September 3, 2015


Top stories

California bills on guns, police video and pension funds await governor’s signature — State lawmakers on Wednesday sent the governor bills that would ban concealed guns from schools and college campuses in California, make it a felony for police officers to alter or delete video evidence, and require the state’s public pension funds to divest their holdings in thermal coal. LA Times article

A new way to track political money in California — Californians will have an easier time determining who is giving money to political candidates and causes starting Thursday, when a new tool becomes available on the secretary of state’s website. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article



Joe Mathews: Send California your anchor babies — Strip away the rationalizations, and what you have is an unreasoning fear of babies. After all, babies and immigrant parents represent everything this country needs — investment, risk-taking, striving for a better life. So if you have a problem with these babies, you have a problem with the American dream. Maybe you should consider emigrating. Love it or leave it, baby. Mathews in Fresno Bee 

Stories of Mexican mothers having babies in U.S. are complex, Texas doctors say — Doctors here at Starr County Memorial Hospital deliver about 30 babies a month, including those of mothers in the country illegally, hospital officials said. In this county in the heart of the impoverished Rio Grande Valley, so-called anchor babies have been delivered for decades, some to women who have already settled in Texas, others to those who crossed the river expressly to give birth on U.S. soil. LA Times article


Other areas 

George Skelton: Drivers need a fix for battered roads, and Republicans should learn from history – Longing for the good old days when California enjoyed the smoothest highways in America? Well, back then, there wasn’t a roadblock on taxes to finance them. The route to fewer potholes and less frustrating car commutes is more money. It’s pretty simple really, despite Republican political pitches and self-denial. Skelton column in LA Times

Sacramento Bee: Harris, Padilla shine light; citizens rejoice – Wednesday was a good day for informing the public. Two top state officials flipped virtual switches and flooded some dimly lit nooks of government with light. Sacramento Bee editorial 

California Assembly members limit speechmaking – Sometimes, brevity is the soul of policymaking. The final weeks of California’s legislative session require lawmakers to churn through hundreds of bills in marathon, hours-long floor sessions. Some of those measures prompt lively and probing debate. In other cases, legislators seem to be racing each other. Sacramento Bee article

Protestors back bill spurred by recent police shootings – California lawmakers took up bills to regulate videos of police activities and law enforcement’s acquisition of surplus military on Wednesday as hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters demonstrated outside the governor’s office urging the Legislature to take action on a bill to require better oversight of police interactions with the public. AP articleCapitol AlertFresno Bee article

Jon Coupal: Republicans won’t get fooled on taxes again – The president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association writes, “Republicans are too smart to agree to tax hikes that can’t be repealed in exchange for needed reforms in transportation policy that will be repealed or altered within months of enactment. In the words of The Who: ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’” Coupal op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Bill to strip coal from California pension portfolios heads to governor — California’s public pension funds would need to drop their current investments in coal and avoid making new ones under a bill the California Assembly sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday. Sacramento Bee article

Bill expanding access to experimental drugs sent to Gov. Jerry Brown – Legislation seeking to give dying Californians better access to experimental drugs cleared the Assembly and headed to Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday. Sacramento Bee article 

Lawmakers advance protection for transgender Californians – Lawmakers have approved two bills aimed at offering greater legal protection and benefits to transgender Californians. Merced Sun-Star article 

California ivory ban moves one step closer to law – California lawmakers voted Wednesday to expand a ban on elephant ivory so it could no longer be bought or sold in the state regardless of when it was first imported. San Francisco Chronicle articleCapital Public Radio report

Deadline looming on ethics inquiry of San Jose Rep. Mike Honda — The U.S. House Ethics Committee has a Thursday deadline to reveal its next step in a complaint accusing Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) of improperly coordinating campaign and official duties. LA Times article;


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

Tribes, farmers battle over Northern California’s water – Fish vs. farmers. Tribes vs. agribusiness. It might seem easy, summarizing the conflict over the Trinity River in Northern California. But amid record drought, this long-running and singular battle has become a case study about the difficulties in balancing Western water use. McClatchy Newspapers article

Black and Latino students in California score better on AP tests than peers elsewhere – Black and Latino students in California who passed Advanced Placement exams outperformed their peers elsewhere, but a gap persists between them and their white and Asian counterparts, according to new test score results. LA Times article


Jobs and the Economy

California equal pay bill may be toughest in nation – California’s new Fair Pay Act, which awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, may be the nation’s most aggressive attempt yet to close the salary gap between men and women. LA Times article‘Four things workers should know about the California Fair Pay Act’ in LA Times

National University debuts economic index for Fresno, Madera – National University economist has debuted a new monthly analysis of leading economic indicators for Fresno and Madera counties, which show a positive trend of at least 24 months of growth. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Government’s vote key in forming Modesto assessment district – Modesto, Stanislaus County and the County Office of Education provided the votes that carried Tuesday’s election to form a downtown community benefit district — in which all property owners, including government — will pay assessments totaling $700,000 annually to pay for improvements. Modesto Bee article

Applications for U.S. jobless aid rise to still low 282,000 – More Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, but applications remain at historically near low levels in a positive sign for the U.S. economy amid a broader global slowdown. AP article

CalSTRS considers shifting part of portfolio into conservative investments – CalSTRS is considering a long-term shift in its investment strategy to reduce risk and volatility at the $184 billion fund. The teachers’ pension fund would gradually shift up to 12 percent of its portfolio, or around $22 billion at current values, away from U.S. stocks and other relatively volatile investments and into safer products such as long-term U.S. Treasury securities and relatively bland infrastructure deals. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times artice 

San Jose joins forces with seven other cities to raise minimum wage – Top officials from seven Bay Area cities will join Mayor Sam Liccardo on Thursday to announce an unprecedented joint venture to raise the minimum wage across the valley in a regional effort to close the growing gap between the rich and the poor in Silicon Valley. San Jose Mercury News article

Sacramento task force recommends $12.50 minimum wage with exemptions – A task force appointed by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson recommended Wednesday that the minimum wage in Sacramento be raised to $12.50 an hour by 2020. Sacramento Bee article

Valley businesses among state’s biggest tax delinquents – Eighteen Valley businesses and individuals are on the state’s list of the 500 largest sales-tax delinquencies, some with unpaid taxes dating back a decade or more. Collectively, the Valley entities on the list owe more than $17.4 million, according to data released this week by the state Board of EqualizationFresno Bee article

Latest Raiders stadium plan for Oakland violates team’s ‘terms and conditions’ for deal — Floyd Kephart has known for months that the cornerstone of his plan to finance a new stadium for the Oakland Raiders was a nonstarter for the team. Yet, he has continued to pitch it, raising further doubt that Oakland and Alameda County will retain him as their hand-picked financial partner in securing a new Raiders stadium and spearheading the Coliseum City mega-development. Oakland Tribune article

Jennifer Self: Don’t care about the Fox’s management? You should – It’s a roster any venue anywhere in the world would envy: Legendary acts as disparate as B.B King and the Pixies, George Jones and the Pretenders, Alison Krauss and Alice Cooper have graced the stage of Bakersfield’s beloved Fox Theater over the years. Who could ask for more than that? The Fox Foundation, for one. Self in Bakersfield Californian

Dramatic rise in crime casts a shadow on downtown LA’s gentrification — The forces of rapid gentrification are crashing up against the chronic poverty, homelessness and crime that have long been a part of life in the city center. Police and residents say the influx of new lofts, luxury high-rise apartments, bars and eateries have made these new downtown dwellers easy targets for street crime. LA Times article 

LA24 Olympic bid had something different: optics but no delusions – It could be difficult to stand out in a crowd of international contenders that includes Paris, Rome, Budapest and Hamburg. A key element in LA24’s pitch will be how economical it can make the Games. LA Times article 

Legislation extends injury benefits to Cal Fire firefighters – State firefighters injured because of their work would receive up to one year of salary instead of worker’s compensation, if a measure that suddenly surfaced Tuesday becomes law. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Bee: How to get your $70 million back – The next time your Assembly or Senate member says that she or he is working hard for you, ask them this: Why aren’t you helping me get back my money? Fresno Bee editorial

Habitat for Humanity announces new Fresno director — Habitat for Humanity Fresno County has a new executive director after a four-and-a-half-month national search that resulted in more than 50 applicants and six interviews before a decision was made. Matthew Grundy, 33, fills the agency’s top position which was left vacant when Tony Miranda left in April to lead the Bakersfield affiliate. Fresno Bee article

Spurred on by conflict over Airbnb, LA struggles to define ‘bad’ short-term rentals –  As Los Angeles lawmakers try to regulate the booming business of short-term rentals, they are trying to draw a line between what they see as “good” and “bad” rentals. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Casino deal is good enough, given constraints – Playing the hand he was dealt, Gov. Brown is doing what he can to encourage tribes to help less fortunate Indians, provide worker protections, and pay to offset some impacts of their enterprises. United Auburn showed its progressive view by agreeing to the terms. Sacramento Bee editorial

Temblor Brewing in final rush to opening day — Don Bynum and Tom Maxwell are in the final wild rush to Monday’s soft opening of Temblor Brewing, their new craft brewery and restaurant in Bakersfield. The pair are still working their day jobs in real estate and accounting while working mornings and nights at Temblor. They’ve got a lot to do. Bakersfield Californian article



Fresno meets state water mandate for third straight month – For a third consecutive month, Fresno met the state mandate to reduce water consumption, dropping 28 percent in August compared with August 2013. But city officials have an immediate plea for residents – to cut back use as early as this weekend because the weather will cool into the 80s. Fresno Bee article

Tulare city, state officials disagree on water-saving totals – Tulare administrators and the California State Water Resources Control Board are at odds over the city’s water conservation results. At issue: the inclusion of water for commercial agricultural use. Visalia Times-Delta article

State orders California firm to stop tapping Sierra springs – Armed with evidence captured by surveillance cameras, California regulators have ordered a business to stop tapping Sierra Nevada spring water that is later bottled and sold in stores, officials said Wednesday. AP article

Stockton Record: Water issues abound – Water, water … everywhere? Well, not quite. In this fourth consecutive year of historic California drought, we needed to change the old saying just a bit. A day doesn’t go by when water-related issues aren’t making news. Here are our thoughts on a few recent developments. Stockton Record editorial

Fresno State number two on drought-endangered college list – Fresno State was recently named one of the most drought-endangered college campuses in the U.S. by consumer landscaping service platform LawnStarter.  The Business Journal article 

In Terra Bella, half of citrus trees meet bulldozers — Terra Bella Irrigation District in southern Tulare County is a great place to grow citrus, but only if there is water. The Business Journal article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

California data shows racial disparity in arrests, deaths – Just 6 percent of Californians are African American, yet they are involved in 17 percent of all arrests in the state and a quarter of in-custody deaths, according to what officials called a nationally unprecedented release of data Wednesday. AP article 

Public can now see California data on arrests and deaths in police custody – Saying that increased transparency can help ease tensions between police and the public, California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday unlocked state databases on police killings and arrests, while saying law enforcement agencies should be required to report more information about incidents involving force. LA Times articleKQED report 

Legionnaire’s outbreak grows, keeping San Quentin locked down –  An environmental consultant has been brought into the hunt for the source of Legionnaires’ disease at San Quentin state prison. After six days of testing, officials still do not know what caused the outbreak that has left more than 100 inmates sick and the sprawling historic prison in near-lockdown. LA Times article 

Key element of San Francisco’s police body-camera policy remains out of focus – One of the more contentious issues surrounding the national discussion on law enforcement body camera use has emerged in San Francisco’s talks on equipping its police department with the devices. A working group tasked for the past 90 days with developing a body camera use policy for the San Francisco Police Department could not agree on whether to allow officers to screen their footage before filing reports. San Francisco Chronicle article

Modesto police: 12-year-old boy cited for hate crime – A 12-year-old Modesto boy has been cited for a hate crime and battery after allegedly attacking one of his African American classmates while they waited for the school bus. The Modesto City Schools district’s reaction to the incident provoked the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to get involved. Modesto Bee article

Fresno police question second teen in San Joaquin Memorial threat case – Fresno police questioned a second teenager on Wednesday involved in a perceived Instagram threat that shut down San Joaquin Memorial High School and led to the felony arrest of a student on Tuesday. Fresno Bee article

Close call: iPhone stops bullet during armed robbery of Fresno State student — A Fresno State student is lucky to be uninjured after an armed robbery near the campus in which a gunshot fired by the thief was blocked by the victim’s iPhone, police said. Fresno Bee article

Closer than you think: Bakersfield film shoot depicts human trafficking in U.S. — Siddharth Kara can still see the tortured faces of the people he’s encountered from the slave trade. What sticks most in the mind of the award-winning writer and Harvard lecturer is Bosnia. Bakersfield Californian article 

LA homicides, after big jump in August, are up 7 percent for 2015 — After remaining relatively flat for much of the year, the number of people killed in Los Angeles surged in August, leaving police scrambling to rein in the violence. Through Saturday, the city recorded a nearly 7% increase in homicides — which amounts to 12 more killings — since the start of the year, compared with the same time period in 2014, according to LAPD data. LA Times article

DNA database imperiled by Prop 47 ruling on juveniles, San Diego DA says – The California Supreme Court should overturn a lower court ruling that juvenile offenders have the same rights as adults to reduced sentences under Proposition 47, according to an appeal filed by the San Diego County district attorney. LA Times article

Court: Parole OK for prisoner who denies crime — The California parole board can deny release for an inmate who lacks “insight” into the crime he or she committed many years ago. But a state appeals court says a prisoner who has behaved well during 34 years of confinement, and who poses a low risk of violence to the public, can’t be denied parole merely because he continues to deny the crime he was convicted of committing. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Sharp downtown in use of force in Oakland Police Department — Despite several recent officer-involved shootings, a Chronicle analysis of Oakland Police Department data shows such incidents are becoming less common. Officer-involved shootings, excessive force complaints and incidents in which officers used force have all declined precipitously over the past three years in Oakland. San Francisco Chronicle article

Warden appointed at California State Prison — California State Prison’s acting warden since 2014 has officially been appointed the prison’s warden, according to a news release from the officer of Gov. Jerry Brown. David Davey, 51, of Bakersfield, previously served as chief deputy warden at Kern Valley State Prison from 2012 to 2014, the news release said. Bakersfield Californian article



Summer programs use contrasting approaches for educating English learners, migrant students – The Fresno County Office of Education and the Clovis Unified School District took drastically different approaches to educating English learners through two summer programs. Fresno Bee article

Merced students weigh in on new off-campus sexual assault law – Students at Merced College mostly supported a new law signed Tuesday allowing California community colleges to suspend or expel students for off-campus sexual assaults. Merced Sun-Star article

Merced high schools use local produce for school lunches – Live Oak and the school district are connected through Ag Link, a business that facilitates the buying and selling of fresh, local produce. Ag Link helps schools provide healthy lunches to students through local farmers at a reasonable price. Merced Sun-Star article

West Hills College Lemoore ranked top in region — West Hills College Lemoore has been recognized for being one of the best community colleges in the state. USA Today has named the college the top community college in Northern California based on the university transfer rate, student-teacher ratio, affordability and distance education. The ranking is part of a recent article on the top 10 colleges in Northern and Southern California. Hanford Sentinel article

UC Berkeley seeks scholarship funds to attract black students – UC Berkeley is calling for a $20 million scholarship fund to be established for black undergraduates and will take steps to attract more black students, faculty and administrators to the flagship campus — and make it a more welcoming place for them, university officials will announce Thursday. San Francisco Chronicle article

San Francisco school adopting gender-neutral bathrooms — The boys’ bathrooms and girls’ bathrooms will become just bathrooms at the first San Francisco school to go gender-neutral. Miraloma Elementary started removing the circles, triangles and stick-figure signs from restrooms at the start of this school year, in part to acknowledge six to eight students who don’t fit traditional gender norms — kids who range from tomboys to transgender, said Principal Sam Bass. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Bill to upgrade schools on military bases moves forward – A state Senate bill to help schools on military installations find more money for facility repairs passed its last round of legislative approval Wednesday in a unanimous Assembly vote. Bakersfield Californian article

Turlock Unified seeks applicants from west and south of town – Two vacancies on the Turlock Unified School District board will be filled by appointment. The unanimous votes to choose the process were among the last for Deborah Martin, who resigned effective Wednesday. Modesto Bee article

McKinley students receive officers’ gifts – Representatives of the Stockton Police Officers Association received a rousing ovation from students and teachers Wednesday afternoon when they delivered thousands of dollars’ worth of supplies to a south Stockton elementary school. Stockton Record article

New institute in Palo Alto aims to shape state, national K-12 policy — A prominent scholar from Stanford University will direct a new education institute in Palo Alto whose mission is to influence K-12 policies in both California and the nation. EdSource article

Teen partly responsible for her sex abuse by teacher, LA Unified tells appeals court — Los Angeles Unified continues to argue that a 14-year-old girl should be partly responsible for sexual abuse by her eighth-grade teacher. LA Times article



Rough fire expands to nearly 80,000 acres burned — The Rough fire, which has been burning for more than a month, has scorched 79,973 acres and remains at 25 percent containment, the U.S. Forest Service said Wednesday. About 1,900 fire personnel are working to extinguish the massive blaze, which is now the largest wildfire burning in California. Fresno Bee article 

Final report for Merced Irrigation District power line project keeps proposed route — A final environmental impact report for a Merced Irrigation District power line project maintains the same proposed route for new power lines and contains pages of response to comments made about the project during the California Environmental Quality Act comment period. Merced Sun-Star article


Health/Human Services

HIV-preventing drug holds up under study — Truvada, a daily pill that holds the hope of eliminating the risk of contracting HIV, appears to be living up to its promise. In the first real-world study of the prescription drug, Kaiser researchers found no new HIV infections among the more than 650 people they followed over nearly three years, beginning just after the drug was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012. San Francisco Chronicle article

Tulare County takes steps to snuff out e-cigarettes – Tulare County now is regulating e-cigarettes more strictly than existing state law, which local supporters say is needed to protect the public from secondhand vapor and to stop youths from taking up a bad habit. Fresno Bee article

Davis bans smoking in parks, other public areas – Davis has joined cities around the state in prohibiting smoking in parks, recreational areas and the city’s main downtown plaza, as part of a statewide push to further restrict where people can light up. Sacramento Bee article 

West Side cities slapped for cancer-causing agent in tap water – With attention focused on hot-button water-related topics – drought, groundwater, fish requirements, sinking earth, fallowed fields, domestic wells going dry – here’s one you probably haven’t lost sleep over: chromium 6. Modesto Bee article

World’s largest public stem cell bank inaugurated in California – California researchers opened the world’s largest publicly available stem cell bank Tuesday, which will aid in the search for cures for genetic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and autism. Sacramento Bee article 

California moves to stop misuse of psychiatric meds in foster care — Children in foster care are prescribed antipsychotic drugs at double to quadruple the rate of that not in foster care, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Hundreds of children were found to be taking five or more psychotropic medications at a time, although there is no medical evidence to support such a drug regimen. KQED report



Hanford vanpool program bags $3 million grant — When executive director Ron Hughes started a Hanford-based vanpool program more than a decade ago, it was a struggle to locate funding just to get the farmworker and correctional officer vanpool program off the ground. Not anymore. With a proven track record and hundreds of vans travelling millions of miles a year throughout California, CalVans is reaping benefits from California’s increasing focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to combat global warming. Hanford Sentinel article


Other areas

Bakersfield council decertifies 24th Street environmental report, examines proposed Cal Water rate increase – Two major city projects — the 24th Street widening and a state application for unappropriated river water — took a step back Wednesday night, when members of the Bakersfield City Council voted to decertify their environmental reports. Bakersfield Californian article

Mayor apologizes for reading letters – Hanford Mayor Russ Curry apologized Tuesday for publicly reading accusatory letters about a fellow council member. Curry told the council he acted “inappropriately” by reading the letters and expressed “sincere regret” for his actions. Hanford Sentinel article 

Watchdog group seeks ethics reforms at Sacramento City Hall – Arguing Sacramento City Hall is suffering from a “vacuum of accountability,” a local watchdog group released a series of ethics reform recommendations Wednesday it hopes the city will adopt. Sacramento Bee article 

Taco Throwdown wins recognition from minor league baseball — The Fresno Grizzlies Taco Truck Throwdown 5 was selected as the Promotion of the Month for August/September by the Minor League Baseball Promotional Seminar. Fresno Bee article 

Clovis initiates a walk of fame for residents – A Qualcomm executive, a former Oakland Raiders quarterback, a U.S. president’s deputy chief of staff and former “Gunsmoke” actor all have something in common: all spent a significant portion of their lives in Clovis. Fresno Bee article;The Business Journal article

Jeff Jardine: Learning about the ‘Audubon of the West’ — In 1849, with the Gold Rush ramping up, Andrew Jackson Grayson founded the community that bears his name along the San Joaquin River, about 16 miles west of Modesto. Quite the businessman, Grayson had two other passions: birds and art. In fact, he was a tremendous artist whose great dream, is seems, was to become known as the “Audubon of the West.” Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Matier and Ross: San Francisco fights back – here comes the potty patrol — In another stab at pee-policing, The Chronicle’s Matier & Ross report that San Francisco is spending $1 million a year for “potty-sitters” to ensure that the city’s public toilets are kept available for people who need a restroom and not a place to shoot up or turn tricks. Matier and Ross in San Francisco Chronicle

Miyuki Harwood: How I was rescued in Sierra National Forest — Miyuki Harwood, 62, of Folsom, was rescued Aug. 29 after nine days lost in the Sierra. In her own words, she recounts how she got lost, her ordeal and her rescue. Harwood in Fresno Bee



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – State government is lax about getting unclaimed money back with its rightful owners.

Sacramento Bee – Playing the hand he was dealt, Gov. Brown is doing what he can to encourage tribes to help less fortunate Indians, provide worker protections, and pay to offset some impacts of their enterprises. United Auburn showed its progressive view by agreeing to the terms; Wednesday was a good day for informing the public. Two top state officials flipped virtual switches and flooded some dimly lit nooks of government with light.

Stockton Record – Water, water … everywhere? Well, not quite. In this fourth consecutive year of historic California drought, we needed to change the old saying just a bit. A day doesn’t go by when water-related issues aren’t making news. Here are our thoughts on a few recent developments.