September 28, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

John Myers: Changes coming to California’s initiative process under new law – Public opinion polls have time and again made two things clear about California’s 113- year-old system of allowing citizens to write laws themselves: voters like the system but they also wish it would work better. On Saturday, Gov. Jerry Brown agreed to a plan on which many reform groups have pinned their hopes for change.  Myers in KQEDSacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Gov. Brown signs bills aiding immigrant children, troubled students –California Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed legislation to provide $3 million in legal aid for the thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America who have flooded into the U.S. illegally this year. The Democratic governor also approved a new law to limit suspensions and expulsions of students who “willfully defy” teachers and administrators, and he vetoed $100 million that lawmakers had set aside for deferred maintenance at University of California and California State University campuses.  LA Times article

Valley politics

CD10: Democrats see potential to flip Jeff Denham’s seat – The race for California’s 10th Congressional District seat is drawing national interest, with Democrats seeing the seat held for two terms by Republican Jeff Denham as vulnerable. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ranks the race of challenger Michael Eggman third on its Red to Blue list of highly competitive races. Eggman’s own polling shows Denham’s lead shrinking from 26 percentage points to 8.  Modesto Bee article

Modesto Bee: With a Valley-can attitude, send Rep. Jeff Denham back to Congress – A challenger with stronger backing and a better grasp of the issues might not cause us to change our mind about endorsing Denham, but it could push him to become more of a Valley-can rather than merely a Republican from the Valley.  Modesto Bee editorial

Kern assessor candidates get back to bashing each other – The Assessor-Recorder’s race has been very quiet since John Lifquist topped Johnson in a three-person primary. But any thought that things would stay quiet ended this week. A week’s worth of Facebook posts swung hard at Russell Johnson, who has no professional experience as a property appraiser but paints himself as a leader who can pull an archaic county agency into the modern world.  Bakersfield Californian article

Mike Klocke: Intrigue in race for San Joaquin County superintendent –One of the intriguing local races for the Nov. 4 general election is for San Joaquin County Superintendent of Schools. Longtime educators and education administrators James Mousalimas and Jeff Tilton advanced from the primary and are running to replace Mick Founts.  Klocke column in Stockton Record

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Dan Walters: GOP on declining path as voter ranks shrink – Recently released voter registration figures show that a years-long trend in the makeup of California’s electorate – one that already has fundamentally altered the state’s political dynamics – is continuing. Republicans, who dominated California during most of the 20th century, are continuing to lose ground among voters or, as former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger once told fellow Republicans at a state convention, they are “dying at the box office.”  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Bakersfield Californian: Swearengin is right pick for controller – While the governor and Legislature set the budget, it is up to the controller to sound the alarm when a spending plan goes off track. Californians need a controller who is not afraid to sound that alarm, regardless of party affiliation or ideology. Californians should vote for Ashley Swearengin for controller.  Bakersfield California editorial

Sacramento Bee: Prop 47 goes too far, too soon after other major criminal justice changes – We don’t doubt that some people in prison could live peaceably on the outside, and that some sentences are too long. The Bee’s editorial board long has urged a thoughtful review of sentences. But that work ought to be done by a sentencing commission established by the governor and legislators. With few exceptions, the blunt instrument that is the initiative process should not be used to alter the criminal justice system.  Sacramento Bee editorial


Fresno Unified gets $250,000 grant to improve citizenship applications –The Fresno Unified School District has received a $250,000 grant to help permanent residents prepare and apply for U.S. citizenship through the Fresno Adult School.  Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Gov. Brown vetoes extra $100 million for UC, CSU – Citing property tax revenues below budget estimates, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed part of a budget bill Saturday that would have awarded an additional $50 million each to the University of California and California State University systems for deferred maintenance the systems deem critical.  Capitol Alert

Jerry Brown signs bill to ban school suspensions for ‘willful defiance’ –Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation limiting school administrators’ use of an offense called “willful defiance” to suspend students in California schools, Brown’s office said Saturday.  Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown signs bills to help veterans, create OC cemetery – Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday signed 21 bills to help and recognize military veterans, including a measure to help create the first veterans’ cemetery in Orange County. Other bills signed protect veterans’ rights to healthcare, education and shelter. LA Times article

Kevin Johnson stakes legacy on boosting mayor’s clout – Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is not running for office in November, but the election’s outcome will likely decide his future at City Hall. Political consultants and those close to the mayor said Johnson’s decision to run for a third term in 2016 will hinge on whether voters pass Measure L, the ballot initiative to increase the powers of the mayor’s office. Johnson’s political legacy is also at stake as he pushes for the most significant change to city government in a generation. Sacramento Bee article

Race for the House:  Tom McClintock on his upcoming contest – Rep. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove has been in his share of elections. But this fall, there’s a twist, as he fields a challenge from fellow Republican Art Moore, an Army veteran. The Bee caught up with the conservative stalwart this week at his campaign office in Roseville.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Morain: Lurid tale of drugs, guns, death and nepotism further stains Senate – Lynn Rasberry sat in the back row of a Sacramento courtroom listening to a lurid tale of alcohol, cocaine, guns, death and nepotism in the California state Senate, and found a measure of vindication.  Morain in Sacramento Bee

News Briefs

Top Stories

High-speed rail faces tough climb over Tehachapis – No one said it would be easy building high-speed rail over the Tehachapi Mountains. But who knew it would be this hard? Newly released documents show engineers trying to find the most efficient bullet-train route from Bakersfield to Palmdale have encountered unexpected difficulties, including steep grades and a previously undisclosed wetlands protection requirement costing as much as $1 billion.  Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton’s day in court looms – By the time federal Judge Christopher Klein takes his seat Wednesday morning and gavels court into session in Sacramento, it will have been 827 days since Stockton took the plunge into bankruptcy. Klein is expected to rule Wednesday on Stockton’s bankruptcy exit plan, called a plan of adjustment, ending a trial that began more than four months ago and has been interrupted several times by lengthy adjournments.  Stockton Record article

Watchdog Report: Fresno County debates development impact fees – A fee for new Fresno County development could have generated millions of dollars to pay for government offices, parks, library space and other programs, but the money hasn’t been banked in four years. County supervisors voted last month to continue the fee deferral until 2016 and are considering whether to repeal it altogether.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Michael Fitzgerald: For better or worse, Stockton stands to make history – Stockton’s bankruptcy isn’t just about the low greed we’ve seen, but high principles. And national precedents. For what it’s worth, I believe the judge will not have major issues with Stockton’s Plan. I do not believe he will rule that Stockton must cut pensions. Because any other ruling is too dire. But nobody knows what he’ll do. Just that it could be historic.  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

English proficiency low in San Joaquin County – Four Valley metropolitan areas, including San Joaquin County, rank among the top nine in the U.S. for the number of working-age residents who lack proficiency in English, according to a Brookings Institution report released Wednesday.  Stockton Record article

Game of drones – In the game of drones, Amazon, Facebook and Google all want a piece of the sky. Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, have existed for decades, although mainly associated with military organizations as weapons of war or spying. But over the past two years, the technologies now commonly found in smartphones — accelerometers, sensors and high-definition cameras — have accelerated development of a new breed of commercial drones used in real estate, agriculture and movies.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Leadership exodus viewed as ‘cyclical’ – By the end of the year, San Joaquin County government will see the departure of top managers leading the bulk of the county’s operations, including the directors of health, human services and public works. Added to other retirements from key positions over the past year, most county departments will see leadership changes, soon, if they haven’t already. Officials said it is a long-awaited shift that has been expected as county leadership reached retirement age.  Stockton Record article

After 30 years, Oakhurst-based Pizza Factory keeps growing, evolving –Pizza Factory has a new CEO and big plans for growth, but one thing remains the same: It still calls Oakhurst home. The company with 110 restaurants in five states has been based in the mountain community for nearly 30 years, even if many people down the hill didn’t realize it.  Fresno Bee article

For Google shuttle drivers, it’s a grueling ride – If Silicon Valley shuttle buses are the physical symbols of San Francisco’s tech boom-fueled friction, then drivers like Barlow find themselves in an odd place: Bus drivers have benefited from the boom, but many feel exploited by those who have profited the most from it.  San Francisco Chronicle article

John King: These development measures are really antigrowth – It’s election time in the Bay Area, which means ballot initiatives designed to undercut development plans are already in the works. But there’s another way to look at this year’s crop: as confirmation of an ongoing cultural shift in favor of tall buildings and mixed-use neighborhoods with access to transit outside the region’s largest cities.  King in San Francisco Chronicle


California harvest much smaller than normal across crops – It’s harvest time in much of California, and the signs of drought are almost as abundant as the fruits and nuts and vegetables. One commodity after another is feeling the impact of the state’s epic water shortage.  Sacramento Bee article

Almond boom has downside in fewer farm jobs, less crop diversity – The remarkable expansion of almond orchards in Stanislaus County has been an economic boom for growers, but it’s come at a price: fewer farm jobs and less crop diversity.  Modesto Bee article

Oakdale almond grower shares its vision – Trinitas’ principal owners say their company’s local reputation has been unjustly tarnished, and they want to correct the public’s misperceptions. They recently visited with The Modesto Bee’s editorial board and allowed a reporter and photographer to tour their orchards, watch their harvest and interview their workers.  Modesto Bee article

Fresno City Hall sees recharge basins are part of water solution –Recharge basins figure to have a starring role as Fresno City Hall begins its series of water forums titled Recharge Fresno. Ba-dum-chhhh! Joking aside, those big holes with sandy bottoms may turn out to be one of the city’s best arguments as it tries to convince Fresnans to foot a large bill for a revamped water system. They’re key to replenishing the city’s invaluable but over-burdened aquifer. They could be part of the answer to Fresno’s chronic shortage of green space.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno Fair changes livestock rules for drought – Fresno Fair deputy manager Lauri King said this will be the first year in which students from local 4-H and FFA clubs will only be allowed to fully wash each animal once per show session, which lasts either five or six days.  Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Hanford Police Department issues on-officer cameras – Starting Monday, Hanford police officers will be wearing cameras so that they can videotape traffic stops, arrests, pursuits and other calls.  Hanford Sentinel article

Former inmates celebrate success, thank Casa Aurora for second chance – The women at Casa Aurora might be finishing their sentences in the comfort of an actual home — sleeping in beds with colorful linens, in rooms without bars, and ditching prison jumpsuits for real clothes — but their lives inside are far from easy.  Bakersfield Californian article

LA wants courts to revive law allowing motel guest registry searches –Los Angeles city attorneys are asking the Supreme Court to revive a local ordinance that gave police the authority to inspect guest-registration records of motels and hotels, arguing the surprise checks are needed to deter prostitutes and drug dealers and sometimes catch fugitives.  LA Times article

A victim’s story: Sex trade made mom feel ‘like a used piece of tissue’ –Sharon found herself in a dark place after a being abandoned by her husband — homeless, unemployed, worried how she would provide for her two young children.  Stockton Record article


Another drought casualty: No chance to meet key air standard –California’s freakishly dry 2013-14 winter dealt the San Joaquin Valley more than a crippling blow to the farm economy. It set the stage for a lung-scarring siege of soot that squashed any hope of making a key federal air standard.  Fresno Bee article

California earthquake swarm continues, but slows – The earthquake swarm in Mammoth Lakes continued into Saturday, but it showed signs of slowing. More than 700 small quakes have been recorded in the Mammoth area since Thursday, but the last one of 3.0 magnitude or greater occurred Friday afternoon. And the frequency of the quakes has declined significantly.  LA Times article

Jeff Jardine: Facing heavy criticism, Forest Service revises plan to charge for media access – It’s a shame Ansel Adams isn’t alive to be the test case. If the famed photographer of all that is Yosemite and the High Sierra wanted to photograph a national forest wilderness – say, for instance, the Ansel Adams Wilderness – would he need to pay the U.S. Forest Service for a permit to do so? Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Health/Human Services

Obamacare doctor networks to stay limited in 2015 – Finding a doctor who takes Obamacare coverage could be just as frustrating for Californians in 2015 as the health-law expansion enters its second year.  LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno County general plan review stirs controversy – Proposed changes to Fresno County’s general plan policies would add new concepts, such as plans for promoting healthy communities, and revise older proposals designed to generate traveler-oriented development along Interstate 5. Environmental advocates oppose many aspects of the review, which they say could trigger legal action depending on the board’s course.  Fresno Bee article


Caltrans orders Bay Bridge anchor rods checked for rust – Caltrans engineers have ordered that all of the 424 steel anchor rods at the base of new Bay Bridge eastern span’s tower be inspected after crews found more than three dozen of them had been sitting in pools of potentially corrosive water, agency officials say.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other Areas

Fresno Bee: Medical marijuana ban needs a fix – There is only one direction that the Fresno County Board of Supervisors should go with its draconian medical marijuana ordinance: back to the drawing board.  Fresno Bee editorial

Meet Derek Franks, the man trying to save the Fresno Grizzlies – Derek Franks attended his first Fresno Grizzlies game in 1998. Dad took him. It was the inaugural season, and they sat in newly installed bleachers along the right-field line at Beiden Field. The 13-year-old from Kingsburg was “instantly hooked.” Fresno Bee article

Love Stockton: Volunteers’ actions send a message – Thousands of volunteers from dozens of Stockton churches fanned out across the city Saturday to lead improvement projects throughout the community as part of Love Stockton, an annual event designed to clean up neighborhoods, parks, playgrounds and schools. Stockton Record article

Donald Blount: Something stinks in downtown Stockton – The stench was overwhelming and akin to walking into the worst-smelling public restroom ever. Reminiscent of a trip that took me through the Oakland Greyhound bus station in the past year, actually. Except I was not in a restroom. I was outdoors at East Main and South San Joaquin streets in downtown Stockton, near the county courthouse. And as I turned onto Weber Street and headed toward El Dorado Street, the rancid smell grew stronger.  Blount column in Stockton Record

Fresno nonprofit rallies to help small African country with Fresno State link – A small country in West Africa now governed by a Fresno State graduate will get some help from Fresno next month. Fresno-based nonprofit West African Vocational Schools will hold a fundraiser Oct. 10 at a Fresno winery to help Guinea-Bissau. The country is led by Prime Minister Domingos Simões Pereira, who graduated from Fresno State in 1994.  Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  While the governor and Legislature set the budget, it is up to the controller to sound the alarm when a spending plan goes off track. Californians need a controller who is not afraid to sound that alarm, regardless of party affiliation or ideology. Californians should vote for Ashley Swearengin for controller.

Fresno Bee – There is only one direction that the Fresno County Board of Supervisors should go with its draconian medical marijuana ordinance: back to the drawing board.

Modesto Bee – With a Valley-can attitude, send Rep. Jeff Denham back to Congress; Gov. Brown’s speech to the United Nations laid out a climate plan.

Sacramento Bee – Prop 47 goes too far, too soon after other major criminal justice changes; Gov. Brown’s U.N. speech on climate change rallied Californians, too.