September 27, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

California income tax has wide lead, fewer back $2-a-pack tobacco tax increase — California’s likely voters solidly support a fall initiative to extend higher income taxes on top earners, while a separate proposal to boost state taxes on tobacco is clinging to a majority vote, according to a new survey released Monday. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: California needs to approve Jerry Brown’s plan to increase housing — We need roughly 100,000 units of new housing each year to accommodate that growth, but our net increase has been scarcely two-thirds of that, thus increasing the shortage each year. Gov. Jerry Brown proposed steps similar to those contained in the White House toolkit – fast-tracking for certain kinds of housing to fill the most critical needs. But his “by right” plan went nowhere in the Legislature because environmental groups, labor unions and local governments joined forces to kill it. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

Brown vetoes bill to raise price of concealed gun permits – Though often sympathetic to new gun regulations, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday vetoed legislation that would have allowed sheriffs to raise the price of obtaining a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Sacramento Bee article

As Jerry Brown shrinks pile of bills, fate of ‘all-gender’ bathrooms still unknown — Gov. Jerry Brown signed nearly 90 bills over the weekend and vetoed 24 more, leaving him with 353 measures yet to decide this week, according to Brown’s office. Here’s one major bill that remains unsettled ahead of his Sept. 30 bill signing deadline.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics 

Bakersfield mayoral candidate’s work office burglarized – Someone broke into mayoral candidate Karen Goh’s work office over the weekend and stole a laptop computer and several information storage drives, she said Monday. Bakersfield Californian article

Valadao bill on identify theft wins bipartisan support — Social Security numbers would get an extra level of protection, under a bill by Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, that’s set for House approval Monday. McClatchy Newspapers article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

New voter database clears path for 16-year-old pre-registration, other laws – After years of technology glitches and vendor problems, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla made it official Monday: the state’s new voter registration database is finally complete. Padilla’s certification of VoteCal as the system of record for voter registration in California clears the way for the state to begin pre-registering 16- and 17-year-olds via paper registration forms. Starting in January, people will be able to register to vote on Election Day. Sacramento Bee article

‘You live in some fantasyland’: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom receives flood of criticism on gun and marijuana initiatives –  Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday received a flood of critical remarks from gun owners and others when he opened up a live Q&A session on Facebook in which he invited questions on his gun control measure, Proposition 63, and his initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana, Proposition 64. LA Times article

Michael Vitiello: Plan to legalize marijuana is worth supporting – barely – The professor at the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento writes, “Proposition 64 would be a marked improvement upon the current system. I probably will vote yes. But I won’t inhale.” Vitiello op-ed in Modesto Bee 

State watchdog agency to investigate funding of campaign against marijuana legalization measure – The state campaign watchdog agency will investigate allegations that a Washington, D.C., group failed to properly disclose how it is funding a campaign against Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational use of marijuana in California, according to a letter released Monday. LA Times article

Bakersfield Californian: Reform state school bonds; vote no on Prop 51 — Proposition 51 seeks to perpetuate a nearly two-decade-old school bond program that is unfair, adds significantly to the state’s debt and should be reformed. Gov. Jerry Brown repeatedly has called the $9 billion school bond measure on the November ballot “a blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money.” We agree. Bakersfield Californian editorial 

Sacramento Bee: Prop 54 is right call for more transparency at Capitol – Giving the public more power to peer into the murkiness of state politics is generally a good thing. And so we find it hard to object to Proposition 54, which would slow the last-minute surge of bills that get shoved through the Legislature every year, usually with nowhere near enough scrutiny. Sacramento Bee editorial

Kathy Flaherty: Don’t buy Big Tobacco’s lies, Prop 56 will help kids and everyone else – The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network’s California lead ambassador writes, “Prop 56 is a win-win for taxpayers and schools. The only loser is Big Tobacco and isn’t it about time we triumph over an industry that causes so much tragedy and death?” Flaherty op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

California Politics Podcast: Polls on propositions, new accusations in Silicon Valley congressional race — The last few days have seen the release of an enormous amount of polling data on some of the most high-profile state propositions this election season. And in many cases, the early reviews from voters are good. On this week’s podcast episode, we take a closer look at the polling data and the race still to come on proposals to legalize marijuana, raise taxes and more. California Politics Podcast in LA Times

Other areas

Minors won’t be arrested for prostitution in California – Cementing a major shift in how California handles sex crimes, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed legislation decriminalizing prostitution for minors. By prohibiting law enforcement from arresting people under the age of 18 for soliciting or loitering with intent, Senate Bill 1322 effectively shields those young people from criminal penalties. Advocates argued that young sex workers should be treated as victims, not criminalsSacramento Bee articleLA Times article

California expands restrictions for phone use while driving – Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed Assembly Bill 1785, significantly expanding California’s restrictions on the use of mobile phones behind the wheel. The measure forbids drivers from “holding and operating” their devices for any reason, though it does include an exception for functions that require only “the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger,” as long as the phone is mounted on the windshield or dashboard of the car. Sacramento Bee article 

Joel Fox: Transportation special session in gridlock — Much like much of the state’s traffic, the legislative special session on transportation/infrastructure is stuck in gridlock. Democratic legislators have a plan to provide $7.5 billion a year in new tax revenue. The governor’s plan also includes tax increases. Republicans want to use current tax revenue more efficiently, cap and trade funds for roads or direct some of the road related monies like truck weight fees directly into road improvements. Neither side budges. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Gov. Brown signs bills to curb gun thefts from police cars, speed up confiscation of firearms from felons – Capping a year of major gun control legislation in California, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a raft of bills including one addressing a series of killing involving firearms stolen from law enforcement vehicles. LA Times article

Families of school maintenance workers and bus drivers won’t be getting higher death benefits – Citing the high cost of government employee pensions, Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday vetoed an effort to boost the death benefit paid to families of public school cafeteria workers, maintenance staff and bus drivers. LA Times article

College students can still light up after Brown vetoes smoking ban – Score one for smokers. On Monday, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a proposed ban on cigarettes and other tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, at all California State University and community college campuses. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes bill that would raise funeral benefit for CalPERS members – Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday vetoed a bill that would have escalated a death benefit paid by the California Public Employees Retirement System that’s intended to offset funeral costs for its members. Brown said he was concerned about CalPERS unfunded pension liabilities. Sacramento Bee article

Jerry Brown signs battery fee, other bills spurred by environmental disasters – Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed bills reacting to a pair of environmental disasters that prompted outrage and calls to better protect Californians from hazardous pollution. Sacramento Bee article
Californians to decide record-high 650 local ballot measures this November — When California voters open up their November election ballots, they won’t just see 17 statewide propositions. There are a record 650 local ballot measures — including 425 tax and bond measures that seek to raise or extend local revenues. Capital Public Radio report

Activist who threw pie at Mayor Kevin Johnson wants charges dropped – The activist who hit Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson in the face with a coconut cream pielast week would like to see all charges dropped because he already received “street justice” when Johnson tackled and punched him, according to his lawyer. Sacramento Bee article

Time is right for making California’s political ethics law clearer, says co-author – More than 40 years ago, Bob Stern was on the team that crafted California’s Political Reform Act (PRA), the incredibly detailed ethics, campaign disclosure and lobbying guidelines for elected and public officials in California. Over the last several months, the Fair Political Practices Commission, in partnership with California Forward, and law students at UC Berkeley and UC Davis, have engaged in a review and revision process intended to simplify and streamline the law. Today, Stern reflects on that process, the many changes the PRA has gone through over its lifetime and the current project to modernize the act. California Forward article

State Bar facing fiscal crisis — The agency that protects Californians from unethical lawyers faces an uncertain future because of complaints about its ability to do its job. Capitol Weekly article

Jeff Jardine: Anthem protest draws sideline ban for Patterson youth football aide – Three times this season, Sean Hansen took a knee on the sideline and raised his fist during the playing of the national anthem before a Trans Valley Youth Football League game. Not anymore. He can still kneel out the “Star-Spangled Banner” – while wearing his red No. 7 49ers jersey – but only from the stands and not on the field. League president John Nixon last week banned Hansen, 40 and the parent of a Patterson Ravens player, from being on the field due to his protests. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Reginald Williams: Terrorism in perspective – The tenured philosophy professor at Bakersfield College and an editorial board member of Public Affairs Quarterly writes, “It’s easy to be fearful, and terrorists want us to be. They want fear to influence our politics. Terrorism is violence that is used to induce fear in a people for political purposes. Politicians who inspire or exploit a people’s fear of terrorism grant terrorists the very influence they seek. They send the message that terrorism guides our politics. Let’s send a different message this November.” Williams op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Presidential Politics

The most memorable moments from the first presidential debate – The first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump was one of the most anticipated skirmishes in presidential history. It didn’t disappoint. LA Times article

Cathleen Decker: Trump flinched under Clinton’s pressure, but this race is not over – Donald Trump left the protective bubble of his partisans on Monday and learned a well-established truth about campaigns: The rhetoric that draws rapturous applause at rallies doesn’t play as well in the outside world. Decker in LA Times

News Stories – Top Stories

Yosemite chief apologizes to unhappy park workers – Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher has broadly apologized to park employees, in a remarkable bow to harsh criticisms leveled last week at a congressional oversight hearing. Amid a newly revealed Interior Department investigation, and with whistleblowers and lawmakers alike now scrutinizing his actions closely, Neubacher offered contrition for what he acknowledged to be “serious staff concerns.” Fresno Bee article

Divided Oakdale Irrigation District board Oks $2 million water sale — On a 3-2 vote after a lengthy discussion about fears of eroding water rights, irrigation leaders agreed Monday to sell some Stanislaus River water in coming weeks. Releasing 8,000 acre-feet of water will kill three birds with one stone, the Oakdale Irrigation District board majority reasoned: the deal will bring $2 million to OID, help farmers with thirsty crops on the west side of Stanislaus County and points south, and satisfy wildlife officials and environmentalists by swelling the river to help migrating fish. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto considers accepting grant to hire firefighters – The City Council will consider Tuesday accepting a grant that will let the Fire Department hire nine firefighters for two years and put back into service an engine company that was eliminated in a 2011 budget reduction. Modesto Bee article

Airbnb takes a toll on U.S. lodging industry, but LA hotels continue to thrive – The U.S. hotel industry’s robust recovery from the recession is expected to slow down next year partly because of growing competition from short-term rental companies like AirbnbLA Times article 

Disney’s rumored Twitter bid raises doubts – One is an entertainment giant famous for exacting tight control over its content. The other is a tech firm whose commitment to free speech has earned it a reputation as a hub for news and a haven for online harassment.  Together, they make for a brow-raising pairing. But stranger things have happened in the land of acquisitions than the chatter surrounding Walt Disney Co. and Twitter Inc. LA Times article 

Foon Rhee: Can Kings create an iconic public square? — Will Downtown Commons in Sacramento ever be as well-known or grand as St. Mark’s Square in Venice? Highly doubtful. But it couldn’t hurt to borrow its best features. So make sure there are outdoor cafes. And make sure they hire a decent band. Rhee column in Sacramento Bee 

SpaceX’s Elon Musk is set to announce plans for colonizing Mars — As if he doesn’t have enough on his plate with solving the mystery of an exploding rocket and tweaking Tesla’s driver-assistance software, SpaceXChief Executive Elon Musk will discuss plans for colonizing Mars at a space conference in Mexico on Tuesday. LA Times article


River flow plan will get airing at Modesto meetings — The state’s new proposal to increase river flows could get its first formal response Tuesday from the Modesto Irrigation District board. Expect it to be critical. A day later and a few blocks away, a high-ranking official who helped craft the plan will discuss it with the Stanislaus County Water Advisory Committee. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

FBI reports reveal slight increase in violent crime from 2014 to 2015 – In Bakersfield, a total of 1,810 violent crimes were reported in 2015 compared to 1,678 violent crimes in 2014. Violent crime as defined by the FBI’s Uniformed Crime Reporting Program records four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Bakersfield Californian article

Juvenile held in social media threat to shoot up Fresno schools – Fresno police arrested a juvenile Monday evening who is suspected of posting social media threats to shoot up local schools, including Fresno High School. Fresno Bee article

Stockton community rocked over slaying of 3-year-old girl– A 3-year-old girl was senselessly shot and killed Sunday evening while in a car with family members traveling down a south Stockton residential street, police said. “This is as bad as it gets,” said a Police Department employee who is not authorized to speak to the media. Stockton Record article

Dyer: Police moving on vandals who attacked CHP car in Fresno – Fresno police are close to identifying and possibly arresting several people involved in vandalizing a California Highway Patrol SUV during a “sideshow” event involving racing and reckless driving Sunday, Chief Jerry Dyer said Monday afternoon. Fresno Bee article

Once a sexually violent offender has served his time, where can he live? — The law allows judges to confine sexually violent predators in state hospitals if they have a mental disorder that makes them likely to reoffend. But Snyder, who has been in the hospital for 10 years, finally has received the go-ahead from a Fresno County judge that will allow him to re-enter society. But finding a home could prove difficult. Fresno Bee article

Communities weigh in on improving mental illness treatment in and out of incarceration — Both challenges and best practices involving the mentally ill in Los Angeles County’s criminal justice system were in the spotlight at the Mental Health Services Oversight and Advocacy Commission (MHSOAC) hearing and a Subcommittee Public Engagement Meeting last week. California Forward article

‘I want to cry. I’m in book heaven.’ How one reading advocate hopes to change the lives of juvenile hall detainees through a library —  On one wall of her small classroom at Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall, Zoila Gallegos had set up a makeshift library, but it was never enough. Gallegos, a reading specialist with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, has worked at the juvenile lockup in Downey for the past nine years. A child of immigrants who grew up in South Los Angeles, she struggled with English and reading and with the poverty and violence in her neighborhood. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school. LA Times article


Special-need students hospitalized after being tube-fed bleach at school – Two students at Addicott Elementary School in Fresno were hospitalized after ingesting bleach via their feeding tubes. According to an email sent to Fresno Unified officials on Sept. 19, the students were in stable condition. Fresno Bee article

SAT scores: California lags nation – California’s Class of 2016 scored lower than the national average on SAT reading and math tests, although state students outperformed their national peers in writing, just-released scores show. East Bay Times article

Trustee Ashjian says Fresno Unified’s query into his business is political attack – The Fresno Unified School District is questioning whether trustee Brooke Ashjian’s business dealings pose a conflict of interest with his position on the school board after Ashjian – who owns a paving company – filed a much more detailed financial disclosure form. Fresno Bee article

Karin Klein: Is athletics too big on campus? – Americans quickly flipped from touched admiration to growling resentment over the college librarian’s gift to his employer. Robert Morin, a frugal man who amassed a $4 million fortune, bequeathed it to his alma mater and longtime workplace, the University of New Hampshire, with just one requirement: At least $100,000 had to go to the library. And that’s exactly how much went in that direction, while 10 times as much is being spent for an electronic football scoreboard. Klein in Sacramento Bee

Planada to talk concealed carry at school – Planada Elementary School District is in the process of updating its security plan, and among the options on the table is the possibility of allowing school administrators to carry guns. Merced Sun-Star article

New panel to assess New Jerusalem charter school oversight – The New Jerusalem Elementary School District announced it will meet with five educational leaders from throughout California this week who will serve as a panel to determine the district’s oversight effectiveness as a charter school authorizer. Stockton Record article

Students soar to new heights at STEM Runway — While planes were flying high at the Salinas Airshow over the weekend, 570 students from around California got their hands dirty at the fourth annual Young STEM Talent Runway exhibit. Visalia Times-Delta article

Physical fitness central to Sacramento district’s focus on the ‘whole child’ — When Gov. Jerry Brown pushed his idea for giving local schools and districts more control over decision making, few people would have predicted that in at least one California elementary school district physical education would rise to the top of its list of priorities. Sacramento Bee article


10 years in, has California’s climate law really lowered emissions? – Ten years later, few would argue that California hasn’t done its fair share in the fight against climate change. But the question of how much the Global Warming Solutions Act, still known by its legislative shorthand as AB 32, has actually cut California’s greenhouse gas emissions, is tougher to get at. KQED report

Is rooftop solar worth it?  Californians consider the question as use, complaints rise – As surely as the sun rises in the East, Californians regularly encounter advertisements for the benefits and cost savings of home solar systems and energy efficiency upgrades. Their ubiquity reflects California’s policy goals. Solar power and energy-efficient homes are two blocks in the edifice of climate-friendly energy programs California has been building. Sacramento Bee article

Costa, McCarthy ask to end log export ban — Valley Congressman Jim Costa is asking US Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to consider lifting a ban on log exports from Forest Service lands in the western states. The idea has been promoted by Tulare County Supervisor Steve Worthley as perhaps the only way to clear the massive and growing backlog of millions of dead trees in the Sierra including Tulare County. Visalia Times-Delta article

New solar panels churn electricity on 1,900 acres near Tranquallity — A 1,900-acre installation of solar panels near Tranquillity fired up commercial power production on Monday, generating up to 200 megawatts of electricity for Southern California Edison. Fresno Bee article 

More than 100 earthquakes hit Salton Sea amid quake swarm — More than 100 small earthquakes — including three of a magnitude greater than 4 — struck the Salton Sea area Monday. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Doctors prescribe fruits, veggies to help low-income patients get access to healthy food — U.S. food banks — the organizations on the front lines of fighting hunger — increasingly are promoting “food as medicine” strategies designed to address, not exacerbate, the high rate of chronic health problems among the poor. KQED report

New lungs give Stanislaus teacher new lease on life — At age 37, Jeremy Ross is learning something most people never are taught: how to breathe. Born with the genetic disease cystic fibrosis, the Riverbank resident never has experienced natural, deep breathing. Before a double lung transplant at Stanford a week ago, his lung function fell as low as 20 percent. Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Summerset Apartments owner argues against $290,000 in fines — An appeal of fines levied against the owner of Summerset Village Apartments in central Fresno is in the hands of an administrative hearing officer, nearly a year after 1,000 residents went without heat or hot water for several weeks. Fresno Bee article 

Eminent domain nears for six structures in Centennial’s path – Demolitions, empty, vandalized houses and — coming this week — discussions by the Bakersfield City Council are signs the Centennial Corridor freeway connection is coming. Bakersfield Californian article

Carmen George: Fresno group helps former homeless turn apartments into homes — Two years ago, a group of churchgoers arrived at the apartment of a former homeless woman they helped find housing and found her asleep on the floor in a bare room. Alarmed, they dug through their homes and called friends and family to scrounge up all the furniture they could find until her apartment became a home. This was the birth of Wings Advocacy Fresno, a ministry that provides free home furnishings for former homeless andhelps those living on the streets obtain California identification cards at the DMV – a crucial first step in obtaining housing. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Brik McDill: What’s an ethical decision, and how do we make one? — Why is the “right thing” the right thing to do…? And just how does one determine exactly what the right thing is? Right for me, right for you, best for us, best for whom, most pleasurable, golden mean, right for the short term, right for the long term? Right for the privileged? Right for the greatest number? The angles are legion. And there’s the rub. And that’s why philosopher/ethicists are in demand in almost every field. McDill column in Bakersfield Californian

Valley Editorial Roundup

 Bakersfield Californian  Proposition 51 seeks to perpetuate a nearly two-decade-old school bond program that is unfair, adds significantly to the state’s debt and should be reformed. Gov. Jerry Brown repeatedly has called the $9 billion school bond measure on the November ballot “a blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money.” We agree.

Fresno Bee – When it comes to California’s public schools, the question should always be: What’s best for students? By that measuring stick, voters should support Proposition 58, which would give students (and their parents) more choices in how they learn English and other languages.

 Sacramento Bee – Giving the public more power to peer into the murkiness of state politics is generally a good thing. And so we find it hard to object to Proposition 54, which would slow the last-minute surge of bills that get shoved through the Legislature every year, usually with nowhere near enough scrutiny; Hillary Clinton was cool and informed; Trump mansplained and bullied.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: Tough times for San Joaquin General Hospital trauma center, give peace a chance and other issues.