heritage livestock center near Sanger seeks supporters – Supporters of an effort to build an animal conservation institute in eastern Fresno County will gather Monday night to try and build momentum for the far-reaching project. Fresno Bee article

Central Coast cattle yard sold out from under Visalia owners – More head of cattle could be headed toward the Visalia Livestock Market, the result of the closure of San Luis Obispo County’s last cattle auction house. Templeton Livestock Market’s annual bull sale on Oct. 4 will be its last. After 70 years, the market is closing to make way for a housing development, property owners said Wednesday.  Fresno Bee article

Pig-handling stuns Kern fair-goers – Kern County Fair-goers were outraged Thursday when hundreds of sold hogs housed in a three-section ring erupted in fights. Fair workers, attempting to stop several of the fights, kicked and grabbed the animals and used what looked like large pieces of plastic to try to separate them.  Bakersfield Californian article

West Hollywood water main break gushes 9,600 gallons of water per minute – A water main break on a 36-inch pipe in West Hollywood on Friday afternoon sent torrents of muddy water down Sunset Strip, prompting a series of street closures as crews respond to the mess. At its peak, the break was spewing 9,600 gallons of water per minute, said Michelle Vargas, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Justice Department to ban profiling by federal law enforcement – The Justice Department is expected to issue a broad new policy in the coming two to three weeks banning religious and other forms of profiling by federal law enforcement officers, department sources said Friday.  LA Times article

Alexander Simpson: New law will fix handling of DNA testing cases – The associate director of the California Innocence Project writes, “Senate Bill 980, authored by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Redondo Beach, will streamline the post-conviction DNA process, making it more consistent across counties. SB 980 was approved by the Legislature last month and signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown.”Simpson op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Cop arrested in prostitution sting is set to get $10,579 a month in paid leave – A Glendale police sergeant arrested last month for allegedly soliciting a prostitute will make more than $10,000 a month on paid leave until he retires at the end of 2015, records show.  LA Times article


Fresno Unified gets $7.8 million grant for science-math teacher training – Fresno Unified School District has been awarded a nearly $8 million federal education grant — one of 24 awarded to colleges and school districts nationwide — to improve science and math teacher training. The grant allows the district to establish a Fresno Teacher Residency Program at Fresno State with a focus on science, technology, engineering and math that covers the spectrum of teaching from kindergarten to 12th grade.  Fresno Bee article

Bill awaiting governor’s signature would help foster youth in college –When foster children turn 18 and leave the state’s foster care system, they do so with little more than a bag of clothes. Only 3 percent go on to college. New legislation awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature offers help to foster kids in college by allowing them to live in transitional housing for one additional year. KPBS report

Avenal approves West Hills partnership – Students in the area will get the chance to take some college classes next year without going too far from home. After years of deliberation, the West Hills Community College District and the Reef-Sunset Unified School District have finally agreed on a joint-use plan at Avenal High School. Hanford Sentinel article

Hangars rise to the challenge for Vernalis school training adults with disabilities – The humble coat hanger will serve a noble purpose at the historic Rising Sun Elementary School in Vernalis, thanks to Patterson High School teen welders and an administrator doing his homework.  Modesto Bee article

Cal’s plan: Inch up standards for athlete admissions – It should be harder — but only a little harder — for athletic recruits to qualify for admission to Cal, says a UC Berkeley task force charged with addressing poor academic performance and graduation rates by football and men’s basketball players.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Man maintains innocence, says son was bullied – The mother of a boy whose father is accused of threatening a Columbine-style attack at Bear Creek High School said the defendant was desperate his son was being bullied and the school was not helping him. But, she said, he did not threaten the school. Stockton Record article


Containment of King fire at 74 percent – Containment on the soggy King fire stood at 74 percent as of Friday evening, with the wildfire seeming to be on its way to finally being tamed.  Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Visitors relish Martins Beach after court orders public access restored –Thursday morning at Martins Beach may have looked like any other morning, but it wasn’t. Soon, people began showing up — surfers, a fisherman and a family from Arkansas. They were among the first visitors after a court decision that restored public access.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Panasonic, Coronal complete Valley solar projects – Nine solar projects in Tulare and Kings counties have been completed under a partnership of Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Co. and Coronal Group LLC.  The Business Journal article

Massive solar power project for California desert scrapped – The consortium of solar companies seeking to build a 500-megawatt solar power tower project in Riverside County has formally withdrawn the project’s application from consideration by the California Energy Commission.  KCET report

Beach at Pinecrest Lake getting an upgrade – Beginning Monday, Pinecrest Beach at the Pinecrest Day Use Area is getting an upgrade that will enhance the beach and lake bed, creating a smoother surface by bringing in alluvial sands from the Stanislaus River and removing rocks, boulders and tree stumps, the U.S. Forest Service announced.  Modesto Bee article

Health/Human Services

Merced summit addresses Affordable Care Act progress – Local health care professionals and members of the community gathered on Friday to discuss how the Affordable Care Act has impacted and will continue to impact health coverage in Merced County.  Merced Sun-Star article

‘First Look’: Clinica Sierra Vista triumphs in Covered California enrollments, second phase coming soon – Clinica Sierra Vista came in No. 1 in the state out of 803 community-based organizations for enrolling the most people into Covered California.  Bakersfield Californian article

Vaccine opt-out rate at son’s school is 32 percent – ‘Should I freak out?’ – Earlier this month, State of Health published a chart where people could look up any elementary school in California and see the PBE rate at their children’s schools. Hours after we published, Cosmo Garvin of Sacramento sent me a tweet. “Really nice work,” the tweet said. “But just found out PBE rate at my kid’s school is 32 percent. Should I freak out?” Thirty-two percent. That means one in three kids is not vaccinated.  KQED report

Troy Pope: Thanks, Obamacare, now I see a doctor – The Fresno State student writes, “Despite the pain, both literally and figuratively, of dealing with the slow bureaucracy, it was totally worth it. They set me up with benefits that both helped me avoid death as well as not forcing me to become homeless by being too broke to pay my rent. And for that, I must say, ‘Thank you, Obamacare.’”  Pope op-ed in Fresno Bee

Mosquito bites could deliver other illnesses – Dr. Charles Chiu, associate professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, said it’s possible mosquito bites will deliver a wider variety of illnesses to North Americans in the not too distant future.  Modesto Bee article

Governor’s veto is setback to VSP’s hopes to sell through Covered California – Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that Rancho Cordova’s vision insurer, VSP Global, says was necessary to let it sell coverage through the state-run health care marketplace, Covered California.  Sacramento Bee article

Kaweah Delta to offer more services – In an effort to offer more services in Visalia, Kaweah Delta Health Care District will soon provide emergency and locally-based neurosurgical coverage.  Visalia Times-Delta article


More bus route changes coming to GET – Golden Empire Transit District is making a series of bus route changes it says will improve system efficiency, save money and address criticism its 2012 overhaul left key destinations without convenient access to public transportation.  Bakersfield Californian article

Other Areas

Stockton mayor uses social media to question rivals – Mayor Anthony Silva used social media in recent days to question former City Manager Bob Deis’ ethics and in the process awarded a Facebook “like” to a post that refers to Councilman Elbert Holman as a “crook” and “a worthless piece of (expletive).” Late Friday afternoon, after he had apologized earlier in the day, Silva changed his mind.  Stockton Record article

San Joaquin County workers sue, allege sexual harassment was allowed – Two employees filed a lawsuit against San Joaquin County, claiming they were sexually harassed by a fellow employee and were retaliated against when they came forward with their complaints.  Stockton Record article

Sandy Banks: For some rape survivors, ‘handle with care’ doesn’t help healing – The shame thing has always shrouded sexual assaults, hobbling recovery for survivors and complicating our response. Studies show that more than half of all rape victims never report their attacks; they feel guilty, embarrassed, afraid, worried about what people might think. Piper is part of a small but growing cadre of survivors who insist on going public.  Banks column in LA Times

Sacramento Zoo embraces trend toward small-animal exhibits – The city zoo, in an attempt to make the best of its 14 acres in William Land Park, is following a global trend by refocusing on smaller creatures rather than the traditional large species long considered mainstays of zoos and circus acts. Their effort is reflected in its newest exhibit, Small Wonders of Africa, which opens to the public Saturday.  Sacramento Bee article

Stray cats descend on neighborhoods in Visalia, Tulare – Stray and feral cats have over run some neighborhoods in Visalia and Tulare. Some homeowners say they can’t even enjoy their own backyards because of the smell caused by as many as 40 cats roaming freely.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Bakersfield heroes honored Friday, including hero cat – A veterans group gave an award to a cat Friday. Oh, and the organizers also made time to salute some of the men and women who helped make the world safe from tyranny and fascism.  Bakersfield Californian article

Security hired to protect Sikh Temple worshipers amid dispute – Armed private security officers have been hired to protect worshippers and keep the peace at the Sikh Temple in Hughson because of rising tensions between two factions that disagree over management of the facility.  Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  The treasurer plays a critical role in reducing the state’s debt, raising its credit worthiness and assuring the future solvency of public pension funds. California voters should place their trust in John Chiang to accomplish these tasks.

Fresno Bee – CHP makes swift, fair settlement in punching incident; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – Gov. Brown’s speech to the United Nations laid out a climate plan.

Modesto Bee – Our views: Walking to make a difference for others, the future is in good hands, and other issues.

Sacramento Bee – Getting it right on local school bonds means slowing down.