September 3, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

California’s new climate change laws almost didn’t happen this year.  Here’s how lawmakers pulled it off —  For Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, global warming conjured images of stricken polar bears floating away on melting ice sheets, a problem with little relevance to a politician from California’s bone-dry Inland Empire. But while attending the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris last year, he heard a new conversation about helping the world’s poor, polluted communities — places that sounded a lot like his own district. LA Times article 

Do immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally commit more crimes? — Presidential candidate Donald Trump continues to promote the idea that immigrants play an outsized role in crime. While up-to-date data on immigrants and crime is difficult to come by, and what is available is imperfect, a range of studies show little evidence that immigrants commit more crimes than U.S. citizens. McClatchy Newspapers article

Gov. Brown

Labor Secretary calls on Gov. Brown to sign farmworker overtime bill — The nation’s top labor official says he supports California’s just-passed bill to expand overtime pay for farmworkers and is urging Gov. Jerry Brown to sign it. KQED report 

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Voters turn attention to drug costs — Californians face one of the highest-stakes ballots ever on Nov. 8, including fierce and expensive campaigns involving sex, guns, and drugs. Especially drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are the front runners in the spending sweepstakes, having spent $70 million already to defeat Proposition 61, The Drug Price Relief Act.  That proposal would limit the prices state agencies pay for drugs to the prices paid by the federal Veterans Administration. Capitol Weekly article 

Robin Abcarian: Marijuana: A potent disruptor for young users, whose brains are still developing — As Californians ponder whether to vote for Proposition 64, the November ballot initiative that would legalize marijuana for adult use, it’s important to own up to the fact that marijuana is not always the benign bud that many advocates would have us believe, particularly for teens and young adults, whose brains are still developing. Abcarian column in LA Times 

Bakersfield Californian: Prop 56: Vote YES to increase cigarette tax — Without an infusion of cash, California’s anti-smoking efforts and treatment may plateau, or even worse reverse. Californians should vote YES on Prop. 56 to maintain and expand the state’s anti-smoking and treatment programs. Bakersfield Californian editorial 

California Politics Podcast: We are adjourned — On this week’s episode: taking stock of the final hours of the two-year session of the California Legislature — from the deal on climate change cash to the collapse of a major overhaul of the Public Utilities Commission. And, a few takeaways of the biggest things that came out of the entire legislative session. With John Myers of the Los Angeles Times and Marisa Lagos of KQED News.California Politics Podcast 

One of California’s best-known Republicans is backing Loretta Sanchez for Senate.  Here’s why – Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is supporting his colleague Rep. Loretta Sanchez in this fall’s Senate race, a contest that pits two Democrats against each other and gives GOP voters no obvious choice. LA Times article 

Stanford sex assault’s sentence spurs debate over prison plan — A November ballot measure backed by Gov. Jerry Brown would allow earlier parole for thousands of California inmates, but critics say it could result in the very situation that led to public outrage in the case of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner. AP article

Other areas 

As Brock Turner is released, politicians demand ouster of judge in Stanford rape case – California political leaders on Friday called on voters to recall Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky, hours after Brock Turner was released from jailfor sexually assaulting an unconscious woman in 2015. LA Times article 

Back from the brink: State expands climate goals, but doubt and distrust persist — For all that was achieved by the passage of SB 32 — extending the original 2006 law and setting a new target of reducing statewide emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 — the titanic legislative struggle could not fully mask some warning signs about the ultimate prospects of achieving the state’s lofty ambitions. CALmatters article 

Tobacco industry works to block rules on e-cigarettes – The e-cigarette and cigar industries have enlisted high-profile lobbyists and influential congressional allies in an attempt to stop the Food and Drug Administration from retroactively examining their products for public health risks or banning them from the market. New York Times article 

Dan Walters: As Legislature stalemates on State Bar bill, the fallout begins – Wednesday night’s legislative stalemate on giving the State Bar permission to continue collecting dues from the state’s lawyers and, more controversially, overhauling its organization and operations, is already creating fallout. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Andrew Fiala: Can we look past Kaepernick and actually talk about race? – The philosophy professor and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “Racial injustice continues to be a problem without a solution. Poverty and prison plague the black community. Unarmed black men are shot by police. Riots break out. And here we are talking about a quarterback’s socks.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee 

Santa Clara cops threaten not to staff 49ers games – The union representing Santa Clara police officers said some of its members may not work at 49ers games over comments made by quarterback Colin Kaepernick about race and policing, according to a news report. San Francisco Chronicle article 

How spy tech firms let governments see everything on a smartphone — Want to invisibly spy on 10 iPhone owners without their knowledge? Gather their every keystroke, sound, message and location? That will cost you $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee with an Israeli outfit called the NSO Group. You can spy on more people if you would like — just check out the company’s price list. The NSO Group is one of a number of companies that sell surveillance tools that can capture all the activity on a smartphone, like a user’s location and personal contacts. These tools can even turn the phone into a secret recording device. New York Times article

Presidential Politics 

Hillary Clinton coming back to San Francisco to scoop up campaign cash — Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is returning to San Francisco on Sept. 12 for another big-dollar fundraiser. In an invitation to potential donors obtained by The Chronicle, organizers said this “may be her last visit to the Bay Area before election day.” The invitation says contributing at least $33,400 or raising $100,000 will give donors access to the “chair reception with Hillary featuring exclusive performance by a special guest,” who is not identified. San Francisco Chronicle article

News Stories

Top Stories

California’s heavy water users could face penalties if drought persists — Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill this week requiring water districts to crack down on excessive use anytime a drought emergency is in effect and water conservation is required — as has been the case for much of the last year. LA Times article 

District debunks ‘trauma’ claim, says girl did not use boys’ bathroom – Clovis Unified says allegations that a 9-year-old boy was “traumatized” after seeing a girl use a urinal at school are false. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy 

California exports continue to lag year-ago numbers – California’s export trade industry once again saw declines in year-over-year numbers in July. In-state businesses shipped merchandise valued at $13.51 billion, down 2.1 percent from $13.8 billion in July 2015, according to an analysis of Friday’s U.S. Commerce Department figures by Beacon Economics. Sacramento Bee article 

Clint Olivier: Fresno COG floats another sales tax proposal to repair roads – The Fresno City Council member writes, “Being fed up with the awful condition of our roads is easy — it’s finding the money to repair them that’s the challenge. Nearly everyone agrees California’s highways and local roads are a disaster, and for too many people in positions of power, the easy fix is to raise taxes. Now, a largely unknown group of Fresno County elected officials and bureaucrats think they have the answer — in the form of yet another sales tax increase. Olivier op-ed in The Business Journal 

Fresno’s Gap hiring 150-200 in aftermath of Fishkill fire – In the wake of a Gap Inc. distribution center fire in Fishkill, New York, company executives are shifting operations at other centers to pick up the slack. This restructuring includes hiring between 150 and 200 new merchandise handlers at its retail distribution center in Fresno. The Business Journal article 

Visalia’s Suncrest Bank sets eyes on Fresno with $18 million acquisition – Visalia-based Suncrest Bank will acquire Fresno’s Security First Bank in a cash and stock deal valued at $18.1 million. The Business Journal article 

Sacramento Bee: Share the wealth on city’s suite — Just in time, City Hall is finishing up a policy on who gets to use the city’s luxury suite at the new downtown Sacramento arena that opens in a month. But the guidelines need retooling to make sure this precious perk doesn’t mainly benefit politicians, bureaucrats and business bigwigs, and to make sure the public knows who exactly is getting the free tickets. Sacramento Bee editorial 

Airbnb sues Santa Monica over short-term rental ban — Airbnb sued a third California city Friday, arguing that the beach town of Santa Monica violated federal laws protecting privacy and online speech. In its 22-page suit filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, the company alleges that an ordinance Santa Monica officials passed in May 2015 violates the 1stand 4th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution with a series of onerous requirements for property owners who offer short-term rentals. LA Times article 

Electricians, roofers and plumbers have their pick of jobs, and demand is expected to grow – Construction companies no longer fret over finding work. They increasingly worry about finding enough skilled workers. LA Times article 

SpaceX rocket exploded in an instant. Figuring out why involves a mountain of data – SpaceX said Friday that an investigation is underway into the cause of Thursday’s launch pad explosion that destroyed one of its rockets and a $200-million satellite. LA Times article 

Is Elon Musk trying to do too much too fast? —  If you deal in cars and rockets, you’re going to have crashes and blasts. But how many crashes and blasts before your business takes a fatal hit? That’s one of many questions facing Elon Musk, now engaged in one of the most fascinating stories in the history of business, a story playing out in real time. LA Times article 

Judge: Oakland’s proposed sugary drink tax is not aimed at grocers – Oakland’s proposed penny-an-ounce tax on sugary drinks got a boost Friday when a judge ruled that the ballot measure — despite the beverage industry’s contentions — is not a tax on grocers, because they can pass the costs along to their customers. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Tourism leaders oppose stadium, convention measures — Hotel and tourism leaders announced Friday that they will not be supporting two November hotel tax measures that they say would substantially harm the local tourism industry. San Diego Union-Tribune article 

Past decisions haunt BART as it seeks voter OK for $3.5 billion bond  — BART officials hope voters will overlook past mistakes and approve a $3.5 billion bond measure in the Nov. 8 election, something that’s been described by some as just a down payment toward all that is needed to bring the system up to what it should be. San Francisco Chronicle article


U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Water relief is on the way – if Congress works together – The California Democrat writes, “I want to avoid what happened last year, when a water bill was proposed on must-pass funding legislation – a proposal I had never reviewed, had not been vetted, and was opposed by the administration because it violated the Endangered Species Act. The only way to pass legislation and provide relief to the Central Valley is through compromise and working together.” Feinstein op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Should U.S. subsidize dairy farmers when we don’t need the milk? — With milk prices down 40 percent since 2014, Congress will be under pressure to aid dairy producers when lawmakers return from their summer break next week. It promises to spark a debate over how far the government should go to prop up an industry plagued with oversupply. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Fair deal or government giveaway? Farmers’ toxic drainage agreement nears completion — The federal government and farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley may be close to signing off on another controversial deal to clean up toxic runoff which, if left unabated, could threaten the downstream Delta. But the terms of the latest agreement are not as aggressive as the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation itself has proposed in the past under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Stockton Record article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Dylan Noble was upset with family changes, low-paying job, affidavit says — Before he was fatally shot by two Fresno police officers during a traffic stop in June, 19-year-old Dylan Noble was upset with his biological father coming back into his life and complaining about his low-pay construction job, according to search warrant documents in Fresno County Superior Court. Fresno Bee article 

Stanford’s Brock Turner serves half his sentence, freed from jail after 3 months – Protesters and a phalanx of politicians expressed outrage over the release early Friday of Brock Turner, the former Stanford swimmer convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman outside a campus fraternity party. San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article 

Dolores Canales: Easing of solitary confinement brings hope – The organizer at Legal Services for Prisoners with Children writes, “Much has changed, and there remains much to be done. But through the work of advocates, the families of inmates and, most important, prisoners who organized behind the physical and psychological walls of decades-long solitary confinement, there is no going back.” Canales op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

The fight against DUI – A Friday night in downtown Tulare or Visalia might cost the social drinker upward of $100 in drinks, food and entertainment. But for those who drink, drive and get caught, the cost of a night on the town could break the bank. With the average DUI conviction ranging anywhere between $6,500 and $27,000 for a first conviction, there’s little doubt a DUI arrest could be a very expensive ride home for the offender. And, in some parts of Tulare County, the tab starts as soon as the lights and sirens are switched on. Visalia Times-Delta article

Acting San Francisco police chief ends speculation over college degree — Acting San Francisco Police Chief Toney Chaplin earned a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University’s online Global Campus, school officials confirmed Friday, ending speculation over the acting chief’s education credentials as he vies for the position permanently. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Federal, local authorities trace Facebook threat to blow up Bush Elementary to Stockton man — Earlier this week, the United States Secret Service and the FBI coordinated with local law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of children in Stockton and apprehend a man who threatened to blow up an elementary school. Stockton Record article


New Bakersfield City School District superintendent brings change – In the first 10 days of the new school year, Bakersfield City School District’s new superintendent, Harry “Doc” Ervin, set a blistering pace.Bakersfield Californian article 

UC Davis could face furniture bill after former Chancellor Katehi departs house — If Linda P.B. Katehi takes all of her furniture when she vacates the UC Davis chancellor’s residence next month, the university will have to replace tens of thousands of dollars in sofas, chairs and other furnishings for a spacious public area used to entertain guests. Sacramento Bee article

Here’s who pays for California’s community college ‘promise’ programs – Community college promise programs in California are growing like weeds. There are 23 by one count, 16 of which were announced this year. The programs vary from campus to campus, but they all in some way cover the cost of attending community college. Some programs cover all tuition, books and even provide a laptop for the first year. Other programs cover only part of tuition and nothing else. Here’s a list to find out if there’s a promise program near you. KPCC report 

To improve student health, some California schools move to educate parents — It’s not just students that are trekking off to school for another year of learning. Many parents will be headed to class as well, as schools are ramping up their efforts to make sure they see parents more often than at the beginning of the year or back to school night. The goal isn’t to find volunteers to make copies, but to partner with parents in helping to improve student nutrition, sleep and other health habits that can impact school performance. California Health Report article 

Stockton Unified School District Public Safety Academy finally open – Lined up in formation, 120 students — or cadets — presented themselves proudly in front of their families, Stockton Unified School District administrators and members of numerous law enforcement agencies. While not all of them might follow the path into public safety careers, the newly created Stockton Public Safety Academy will groom them to be future leaders and role models in the community. Stockton Record article 

Visalia Unified connects students to community — Visalia Unified School District student projects will be on display at a Visalia Partners in Education reception geared toward connecting youth with local business members on Thursday. The hour-long event will showcase the district’s Career Pathways and Linked Learning Academies programs, which help establish a real-world connection to various career fields. Visalia Times-Delta article


U.S. and China ratify sweeping climate deal and urge other nations to follow their lead – President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping formally joined a sweeping global agreement to cut greenhouse gases Saturday, moving the world toward a dramatic reduction in climate-warming emissions on a quicker time frame than previously imagined. LA Times article; New York Times article

Cedar Fire 95 percent contained — Containment of the Cedar Fire has increased rapidly the past few days, with fire officials announcing Friday morning the wildfire was 95 percent contained and not expected to grow.  Cost to date of the blaze, which began Aug. 16, is at $49.9 million. Bakersfield Californian article

Debbie Croft: Restoring meadows and securing sustainability — In Meserve Meadow, after two years of restoration work, native grasses and plants are now lush and growing 3 to 4 feet tall. This area of Madera County is home, once again, to the thousands of ladybugs, butterflies and birds that have lately populated the area. Croft in Merced Sun-Star

Health/Human Services 

Foon Rhee: Bad news for Obamacare haters — For the legions of Obamacare haters – as well as those who rail against big government – here’s something to think about: From 2008 to 2014, the percentage of California children without health insurance was cut in half. Rhee in Sacramento Bee 

Taxpayers foot 70 percent of California’s health care tab, study finds – This year, taxpayers will cover about 70 percent of what is spent on health care in California, according to a new analysis released Wednesday by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. KQED report 

Freaking out about Zika virus? West Nile is the real killer — While the recent arrival in the U.S. of the Zika virus is getting most of the attention, public health experts consider West Nile to be a much more potent threat in California than Zika will ever be. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Dr. Carl Owada: At 15, Matthew got another chance at life – The pediatric interventional cardiologist and medical director, Pediatric Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at Valley Children’s Healthcare, writes, “There is nothing more rewarding than saving the life of a child. Take Matthew Alvarado, for example. Within hours of collapsing after water polo practice, this 15-year-old star athlete could not breathe. Pediatric cardiologists at our Willson Heart Center determined the cause was cor triatriatum, a deadly congenital heart defect normally detected shortly after birth. To make matters worse, Matthew was too ill to undergo the emergency open-heart surgery he needed.” Owada op-ed in Fresno Bee 

Workshops on managing chronic diseases available for Spanish speakers — The Merced County Department of Public Health has launched a weekly program to allow Spanish-speaking residents to discuss how chronic diseases have affected their lives and learn about improving and managing their health conditions. Merced Sun-Star article

Land Use/Housing 

Why hasn’t the owner of Summerset Village Apartments paid $290,000 he owes city of Fresno? — An oft-delayed appeal hearing about the fines levied on the owner of Summerset Village Apartments in central Fresno is now scheduled for later this month, almost a year after 1,000 residents went without hot water or heat for several weeks. Fresno Bee article 

Fresno resident says lease termination is retaliation for complaining about living conditions — A southeast Fresno woman who lives at an apartment complex featured in The Bee’s substandard housing investigation in May has until next week to move out. See Vang says the landlord is retaliating against her for talking to Bee reporters and complaining to code enforcement about her living conditions. Fresno Bee article 

HUD will rethink veto of San Francisco’s preference housing law — The Department of Housing and Urban Development said Friday it will reconsider its rejection of San Francisco’s neighborhood preference housing law, which local officials are pushing as a tool to help low-income residents stay in the city at a time of rising rents and rampant gentrification. San Francisco Chronicle article


New satellite-based air traffic control system ready for takeoff in the crowded skies of Southern California —  As soon as November, Southern Californians may see jets and planes coming and going in parts of the sky where aircraft seldom flew, after the Federal Aviation Administration’s announcement Friday that it is ready to replace its aging air traffic control system in the region  with new satellite-based procedures. LA Times article 

Other areas 

Merced Sun-Star: Opinski, Jones must quit board positions without delay – The next few months are going to be incredibly demanding and difficult for Greg Opinski and Tommy Jones. The school boards they sit on shouldn’t have to share those burdens. Both should quit now and save voters the trouble of recalling them. Merced Sun-Star editorial 

Supervisor Kelsey has failing attendance record – Deidre Kelsey, the elected supervisor for Merced County District 4, has missed or skipped out early from half of the twice-monthly Board of Supervisors meetings held this year, the worst attendance record of any of the five officials. Merced Sun-Star article 

Jill Simonian: Summer’s premier vacation spot? Fresno – The Fresno resident and current Parenting Lifestyle Expert for CBS Los Angeles writes, “It’s official: Summer is over. I’m actually really bummed about it. What did three Southern California women set out to conquer the second school let out back in June? Disneyland, Malibu, Manhattan Beach and more! Oh, and Fresno. One of these places trumped all the rest… and proved something big I’ve had strong hunches about for a long time.” Simonian op-ed in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian Without an infusion of cash, California’s anti-smoking efforts and treatment may plateau, or even worse reverse. Californians should vote YES on Prop. 56 to maintain and expand the state’s anti-smoking and treatment programs.

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – The next few months are going to be incredibly demanding and difficult for Greg Opinski and Tommy Jones. The school boards they sit on shouldn’t have to share those burdens. Both should quit now and save voters the trouble of recalling them.

Modesto Bee – The next few months are going to be incredibly demanding and difficult for Greg Opinski and Tommy Jones. The school boards they sit on shouldn’t have to share those burdens. Both should quit now and save voters the trouble of recalling them.

Sacramento Bee – Just in time, City Hall is finishing up a policy on who gets to use the city’s luxury suite at the new downtown Sacramento arena that opens in a month. But the guidelines need retooling to make sure this precious perk doesn’t mainly benefit politicians, bureaucrats and business bigwigs, and to make sure the public knows who exactly is getting the free tickets.