September 3, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

CD21: Congressional groups wage proxy battle on TV ads – The campaign rhetoric is ramping up as fast as an August Valley day in the 21st Congressional District race between incumbent Hanford Republican David Valadao and his challenger, Sanger Democrat Amanda Renteria. It’s actually a bit of a proxy battle between the National Republican Congressional Committee and the rival Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.  Fresno Bee article

Low turnout in California in November could lift prospects for GOP – Although all signs point to an easy reelection for Gov. Jerry Brown in November and million-vote victories for some of the party’s other statewide candidates, the lack of serious competition at the top of the ticket portends low turnout at the polls.  LA Times article

Valley politics

CD21: ‘First Look’: Democrat Renteria gives her take on water bond, talks about campaign – Amanda Renteria said she has been busy forming relationships and having conversations with residents in the valley during her campaign for the 21st Congressional District seat. Tuesday on “First Look with Scott Cox,” the Democrat talked about water, jobs and education — issues she said are priorities for San Joaquin Valley residents.  Bakersfield Californian article

CD21: Renteria, Valadao now fighting over robocalls – On Friday, the Renteria campaign fired off robocalls urging voters to call Valadao’s office to condemn a tracker hired by Republican-funded America Rising. That tracker followed Renteria into a church in Mendota and filmed her as she prayed, she said. The Valadao camp had said previously it didn’t hire the tracker and doesn’t condone filming anyone praying. Then on Tuesday the Renteria campaign complained to Attorney General Kamala Harris that Valadao’s office is illegally recording telephone calls.  Bakersfield Californian article

No summer break for some Valley political candidates – Many central San Joaquin Valley candidates say they never stopped campaigning after advancing in the June primary. They walked precincts and did other campaign-related events such as coffee klatches in addition to raising money and seeking endorsements.  Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Mark Baldassare, Dean Bonner and Jui Shresha: Elections coming: California voter and party profiles – The Public Policy Institute of California officials write, “Voter registration is up since the last gubernatorial primary; major party registration is down. California’s 17.7 million voters constitute 73.3% of eligible adults, up slightly from 72.4% in 2010, the last gubernatorial primary year. The share of Democrats is 43.4%, down from 44.5% in 2010. The share of Republicans has also declined from 30.8% in 2010 to 28.4% in 2014.” Baldassare/Bonner/Shresha in Fox & Hounds


California voters back shelter for young immigrants – Young immigrants who have poured into the United States should remain and be cared for while their ultimate fate is settled, a majority of California voters said in response to a new Field Poll.  Sacramento Bee article

Nearly 4,000 unaccompanied child migrants reunited with family in CA, half in LA County – Almost 4,000 unaccompanied child migrants were reunited with relatives and adult sponsors in California between the beginning of this year and July 31. But California doesn’t top the list of destination states for these kids, who have settled here and in other regions that have strong Central American communities.  KPCC report

Other areas

Dan Walters: Legislature’s marathon finale a time-honored tradition – It cannot be denied that for some strange reason, many of the Capitol’s denizens look forward to the hectic final night. They groove on the once-a-year ambiance, the sense of belonging, of being someone on the inside of things. It’s an irrational, undemocratic and sometimes hurtful way to make policy for 38 million Californians. But it’s a hoary ritual that is unlikely to end, because those in the Capitol like it.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Dan Walters Daily: California political action heads to court – Teacher tenure, high-speed rail, Senate scandals ‒ California’s political action is in the courts this fall, Dan says. Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Jerry Brown picks Mike Honda in congressional race – Gov. Jerry Brown has weighed in on the Democrat-on-Democrat South Bay congressional feud, choosing the liberal stalwart and incumbent Rep. Mike Honda over upstart Ro Khanna.  Capitol Alert

Two California judges disciplined for having sex in their chambers – The actions against Orange County Judge Scott Steiner, who had intimate relations with the former law students, and Kern County Judge Cory Woodward, who misled superiors about his 10-month relationship with a court clerk, are the strongest public reprimand the Commission on Judicial Performance can wield against a judge.  San Francisco Chronicle articleBakersfield Californian articleAP articleLA Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

High-speed rail foes ask California Supreme Court for hearing – High-speed rail opponents in Kings County are taking their fight to the California Supreme Court, filing a petition Tuesday asking justices to reverse two appeals court rulings.  Fresno Bee articleAP article

$1.4 billion penalty urged for PG&E in San Bruno blast – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. must pay a record $1.4 billion in fines and improvements for violating pipeline safety laws in the deadly San Bruno natural-gas explosion, two administrative law judges said Tuesday.  San Francisco Chronicle articleAP articleSacramento Bee editorial

Jobs and the Economy

Joe Moore: Fresno’s Fulton Mall at 50: When things don’t go according to plan – Fifty years ago this month, Fresno captured national headlines by closing its main street to the automobile and opening the Fulton Mall. This six-block long pedestrian only plaza was supposed to be the centerpiece of an ambitious plan for urban renewal, and the growth of the entire region. It was supposed to save Fresno from the evils of urban decay, suburban sprawl, and air pollution. Yet the result was exactly the opposite. How and why did that happen? How did Fresno go from being a national leader in downtown revitalization, to a city that for decades has been desperately searching for answers? It’s a story about what happens when things don’t go according to plan.  Moore documentary in KVPR

Quake jolts, doesn’t stop Napa 2014 harvest – No one is minimizing the quake — dozens of people were injured, historic buildings were damaged, rivers of wine were lost, and early estimates put the loss at $360 million — but the impact on the harvest itself, and therefore the wine made from it, is expected to be relatively small.  AP article

Insured losses from Napa quake won’t top $250 million, RMS says – Risk Management Solutions said on Tuesday that insured losses from the Aug. 24 Napa earthquake will not exceed $250 million. That is much less than an estimate issued within 12 hours of the quake by its competitor Eqecat, which predicted insured losses of $500 million to $1 billion.  San Francisco Chronicle articleCoreLogic: Valley home prices rose in July – Home prices in Fresno were up 7.6 percent in July compared to last year, according to a new report from CoreLogic. Month over month, home prices decreased by 0.6 percent in Fresno.  The Business Journal article

Eating Out: New law could mean more pet-friendly restaurants in Valley – Fifi and Fido could be making an appearance at your favorite restaurant. A new state law passed late last month makes it legal for restaurants to allow dogs on their patios beginning Jan. 1. Although some restaurants already welcome dogs, it was technically illegal. New language in the health and safety code makes it legal — but also adds a long list of rules for dogs and diners.  Fresno Bee article

Sacramento pooches earn a seat at the table – or at least under it – The legislation, authored by Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Aug. 21, amends the California Health and Safety Code to allow dogs in outdoor restaurant areas where food preparation does not occur, providing the dog is on a leash and does not walk through the indoor portion of the restaurant to get to the permitted area.  Sacramento Bee article

Visalia chamber taps tourism manager as CEO – The Visalia Chamber has found its new CEO in former area tourism official Gail Zurek. Morris had served as CEO since 2009, coming to the chamber after working for three years as executive director of the Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau.  The Business Journal article

Minimum wage hike could affect 4 in 10 LA workers, boost economy – Nearly four in 10 of Los Angeles’ workers would get a raise under a proposal by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to boost the minimum wage to $13.25 per hour by 2017.  KPCC report

New stadium deal for Raiders gives team land, pays off debt – A new Raiders stadium offer worked out by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan‘s development people calls for giving free land to the team and for city and Alameda County taxpayers to pay off $120 million they still owe for the 1990s overhaul of the Coliseum – which would be demolished.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Major League Soccer execs schedule visit to Sacramento – Two top executives from Major League Soccer will be in Sacramento on Sept. 18 and 19 to assess the region’s viability as a potential expansion market into the nation’s premiere professional soccer league.  Sacramento Bee article

Interactive database:  See average local wages for nearly every occupation – The average wage for full-time workers in the Sacramento region is now $52,448, according to new figures from the state Employment Development Department. That figure has remained essentially stagnant for several consecutive years. This database lets you compare wages across occupations and years.  Sacramento Bee article

Food is focus for two young Valley entrepreneurs – Tasty food could prove a winning recipe for success for two young entrepreneurs from Fresno high schools when they pitch their business ideas in a national competition next month in the Bay Area.  Fresno Bee article

Judge rules Berkeley must change soda tax language – A judge ruled Tuesday that Berkeley officials must change the soda tax measure language because it is currently misleading. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo said the city’s statement that the tax would only be imposed on “high-calorie, sugary drinks” is “a form of advocacy and therefore not impartial.”  KQED report

Don Nelson: Export-Import Bank opponents threaten jobs here in the Valley – The president of ProGauge Technologies writes, “Unfortunately, the opponents of the bank seem to look at it through a completely ideological lens, showing little regard for the practical impact its closure would have on jobs in communities across the country — including in the Central Valley.” Nelson op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Joe Mathews: Taxpayers go Hollywood – We’re making major motion pictures, baby! TV shows too! My fellow California taxpayers, you and I are now major investors in film and television productions. Our agent — or I should say our 120 agents in the state Legislature — cut a five-year deal last week putting more than 1.5 billion of our hard-earned dollars, via tax credits, into the production of on-screen entertainment.  Mathews op-ed in Fresno Bee

Audit finds Corning tribe mismanaged millions in casino funds – Amid an epic battle for control of a Northern California tribe and its lucrative casino, a new audit is leveling allegations that former tribal leaders mismanaged millions of dollars of assets in improper spending, salaries and poorly researched investments for the past dozen years. Sacramento Bee article


Oakdale Irrigation District considers fallowing land to save water, but promises not to sell it elsewhere – Pasture owners may be asked to voluntarily fallow their land to save water should the drought continue next year, but Oakdale Irrigation District directors on Tuesday assured that they would not then sell that water to outsiders.  Modesto Bee article

September song: Expect more dry wells in San Joaquin Valley – Dry-well desperation in the San Joaquin Valley’s rural communities is beginning to peak — and East Porterville in Tulare County is the epicenter.  Fresno Bee article

El Niño forecast is up in the air for Southern California – While a mild-to-moderate El Niño weather pattern is widely expected to develop in the fall, forecast models have “projected many different outcomes,” said Eric Boldt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.   LA Times article

Climate change means less Sierra Nevada runoff – A new study from UC Irvine shows climate change could reduce California’s water supply by changing mountain vegetation. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, even researchers were surprised how much could be lost.  Capital Public Radio report

Irrigation irritation rampant over water wasters – Call it irrigation irritation. Bay Area water watchers have a bad case of it. The expanse of verdant lawn ringing a large vacant construction site in Santa Clara sets off Brian Johns.  San Jose Mercury News article

City of Seville gets OK to drink water again – For the first time in years, the residents of Seville can pour water from their home faucets and drink it with confidence.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Small water allocation helping Terra Bella farmer – After he and other Terra Bella farmers were told in March that they wouldn’t get any surface water this year from the Friant-Kern Canal, Geoffrey Galloway figured his citrus grove would consist of dry, wilted trees by now. But on Wednesday, his 10 acres of groves in this tiny south Tulare County community were green, and that morning he had turned on the sprinklers to irrigate his navels, Valencias and mandarins.  Visalia Times-Delta article

If you want water with that meal, just ask for it – A new Kern County campaign urging restaurants to serve water only by request has two goals: save water and raise awareness of the need to save water during the drought.  Bakersfield Californian article

Drone demonstration highlights future use of technology – A few vineyard owners received a glimpse of a new technology last month when a drone buzzed over rows of grapevines at Dorner Family Vineyards.  Bakersfield Californian article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Stockton police slowly filling new officer slots  – During a mid-July meeting of a citizens committee overseeing Stockton’s new public-safety sales tax, Police Chief Eric Jones predicted his department would hire its first Measure A officer sometime the following month. But Tuesday afternoon, after Jones swore in one new officer and introduced three new police-academy trainees at the department’s downtown headquarters, the goal of even beginning to fill the looming pool of Measure A positions remained elusive.  Stockton Record article

Blog: Black officers vastly underrepresented on Stockton police force – One of the academy-bound trainees, 30-year-old Travell Williams, will be one of eight black officers when he is sworn in — out of 363 officers. That’s 2.2 percent of the force. According to the U.S. Census, 12 percent of Stockton’s 300,000 residents are black. If the police department mirrored the city’s demographics, 48 officers would be black. Stockton Record article

Officer sworn in as Turlock begins filling police vacancies – The Police Department got a new officer Tuesday, the first of several vacancies to be filled thanks to the city’s improved finances.  Modesto Bee article

Keyes woman donates $7,500 to Atwater police for new K-9 – A Keyes woman made a donation to the Atwater Police Department on Monday for the purchase of another police dog after one of its officers and his K-9 partner impressed her at an event during the weekend.  Merced Sun-Star article

Black UCLA employee claims racial profiling in arrest by campus police – A 46-year-old African American UCLA facilities employee arrested for obstruction and resisting arrest by campus police last week is accusing the department of racial profiling and violating his civil rights.  LA Times article


Joel Fox: Appeal of teacher tenure decision may be a good thing – but not for the reasons critics think – No Profile in Courage Award for Governor Jerry Brown and state School Superintendent Tom Torlakson who refused to stand up to their allies in the teacher’s unions and asked for an appeal of a Superior Court decision on the perverse effects of teacher tenure in California schools. Yet, the appeal in the Vergara case may prove to be a good thing for California education in the long term if, and I expect when, a higher court upholds the ruling.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Absenteeism costing local schools – Her story was highlighted Tuesday as local school officials talked about a partnership among them, law enforcement and commerce agencies to address chronic absenteeism — a problem that costs Kern County schools millions.  Bakersfield Californian article

Adults need to learn about Common Core as students learn it – The Rio Calaveras students, both 13, are among the first wave of California students navigating an unfamiliar new world as the state rolls out Common Core, a state standards initiative in math and English language arts aimed at making educational standards more consistent and workplace-friendly. It’s been at least 15 years since California has updated its education standards, and the state invested $1.25 billion implementing Common Core.  Stockton Record article

‘First Look’: Safe School Plans provide direction in emergencies – If a shooting happens at school, do students and teachers know what to do? If an earthquake rolls in the middle of class, do students and teachers know where they are supposed to go? Real live questions like these are what Justin Roberts with the Kern County Superintendent of Schools said are part of the Safe School Plan enforced in local schools.  Bakersfield Californian article

Schools tackle social media – Visalia and Tulare school officials find themselves getting creative as they look for ways to prevent online bullying and other forms of online exploitation. And each school and district has its own take on how to tackle the problems.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Closures, consolidation on list of Calaveras Unified cutbacks – The Calaveras Unified School District voted Tuesday night for a plan to close Toyon Middle School and Gold Strike High School and to consolidate three upcountry elementary schools as officials wrestle through a financial crisis after years of declining enrollment and spending down reserves.  Stockton Record article

UC Merced Connect:  Researchers to develop virtual center for learning disabilities – UC Merced researchers will develop a virtual center to support parents and caregivers, as well as health and other professionals, in detecting and treating developmental disorders in Merced County children, work made possible by a grant from First 5 Merced County. UC Merced Connect in Merced Sun-Star

Fresno Pacific included in low-cost list – Fresno Pacific University ranked among the top ten most affordable private universities in the West, according to a new list by the college information service Great Value Colleges.  The Business Journal article

LA Schools Superintendent Deasy defends his dealings with Apple, Pearson – Los Angeles schools Supt. John Deasy on Tuesday issued his most extensive and passionate defense yet of his actions involving Apple and Pearson, the companies that received the major contract in a $1.3-billion technology program. He asserted that he did nothing improper before or during the bidding process.  LA Times article

How a 15-year-old ‘hacked’ his way into UC Berkeley – Sage Ryan, who turned 15 the other day, is no super genius. He avoids math when he can, yet he’s just entered UC Berkeley – as a junior.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Limited water presents challenge for natural gas fracking – Extracting natural gas for energy from shale rock deep underground requires lots of water, but much of the world’s shale gas is in regions where water is already scarce, including part of California, according to a study issued Tuesday.  LA Times article

Napa quake forces redrawing of fault lines – At least one good thing will come of the recent South Napa Earthquake that shook the wine country on August 24: It will lead to much better maps of active faulting in that area. The bad news: There is likely far more shake potential in the Napa Valley than was previously attributed to the faulting there. KQED report

Modesto City Council approves streetlight replacement project – The Modesto City Council gave the city manager permission Tuesday to spend as much as $4 million to replace nearly 9,500 streetlights with energy-efficient ones that officials say will last longer and save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on its electric bill.  Modesto Bee article

Arvin mulls petitioning for gas tests – The Arvin City Council on Tuesday discussed the possibility of petitioning the state to test gas pipelines within city limits. The conversation was initiated because about three dozen Arvin residents have been displaced for more than five months due to a gas leak from a line that had never been tested.  Bakersfield Californian article

Kaweah Oaks Preserve gets 22-acre expansion – Jennifer Malone clutched her mother’s arm Thursday morning as she guided her into a sprawling expanse of land thick with weeds. Malone, 64, and her mother, Marie Wilcox, 80, both of Woodlake, were followed by an intimate gathering of people onto the land.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Air District to fund replacement of waste transfer trucks – The San Joaquin Valley Air District has opened a new round of funding that will be used to replace waste transfer trucks that operate within the Central Valley.  Merced Sun-Star article

Health/Human Services

Plunge in kindergarteners’ vaccination rate worries health officials – California parents are deciding against vaccinating their kindergarten-age children at twice the rate they did seven years ago, a fact public health experts said is contributing to the reemergence of measles across the state and may lead to outbreaks of other serious diseases.  LA Times article

‘Window of opportunity’ to control Ebola is closing, CDC director says – The “window of opportunity” to get a handle on the exploding Ebola outbreak in West Africa is closing, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday.  LA Times article

California officials gearing up for open Obamacare enrollment – Looking to avoid the pitfalls and confusion that surrounded the launch of Obamacare, California is gearing up to get 1.2 million people to renew their health policies for next year.  LA Times article

Agreement could allow some vets to be treated at San Joaquin General Hospital – Some veterans will soon be able to receive medical care at San Joaquin General Hospital through changes at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to reduce wait times for veterans seeking medical treatment.  Stockton Record article

Study:  Double mastectomy may not be best choice for survival – Women diagnosed with early-stage cancer in one breast are increasingly choosing to have both breasts removed to reduce their chances of getting cancer again, but they’ll likely have no better chance at long-term survival than those who had a far less invasive lumpectomy followed by radiation, researchers said Tuesday.  San Francisco Chronicle articleKQED report

Camp Taylor makes offer to buy former Stanislaus County Honor Farm – A local nonprofit organization that holds summer camps and other programs for children with congenital heart disease soon could have a permanent camp facility on land formerly used to house inmates.  Modesto Bee article

CVS removes tobacco products from pharmacies – CVS plans to announce Wednesday that it has pulled all remaining cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products from each of its 7,700 pharmacies nationwide.  LA Times article

In the battle against West Nile virus, sometimes people are the pests – For those instances when the homeowner ignores vector control’s calls and notices or in those instances when they refuse to allow inspectors to check their yards, Orange County has now resorted to a new tactic: warrants.  LA Times article


New California cycling law goes into effect – State road safety officials are warning drivers to be on the lookout for children on bikes with the start of the new school year. The California Highway Patrol also points out that the new state law requiring drivers to give cyclists 3 feet of space when passing goes into effect Sept. 16.  Sacramento Bee article

Other Areas

Tabled Fresno city code enforcement bill likely to return – A chastened Fresno City Hall is hustling back to square one on its dreams of turning everyone into a code enforcement officer. City officials have tabled a bill that would have made it easier for Fresnans to take their neighbor to court for allegedly causing certain public nuisances.  Fresno Bee article

Chowchilla city manager Mark Lewis on leave, police chief takes over – The Chowchilla City Council has put City Manager Mark Lewis on paid leave and replaced him with the police chief. No reason was given for the move, but in recent weeks, Lewis has been the focal point of two city workers’ legal complaints.  Merced Sun-Star article

Visalia to design community-aquatics center – The Visalia City Council on Tuesday began what likely will be a years-long process to determine the possibility of building a new community center and aquatics center on the city’s south side.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Sheriff’s Sgt. James Pacheco named to lead Merced County Animal Control – Merced County’s Animal Control Department welcomed a new leader to its Atwater facility Monday, a longtime sergeant who was the “best choice” to lead the agency, according to the sheriff.  Merced Sun-Star article

Stockton hoping big weekend nets Rachel Ray prize – With one final push over the Labor Day weekend, the Stockton Animal Shelter has completed its bid to win the $100,000 top prize in a summer-long national contest to improve the outcomes for the stray animals in its care.  Stockton Record article

McNamara Park upgrade under dispute and delays opening – Disagreements over who should pay for problems with the upgrade of McNamara Park have pushed its reopening back five months – and counting.  Merced Sun-Star article

Chris Freeman: Departed librarian disputes negative press – The former head of the Stockton-San Joaquin Public Library system writes, “What with all the negative press I’m receiving for having resigned from my position (something people do everyday), I thought I’d drop you a line regarding some of the positive changes that took place at SSJCPL during my four year tenure there.” Freeman in Stockton Record

Port of Stockton’s ‘Ship Cam’ allows view of oceangoing vessels in port – The Port of Stockton has launched a new “Ship Cam” that allows web users to watch the huge ships plying the Deep Water Ship Channel.  Stockton Record article

Berkeley pushes new boundary with free marijuana – Since the birth of the Free Speech Movement half a century ago, this city has prided itself on its liberal values and policies, be they generous benefits for the needy or a look-the-other-way attitude toward marijuana use. Now, the city is bringing those policies together with a new amenity for the poor here: The marijuana will be free.  New York Times article

How to keep your cloud accounts secure –  The cloud can be a wonderful thing. It’s a place where you can store your files then access them from any device. But it can also lead to disastrous situations.  LA Times articleAP article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – State Assembly shamefully kills donor disclosure act.

Merced Sun-Star – Legislators take a walk rather than expand campaign disclosure.

Modesto Bee – Legislators take a walk rather than expand campaign disclosure.

Sacramento Bee – PG&E is slammed with a record fine, and deservedly so.

Stockton Record – Stockton-San Joaquin Library should be its own department.