September 29, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories 

McCarthy announces run for House speaker — Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy announced Monday he’s running for House speaker, a job that would make him one of the most powerful men in the United States. In a statement and in an interview, McCarthy vowed to heal the considerable divisions in the House GOP caucus and work to make the American people feel more connected to their government. Bakersfield Californian articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleAP articleNPR reportNew York Times article

Leadership honeymoon could be brief for a Speaker McCarthy — House Speaker-in-waiting Kevin McCarthy of California announced Monday he’s ready to seize the summit of Capitol Hill. His next climb would be even steeper – governing. McClatchy Newspapers article


Gov. Brown

 Gov. Brown vetoes off-hours use of LA County carpool lanes – Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a measure Monday that would have allowed, during off-peak hours, all motorists to use carpool lanes on the 134 Freeway from North Hollywood to Pasadena, and on the 210 Freeway from Pasadena to Glendora. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article


Valley politics

‘It’s probably his to lose’ – Political expert weighs the future of Rep. McCarthy – Fresno State political scientist Thomas Holyoke says the political future of Bakersfield Representative Kevin McCarthy looks bright. McCarthy, Holyoke says, is the odds on favorite to be the next Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a powerful position that could mean big things for representative and the valley. Holyoke takes on some of the bigger questions facing McCarthy. KVPR report 

Local congressmen react to Boehner resignation — On Friday, House Speaker John Boehner made a surprise announcement that he was stepping down from the top post and resigning from Congress at the end of October. On Monday, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield announced he would seek to succeed Boehner. Here are reactions from central San Joaquin Valley legislators on Boehner, and McCarthy’s email to colleagues on seeking the speaker position.  Fresno Bee article

CD 10: Michael Eggman: Denham still part of the problem in D.C. – The candidate for the 10th Congressional District seat writes, “Jeff Denham was part of the problem in 2013 and he still is today. I’m running for Congress in 2016 because it’s high time we end Denham’s cycle of manufactured crises, gridlock and lack of leadership. Central Valley families deserve a representative in Congress who will make the government work for us, not shut down on us.” Eggman op-ed in Modesto Bee


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Foes of California vaccine law file petitions for referendum — Opponents of California’s tough new vaccine law filed petitions Monday seeking to put a referendum on the issue on the November 2016 ballot, but it may be a month before elections officials determine whether the ballot measure qualifies. LA Times article



LA, others let immigration agents in jails, rules vary — After a backlash to immigration enforcement in U.S. jails, local sheriffs’ agencies are coming up with new ways to assist federal efforts to ensure immigrants with serious criminal convictions aren’t released back onto the streets. AP article

Mexican indigenous immigrants’ dire need for medical interpreters — Interpreters are “absolutely necessary,” said Alicia Fernandez, a medical interpretation expert at UC San Francisco, because quality health care and basic informed consent are nearly impossible without one. KQED report

Among immigrant families, the ‘American Dream’ fuels a generational divide — The debate in the Estrada home showcases a generational divide in many Latino homes in California and elsewhere — driven by a national debate over immigration and a steady move in California toward easing restrictions on people in the country illegally. LA Times article


Other areas

Dan Walters: Sunshine disinfects California’s campaigns – This month, the FPPC moved regulations that would require nonprofits to disclose original donors if they contribute to California political campaigns. Hyde Wagner, the FPPC’s general counsel, told the commission’s members in a report the new rule “clarifies that so-called ‘dark money,’ originating from nonprofit or other organizations whose donors are not disclosed is not permitted in California elections.” Walters column in Sacramento Bee 

Cristobal Alex: Bill is a way to boost Latino political power – The president of Latino Victory Project writes, “Secretary of State Alex Padilla deserves applause for his sponsorship of a bill that modernizes California’s voter registration system and makes it easier to participate in the democratic process.” Alex op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

California lawmakers put focus on climate change – The Legislature may have scuttled the centerpiece of Gov. Jerry Brown’s climate change plans, but it still approved ambitious new environmental policies that will impact the economy and lives of Californians. CALmatters article

Joel Fox: The Justice Kennedy – (Speaker?) McCarthy connection – The unexpected vote by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Arizona redistricting case earlier this year may mean a much longer stint as Speaker of the House for Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy–should he get the job. Fox in Fox & Hounds

McCarthy calls for beefed-up U.S. response against IS, Russia — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, the front-runner to replace House Speaker John Boehner, denounced President Barack Obama’s foreign policy on Monday, saying the U.S. has “lost the respect of allies and adversaries alike.” AP article

Jim Cooper: Law enforcement’s man at the Capitol — When fellow Legislative Black Caucus members sought this year to pass bills responding to a year of police killings, Cooper aligned himself with law enforcement at every turn. As the Black Lives Matter movement intensified, he opposed measures to establish rules for police-worn body cameras, change how California prosecutes police shootings and collect data on racial profiling. Sacramento Bee article


News Stories

Top Stories

Prison reforms have not yielded savings or spike in crime — Landmark changes in California’s criminal justice system four years ago have not saved the state money or reduced the rate of convicts who are quickly back behind bars as proponents had promised, but the changes also did not produce a feared spike in violent crime, an independent research organization said Monday. AP articleSacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article 

Fresno City Hall gets ready for surge in code appeals — Fresno is reforming the way code enforcement appeals are handled, another sign of City Hall’s commitment to stable neighborhoods. Code enforcement deals with quality-of-life issues like improper security measures at vacant houses and unsightly trash or rusting cars in front yards. Violations result in citations. People may appeal. Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

With new gates, fees, Bakersfield parking structure cashes in on debut – Nearly three weeks after workers upgraded the automatic gates and installed payment machines at Bakersfield’s downtown parking structure, a Finance Department official said Monday the 28-year-old structure is likely back on track to pay for itself. In a 10-day period that began Sept. 8, the city-owned garage collected $1,172, following a $136,951 upgrade that included new parking gates and payment machines. Bakersfield Californian article 

Modesto finds itself in the rough with golf courses – About four dozen golfers and other audience members packed Monday’s City Council Finance Committee meeting about the future of the city’s three golf courses. The city is having these discussions because of declining interest in golf, the toll the drought has taken on the courses and the toll the courses have taken on the city’s general fund budget, which primarily pays for public safety. Modesto Bee article 

McDonald’s move to cage-free eggs is a tipping point for the industry – Will the next egg you crack come from a chicken raised in a roomier barn? Foodies and farmers are in unusual agreement on the answer: If not now, then soon enough. Both say McDonald’s recent decision to transition to “cage free” eggs for its McMuffins and other menu items was a tipping point in the $9-billion egg industry, which still produces 96% of its eggs in barns full of stacked wire cages. LA Times article

Whole Foods to cut about 1,500 jobs over next eight weeks — Grocery chain Whole Foods is cutting about 1,500 jobs over the next eight weeks as it looks to lower prices and keep up with competition. The cuts represent about 1.6 percent of its workforce. AP article

Gas prices remain low as cooler weather approaches Merced — Motorists in Merced are paying less at the pump than in other parts of the state, though California has some of the highest gas prices in the country, according to the latest AAA Fuel Gauge ReportMerced Sun-Star article



Joe Mathews: Why so little on water? — California is begging for more action, and imaginative investment in water. Meanwhile the legislature took action at the end of its session on water, by passing… a call for Gov. Brown to call a special legislative session on the subject.  Mathews in Fox & Hounds

Farm worker pesticide rules tightened — The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday established the first minimum-age requirement — 18 — for farm workers applying pesticides to fields. The change is part of a revision of pesticide rules by the agency, which acknowledged that previous regulation was not enough to prevent an estimated $10 million to $15 million in annual health costs due to chemical exposure among the nation’s 2 million agricultural workers. LA Times articleAP articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Will the ‘yuck’ factor sink California water recycling? – Prune-dry California may soon be going down the toilet — for its drinking water. The prospect of sewer water being treated and redirected back into faucets is the future of California if the water crisis continues, according to water managers throughout the state. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Grape growers treat, reuse wastewater on vineyards — Vineyards don’t just use water to grow the grapes. They also need water to wash bottles, clean floors and wash barrels.  And some California grape growers are using that wastewater to irrigate vineyards. A new study says other agricultural producers could do the same. Capital Public Radio report

Tiny mountain community finally gives up its old-school water district — In the mountains north of Santa Cruz, water is managed, as they say, “the old-school” way. Bills are written out every two months and volunteers stuff envelopes at mailing parties. Chlorine levels are checked by hand and well pressure is calculated by a 21-year-old who got the job responding to a newspaper ad. LA Times article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

San Joaquin County making progress with correctional system realignment – Here in San Joaquin County, the 1,411-inmate capacity jail housed 1,082 at the end of September 2011. As of Monday morning, there were 1,226 inmates. According to the county’s own AB109 evaluation report prepared this year, 911 inmates were released during the first year of realignments and 539 were released in the second year. Another 616 inmates were released during the third year of realignment, according to the county report. Stockton Record article 

Modesto sees mixed crime numbers for 2014 – The FBI reported violent crime – including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault – increased 4.3 percent, with 1,778 offenses committed in 2014 compared with 1,704 in 2013. But Modesto saw its property crimes plummet 8.8 percent, with 9,113 offenses in 2014 compared with 9,989 in 2013. Property crimes include burglaries, thefts and auto thefts. Modesto Bee article 

Bakersfield forensic scientist and ‘CSI’ consultant reflects on end of series — Kern County criminologist Greg Laskowski watched Sunday’s two-hour “CSI” finale with mixed emotion. He was sad to see the show end its remarkable 15-year run, but he was grateful for what it had done for him, personally, and for the field of forensic science. Bakersfield Californian article 

Sandy Banks: Prop 47 promises a new start for ex-offenders carrying years-old burden — Proposition 47 has been blamed for a lot since it passed last fall: a rise in crime, a surge in homelessness, throngs of emboldened drug users and thieves who aren’t worried anymore about going to jail.But on Sunday, at an event that drew more than 4,000 people to Exposition Park, I saw what the new law ought to get credit for: allowing law-abiding folks to clean up ancient criminal records that can keep them on society’s margins, blocked from good jobs, locked out of decent housing and barred from student loans. Banks in LA Times 

Ex-inmates want LA County to stop dumping mentally ill inmates on skid row – A group of former Los Angeles County jail inmates said Monday that a recent legal settlement between the Sheriff’s Department and federal authorities will perpetuate the cycle of people with untreated mental illness bouncing back and forth between jail and skid row. LA Times article

Fresno State junior arrested in murder of UCLA student – A Fresno State student is among two men suspected of killing UCLA student Andrea DelVesco, Los Angeles Police Department said Monday.  Fresno Bee articleBakersfield Californian articleLA Times article

Firefighting inmates in California fill a void, gain a lot — There are 196 inmate fire crews that perform more than 3 million hours of emergency response work annually, making the program an essential tool in the state’s firefighting system, according to Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. Inmate firefighters make up about one-third of the Cal Fire crews responding to wildfires throughout the state. San Jose Mercury News article



Cal State athletic programs meeting competition, budget challenges — For Cal State athletics programs, budgets are slowly climbing — Cal State Los Angeles’ is up 20 percent from five years ago — but finances are far from that simple. The cost of the ever-elusive competitive edge may be rising at a quicker, breakneck rate. Inland Valley Daily Bulletin article 

Colleges to offer new joint application website – Starting next year, high school students will have a new online alternative to the much-used and sometimes criticized Common Application if they seek admission to a group of colleges with high graduation rates and healthy financial aid, officials announced Monday. LA Times article 

See which parts of California have the most high school overachievers – Students in the Bay Area, particularly Silicon Valley, are most likely to nail AP exams. Los Angeles and San Diego also have a disproportionate share of perfect AP scores. In the Sacramento region, students in suburban counties tend to do best. These graphics show the proportion of high schoolers scoring a perfect 5 on AP exams.  Sacramento Bee article

Carmen George: Project helps teach ethnic and religious diversity in California — Diversity isn’t an abstract subject for two Fresno State research assistants behind theCalifornia Pluralism Project, a new online educational resource about the state’s many ethnicities and religions.  George in Fresno Bee

Nationwide initiative focuses on youth mental health in schools — Mental illness has been a taboo subject in the room for many years, but now it’s time to break the ice and get the discussion started. That’s where the Youth Mental Health First Aid in Kern County comes in. “The goal is to saturate Kern County with training,” said Tatia Hunter-Jennings, prevention counselor for Kern County Superintendent of Schools. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton Unified strip search case heads toward resolution – A case involving a former Stockton Unified police officer accused of illegally strip searching a high school student may be resolved next week with a plea agreement. Stockton Record article

College of the Sequoias Hall of Fame welcomes eight more members — Former California Assemblywoman Connie Conway, a basketball coach who led two teams simultaneously, a man active in Hanford and members of the high school cross country team recently featured in a Disney movie will be inducted into the College of the Sequoias Hall of Fame next month, adding to the more than 150 inductees who have already received the honor. Visalia Times-Delta article

District has big plans for STEM school — An old, hollowed-out church that had lain dormant for years is now an energetic hub of education. The Lincoln Unified School District on Monday dedicated the newly opened John McCandless STEM Charter School in the 1700 block of Porter Way in north Stockton. Stockton Record article 

Former Assemblyman Roger Dickinson to lecture at Sac State — Students learning about politics in California’s capital city will soon hear from a man with some firsthand experience: former Assemblyman Roger Dickinson. Sacramento Bee article

Earth Log: Yosemite is third-oldest national park, but park system was born there — Yosemite on Thursday is celebrating its 125th anniversary a week later than Sequoia and 18 years behind Yellowstone. And Yosemite was actually tied for third on Oct. 1, 1890 when it was officially established. But Yosemite lovers tend to see their park as No. 1, mostly because the idea of national parks was born years before Yellowstone and Sequoia. Fresno Bee article 

Valley Fire creates time of need — Four Visalia residents lent a helping hand to victims of the Valley Fire in northern California. The devastation of the fire hit close to home for Mike Kusserow who used to live near Cobb Mountain — an area that was smack dab the center of the blaze. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Southland faces fire season as Santa Ana winds draw near – With thousands of homes burned and at least a half-dozen people dead, 2015 is already shaping up to be one of California’s most challenging fire seasons. But so far, much of the action has been in Northern California, where several destructive fires have marched through large swaths of drought-parched lands. Now, the fire season moves to Southern California, which tends to have its biggest fires in the fall as Santa Ana winds kick up. LA Times article

‘Killer bees’ found in Bay Area for the first time — An Africanized breed of honeybees — sometimes known as “killer bees” because of their swarming, aggressive and deadly nature when a colony is threatened — has found its way to the Bay Area for the first time, researchers say. San Francisco Chronicle article


Health/Human Services 

Jesse is a typical boy in probation-run foster care: Unwanted — Not too long ago, Jesse had dared to dream that he would be one of the lucky ones — not like most of the other kids in the probation-run foster care system. For some of the most troubled young wards of the state, the chance of being adopted, or even placed in a foster home, once they’ve broken the law is near zero. Jesse’s chances looked even smaller. LA Times article

Daniel Weintraub: Clinic will bring health care closer to poor patients – Residents of poor, inner-city neighborhoods have a notoriously difficult time getting health care. Gloria McNeal has a simple solution to that problem: Bring health care to them. McNeal, dean of National University’s School of Public Health and Human Services, is director of a new, nurse-managed health clinic the university is setting up in the Watts community of South Central Los Angeles. If it works, the project could be a model for the rest of California, if not the nation. Weintraub in Sacramento Bee

Gene test finds which breast cancer patients can skip chemo — Many women with early-stage breast cancer can skip chemotherapy without hurting their odds of beating the disease – good news from a major study that shows the value of a gene-activity test to gauge each patient’s risk. AP article


Land Use/Housing

Sacramento to renovate oldest public housing complex near railyard — The federal government has awarded Sacramento housing officials $30 million to jump start the renovation of the county’s oldest public housing complex. Sacramento Bee article

Davis mulls temporary ban on new nightspots after fatal brawl — Davis leaders on Tuesday will consider a 45-day moratorium on building or expanding bars, restaurants or nightclubs in the city after a fatal stabbing little more than a week ago at a popular nightspot. Sacramento Bee article


Other areas

Animal advocates slam fed report giving wildlife shooters a clean bill — A recent report gave the federal program that helps control predatory wildlife around the county a generally clean bill of health, finding “no systemic problems” with vital parts of its operation – a finding that animal rights groups found preposterous. AP article 

Wheels of justice slow at overloaded federal courts – Across the country, federal district courts have seen a rise in recent years in the time it takes to get civil cases to trial and resolve felony criminal cases as judges’ workloads have increased, according to statistics from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. AP article

Turlock’s new firetruck will have bells and whistles – not just a siren — The Turlock Fire Department has ordered its first new engine in ages, a rig designed from the bottom up to reduce the risks and speed the response of today’s firefighters. Modesto Bee article

Claim for damages in Atwater case could double – The stakes are about to go up for the city of Atwater, which is looking at a second lawsuit from a twice-fired former code enforcement officer. Merced Sun-Star article

Tom Fife: Wondering if anyone actually listened to Pope Francis — Welcome to our bi-monthly episode of “As the World Burns”… Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

Joe Altschule: About Pope’s peaceful principles – and pushing peanuts — There’s been much to think about and discuss this week and all of it is pretty important. Let’s look at three of them. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Beware of health insurance mega-mergers.

Sacramento Bee – If Americans really want to go where no human has gone before, we must do better. Now is the time to capitalize on the country’s collective wonder about the cosmos; Union Pacific made the right move, figuring out how to keep the California International Marathon on track and to promote rail safety at the same time.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: Fight off potential southern water grabbers, the potential of the Greyhound bus station in downtown Stockton, and other issues.