September 29, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Gov. Brown signs bills protecting seniors, trafficking victims – Gov. Brown signed a handful of bills this weekend designed to protect California seniors, crack down on human trafficking and prohibit the “gay panic” defense in homicide cases.   San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleSacramento Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Brown signs bill aimed at reducing sex assaults on college campuses – Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Sunday making California the first state in the nation to require its colleges and universities to adopt a standard of clear consent for students engaging in sexual activity, an effort to combat rape and sexual assault on campuses.  LA Times articleCapitol AlertSan Francisco Chronicle article

Valley politics

CD16: Johnny Tacherra latest in GOP to try to oust Jim Costa – Burrel dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra is the latest in a long line of Republicans trying to oust incumbent Fresno Democrat Jim Costa from Congress. Nothing illustrates his challenge better than the campaign contributions Costa has received from the Western United Dairymen, the Dairy Farmers of America and the California Dairies Federal political action committee.  Fresno Bee article

Differences emerging in Merced County sheriff’s race – Policy differences between the two candidates competing to be the next Merced County sheriff continue to emerge as the race enters its final month.  Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Prop 46: Family’s tragedy sparks clash of special-interest titans – What started as a Danville couple’s crusade for justice for their dead children has become a war between some of California’s most powerful special interests and the year’s costliest ballot measure battle.  Contra Costa Times article

Eric Grunder: In crucial times, one California is plenty – The former Opinion page editor of the Stockton Record writes, “Even though Timothy Draper was born, as Ted Rall wrote in the Los Angeles Times, ‘at mile 25 1/2 in the marathon of life,’ the Silicon Valley venture capitalist didn’t win this race. Good thing, too. Ask the people in Weed.”Grunder op-ed in Stockton Record

Other areas

Gov. Brown signs laws to crack down on human trafficking – With California ranked as one of the states with the worst problems of human trafficking, Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed a raft of seven bills aimed at improving prosecution of the crime, whose victims are often forced into prostitution, domestic servitude and sweatshop labor.LA Times articleCapitol Alert

Mayors gather in Sacramento for emotional discussion of race, policing – For two hours Sunday, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson led a gathering of mayors from across the nation in a spirited and at times emotional discussion about America’s racial divide and tensions over policing in minority communities.  Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters Daily: California Senate silent on nepotism investigation – Dan wonders why the state Senate won’t release its investigation into nepotism allegations.  Did Dina Hidalgo know too much?  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

As election nears, control of Senate looks surprisingly uncertain – Just over a month before the midterm election, control of the U.S. Senate remains surprisingly up for grabs as Democrats parlay a financial edge and other advantages to battle history and a strong anti-Obama tide.  LA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Devaluation of wind farms to hit government coffers – A sudden and dramatic drop in the value of Kern County’s massive wind energy farms will strip millions of dollars out of government coffers this fiscal year. The Kern County Assessor-Recorder’s office has warned county officials that they expect to drop wind energy property value by $777 million less than three months into the fiscal year.  Bakersfield Californian article

Dan Walters: New definition of recidivism minimizes political fallout from realignment – Brown and legislators directed the Board of State and Community Corrections to create a single legal definition of recidivism and its proposal, drafted after months of consultation and discussion, is also stirring controversy. A felon would be considered a recidivist only if convicted of a new felony or misdemeanor committed within three years of release from custody or of being placed under parole or probation supervision.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Jobs and the Economy

Jerry Brown signs subcontractor bill – In a major victory for California labor unions, Gov. Jerry Brown announced Sunday that he has signed legislation that will hold businesses liable when subcontractors violate wage, workplace safety or workers’ compensation rules.  Capitol Alert

Tejon Ranch targets commercial development for growth – Tejon Ranch has four business segments: commercial and industrial real estate development; resort development; mineral resources development; and farming and ranching. In all, the company owns 270,000 acres, bigger than the city of Los Angeles.  LA Times article

LA pays millions as police and firefighter injury claims rise – Total salaries paid to city public safety employees on leave increased more than 30% — to $42 million a year – from 2009 through 2013, the five-year period studied by The Times. The number who took leaves grew 8%, and they were out of work an average of nearly 9 weeks — a 23% increase compared with 2009.  LA Times article

Pension funds feel heat on climate change issue – Pension funds have used their investment clout for targeted social goals, notably divestments or stock boycotts of apartheid South Africa and tobacco. Curbing the use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels said to be disastrously warning the climate is a much larger global undertaking. Calpensions article

New food bank leader has strong, lifelong ties to Stockton – Mario Supnet has come home. He is the new executive director of the Emergency Food Bank and Family Services of Stockton/San Joaquin County, replacing interim administrator Wayne Hose. Supnet’s new office address is 7 W. Scotts Ave., just eight blocks north of Edison High School, where he graduated in 1985.  Stockton Record article


Jerry Brown vetoes farm labor bill – Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed legislation Sunday that would have changed procedures in farm labor disputes to make it harder for California farmers to stall new contracts.  Capitol Alert

Kern poised to freeze Ridgecrest-area ag development over water – County supervisors will consider freezing all agricultural development in the Indian Wells Valley around Ridgecrest while the extent of the desert basin’s water crisis is explored.  Bakersfield Californian article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Growing use of police body cameras raises privacy concerns – Scores of law enforcement agencies already use body-worn cameras, and calls for more have only grown across the U.S. after recent cases involving use of force have pitted the word of police officers against angry residents. But equipping police with such devices also raises new and unsettled issues over privacy at a time when many Americans have been critical of the kind of powerful government surveillance measures that technology has made possible.  LA Times article

Governor vetoes bill that would have limited police use of drones – Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed a bill that would have required law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants to use drones for surveillance. Brown, in his veto message, said that although there may be some circumstances when a warrant is appropriate, the bill went too far.  LA Times articleCapitol Alert

Tulare DA may apply for grant to fight human trafficking – During a special meeting Tuesday night in Dinuba, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors is expected to authorize the county District Attorney’s Office to apply for a grant to help human trafficking victims and to raise awareness of the crime.  Visalia Times-Delta article

To control gun violence, LA researchers seek deeper data – For the first time in nearly two decades, federal money is beginning to flow into gun violence research. And there’s growing momentum behind creating a reliable national reporting database for firearm injuries and deaths.  NPR report

Sex trade, part II: Lured into a world of lies – Hers is just one of countless stories in which susceptible persons are lured into involuntary servitude for the promise of riches, only to find the financial gain is seen only by the person who controls them. Human trafficking is among the fastest growing illicit activities in the nation, claiming victims that include children such as Emma.  Stockton Record article

Report details cause of motorcyclist’s death after pursuit – A California Highway Patrol report on a March 24 traffic collision that resulted in the death of a motorcyclist places the blame for the crash on the inability of the rider to control his bike while travelling at great speed.  Stockton Record article


New law limits student discipline measure – Fewer than 11,000 of California’s 6.2 million students will likely be affected each year by a new law that limits the use of “willful defiance” as a reason to expel or suspend students. But Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature on the bill signifies a growing commitment on the part of the state to find more positive approaches to disciplining students.  EdSource article

Merced County high schools see benefits of restorative justice discipline model – High school officials in Merced County are taking a new approach at improving discipline policies on campuses, and that approach is showing a significant improvement in student participation and wellness, according to a new report.  Merced Sun-Star article

Monday Q&A: Stanislaus County educator explains school spending priorities – Mary Stires started as a teacher, worked her way up to district office administrator, and now uses everything she learned along the way for her oversight role at the Stanislaus County Office of Education.  Modesto Bee article

Merced Adult School principal fears loss of funding next year – Debbie Glass, Merced Adult School’s principal, is fearful that next year she’ll have to find another way to fund her adult education program.Glass said Merced Adult School served 3,500 students in Merced, Atwater, Livingston and Los Banos last year. The program cost about $2.1 million, including $1.4 million in guaranteed funding from the state.  Merced Sun-Star article

Manteca Unified on curriculum’s cutting edge – Fast becoming one of the most tech-savvy districts in the state, Manteca Unified moved ahead this month on a plan to equip every one of its students in January with a tablet-style laptop as it moves into the second phase of its $30 million digital push.  Stockton Record article

According to officials, Stockton-area students well immunized – Stockton Unified School District, the largest district with 37,000 students, reports fewer than 150 parents this year requested a “personal belief exemption,” which allows them to enroll children who are not current on the 15 vaccines required by the State of California. Lodi Unified School District, with 30,000 students, had only 70 parents who sought the waiver.  Stockton Record article

Schools challenged by unfunded mandate to support homeless students – Nearly 300,000 children in California—more than in any other state— are homeless, or live in cars, garages or crammed into single rooms with their entire families. More than half of those children are younger than 10 years old.  HealthyCal article

Bike path to connect Modesto Junior College campuses – Transportation leaders have agreed to spend about $700,000 on a dedicated, 2.3-mile bike and pedestrian path linking the two campuses, with work starting in spring or summer.  Modesto Bee article

Modesto schools board to get lesson on minority leadership – The Modesto City Schools board will hear a presentation on minority leadership, weigh administrative additions and hear public comment on a proposed charter school at its meeting tonight.  Modesto Bee article

Veteran Merced school district trustee Sam Spangler resigning – Sam Spangler of Winton, a Merced Union High School District trustee since January 2008, is resigning from the board.  Merced Sun-Star article

Former foster children fight for lifeline at City College of San Francisco – Guardian Scholars is supposed to serve as a supportive family for college students who never had one of their own. Across the country, foster children wind up in prison more often than in college classrooms, research shows. The program aims to change that with academic counseling, vouchers for books and transportation, access to an emergency housing fund, and a coordinator who not only woos donors but lends a helpful ear to students in need. Similar programs exist on campuses across the state.  San Francisco Chronicle article


PUC commissioner Michael Picker is determined to push safety agenda – A new face showed up early this year on the steps of the California Public Utilities Commission in San Francisco, where officials regulate the state’s corporate electric and gas utilities and other services.  LA Times article

Health/Human Services

300 in Merced take advantage of Homeless Connect’s services – More than 300 homeless people in Merced County made their way to Friday’s Homeless Connect, a one-stop multi-services event. Those in attendance included people currently living on the streets, couch-surfing or living in shelters, all in need of basic services, organizers said. Merced Sun-Star article

How big data is changing medicine – Here’s how science usually works: Come up with a question or a hypothesis. Develop an experiment to test it and create data. As any middle school student could tell you, it’s called the scientific method. Now, some researchers and entrepreneurs in the Bay Area say that method is being upended, especially when it comes to medicine.  KQED report

Fresno heart attack patient to reunite with rescuers – Fresno resident Fred Kennedy and his wife were running an errand the morning of Aug. 18 when Kennedy let out an “oh” and slumped toward his wife in the passenger seat, a major heart attack ripping through his chest.  Fresno Bee article

Other Areas

Doug Greener: Let’s prepare before a disaster strikes – The chief of the Bakersfield Fire Department writes, “On behalf of the men and women of the Bakersfield Fire Department, I suggest we use Disaster Preparedness Month and the Great Shake-out Drill scheduled for next month to kick-start our personal planning processes. And let’s all help jointly protect our community by being individually resilient in the face of disaster.” Greener op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The California State Senate should release report on nepotism.

Merced Sun-Star – We must act now to stop Ebola spread.

Modesto Bee – We must act now to stop Ebola spread.

Sacramento Bee – Art Moore is fit to replace Tom McClintock in Congress; John Garamendi deserves another two years in Congress.