September 30, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Brown’s veto blocks tighter oversight of school money for poor kids – It was not surprising that Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 2548, despite its unanimous, bipartisan passage. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State-managed retirement plan becomes reality with Brown’s signature – Saying it offers the promise of retirement security for millions of Californians, Gov. Jerry Brown signed sweeping legislation Thursday that creates a state-managed savings programfor private-sector workers without one. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleKQED report

Valley politics

Brand, Perea spar over how to spend Fresno’s $70 million in cap-and-trade money – The news that the City of Fresno is set to receive up to $70 million from the state in the form of cap-and-trade funding is the latest issue in the Fresno mayor’s race. Mayoral candidates Lee Brand and Henry Perea offered opposing visions of how to spend the money during a debate last night that focused on issue of downtown revitalization. KVPR report

Local races heat up on stage — Five candidates seeking two Visalia council seats gave their opinions on the proposed Measure N, homelessness, transportation and roads and economic development during a candidates’ forum Thursday night. Visalia Times-Delta article

Fant’s request to remove D.A. denied — Stockton City Council Candidate Sam Fant, who is facing a felony election fraud charge, suffered a legal setback Thursday when a judge rejected his request to have the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office removed from the case. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

California death penalty propositions 62 and 66: Condemned inmates, victims’ families speak out – Supporters of capital punishment are seeking a no vote on Proposition 62, which would abolish the death penalty in California, and a yes vote on Proposition 66, which would keep the death penalty and aims to speed up an appeals process that often drags on for decades. Opponents of capital punishment call Proposition 66’s vision of faster, more efficient appeals a fantasy and warn that the measure could cost the state tens of millions of dollars a year to implement if voters endorse it. San Jose Mercury News article

California ballot measure spending headed for a record – Supporters and opponents of California’s 17 November ballot measures have raised nearly $390 million six weeks before the election, putting the state about $85 million shy of record initiative fundraising with some of the heaviest spending yet to come. AP article

List of California ballot measures with most funding – Supporters and opponents of California’s 17 November ballot measures have raised nearly $390 million six weeks before the election, according to reports filed by political donors with the secretary of state’s office before a Thursday campaign reporting deadline. Here are the five California ballot measures that have attracted the most funding so far, along with the biggest donors for and against. AP article

Sacramento Bee: ‘No’ on Prop 65, ‘yes’ on Prop 67 to ban plastic bags – Vote “no” on Proposition 65 and “yes” on Proposition 67. Got it? “No” on the first plastic bag measure, then “yes” on the second one. Sacramento Bee editorial

Gavin Newsom duels with Olympic shooter over gun control initiative — After winning a sixth Olympic medal at the Rio Games this summer, skeet shooter Kim Rhode is taking on a new opponent: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. Rhode, an outspoken critic of California’s gun control laws, participated this week in a web ad against the ammunition regulations proposed in Newsom’s Proposition 63, leading to a testy social media exchange. Sacramento Bee article

Party lines got a little fuzzier in Legislature’s 2015-16 session — Many faces have changed, but much about the California Legislature remains the same as a decade ago: Lawmakers consider thousands of bills and other measures, which frequently pass or fail strictly along party lines. But those lines were notably fuzzier in the just-completed session compared with a decade ago, legislative voting records show. Sacramento Bee article

 Loretta Sanchez dismisses Gabby Giffords’ endorsement of Kamala Harris — U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez dismissed Kamala Harris’ endorsement from a celebrated gun-control advocate on Thursday, accusing the state’s top law enforcement official of prioritizing a lavish campaign schedule over helping bring down the crime rate. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

Single-user public bathrooms will be all-gender in California – Forget the men’s room and the women’s room – gender will no longer matter when using single-stall public bathrooms in California. Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed legislation that will require restrooms for single users to be designated all-gender, California’s latest move to bolster transgender rights even as much of the country moves in the opposite direction. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article 

California will restrict asset seizures by police – Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed legislation limiting the civil asset forfeiture process that allows police to seize property from suspected criminals. Senate Bill 443 will require California law enforcement agencies to obtain convictions in order to keep property taken during criminal investigations even when working jointly with federal authorities that do not share that obligation. Sacramento Bee article

Jerry Brown again vetoes union-backed restrictions on paid signature gatherers – A union-backed effort to change the signature-gathering process for ballot initiatives was turned away again by Gov. Jerry Brown, who argued in a veto message Thursday that the bill would do little to lessen the grip of powerful interests. Sacramento Bee article

More California cities can have publicly financed election campaigns – Handing a victory to campaign finance reformers, Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed legislation that will allow more California cities and counties to permit publicly financed election campaigns.  Sacramento Bee article

Voters in Sacramento, other counties to cast ballots in center’ instead of neighborhood in 2018 – Gov. Jerry Brown, clearing the way for Sacramento and several other counties to hold all-mail elections in two years, signed legislation Thursday that allows for the consolidation of neighborhood polling places into new vote centers. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

California is removing all limits on who can drop off your ballot on election day – Californians will be able to legally hand off their sealed ballot to anyone to mail or deliver in person under a new law signed Thursday. LA Times article

More transparency is coming to California’s scandal-ridden energy regulator, and Gov. Brown has pledged more action – Changes to increase the transparency of communications between the state’s energy regulator and the industries it oversees are now law after Gov. Jerry Brown signed five measures designed to restructure the California Public Utilities Commission. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Few new rules on the use of drones as governor rejects ‘piecemeal’ approach to regulation – In a win for lobbying efforts in a budding industry, California has made it through another year with few limits on drones in its skies.  Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed legislation that protects emergency responders and volunteers from liability should they damage a drone in the course of their work. But he vetoed the last four pending drone bills, saying he found it “more prudent to explore a more comprehensive approach” to the regulation of unmanned aircraft systems. LA Times article

Californians will soon be allowed to take selfies with their completed ballots – Ballot selfies soon will be legal in California under a law the governor signed Thursday that permits voters to photograph their completed ballots. Residents hoping to take a selfie with their vote in the upcoming presidential election are out of luck, however. The bill will go into effect Jan. 1, after the national election in November. LA Times article

California Gov. Jerry Brown signs a bill that boosts protection for surviving spouses against foreclosure – California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed a bill that’s designed to give widows and widowers a better shot at saving their homes when they fall behind on mortgage payments. LA Times article

Bill Whalen: Climate change is crucial, but so is pension reform – If Brown were to get serious about pension reform, the first call should be to David Crane. A former Schwarzenegger adviser and UC regent, Crane is as close as California comes to a Diogenes on pension reform. For years now he’s sought nonpartisan, courageous lawmakers. It seems reasonable enough: If our governors can take curtain calls for turning back the tides, surely we can improve the climate under the Capitol dome. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Luis Medina: AB 1066: What you did not hear from Fong and Sanders – Medina, who has a background in construction management and real estate development, writes, “We live in a country that was founded under one, of many, critical principles: That all men are created equal. The concept of equality also applies to labor force considerations. As such, a subset of the labor force has been discriminately affected in overtime labor remuneration. The remedy to same is Assembly Bill 1066. Medina op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Sarah Silverman and other comedians launch a voter registration tour, thanks to Tom Steyer — California billionaire and climate change activist Tom Steyer is taking his quest to register young voters to California college campuses, and he is bringing some famous friends along. LA Times article

Public comment period extended for Political Reform Act Revision project — The California Fair Political Practices Commission is extending the public comment period for the first draft revision of California’s venerable Political Reform Act until October 31.  California Forward report

News Stories –Top Stories

Yosemite chief retiring amid complaints of hostile workplace — The head of Yosemite National Park is retiring after employees complained that he created a hostile workplace by allowing bullying, harassment and other misconduct, allegations also raised in other popular national parks, officials said Thursday. AP articleLA Times article

Realtors: California home prices and sales expected to rise next year – The California housing market is expected to grow increasingly unaffordable next year, driving would-be home buyers away from high-cost coastal regions and toward the more inexpensive inland stretches of the state, according to an industry forecast. LA Times article

Central Valley leading California’s housing growth – The Central Valley is leading California’s housing growth thanks to high affordability. The trend is expected to continue next year with the Valley to see a moderate increase in home sales and prices outperforming coastal cities where skyrocketing prices have caused affordability to plummet, according to the 2017 California Housing Market Forecast released by the California Association of Realtors on Thursday. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

By the numbers: Monthly home sales – August in the central San Joaquin Valley saw a slight overall rise for existing homes in the number sold and average median price, but new home sales were fairly stagnant. Fresno Bee article

Registered nurses, San Joaquin General reach contract agreement – Registered nurses at San Joaquin General and the San Joaquin County Health Service Agency have ratified a new contract that runs through Dec. 31, 2018, according to the California Nurses Association. The contract includes not only raises for the nurses, but workplace protections, the association said Thursday. Stockton Record article

Ken Carlson: Will Stanislaus Taxpayers Association oppose the countywide road tax? – The Stanislaus Taxpayers Association has not taken a stance on the countywide transportation tax measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. For Measure L to pass, the “no” votes can’t be a decimal above 33 percent. So the opinion of the taxpayers association carries some weight, one reason that proponents have tried to get them on board with the half-percent sales tax, said Eric Reimer, the association’s treasurer. Modesto Bee article

The state will cover $250 million in costs if LA’s Olympics bid goes over budget — California will provide up to $250 million in guarantees should the city of Los Angeles go over budget in its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games and Paralympic Games under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown signed Thursday morning.  LA Times article

Original Tahoe Joe’s in Fresno has closed — The original Tahoe Joe’s Famous Steakhouse has closed. The restaurant near Shaw and Marks avenues was the first Tahoe Joe’s opened by Fresno restauranteur Dave Fansler in 1995. Fresno Bee article

As Las Vegas deal implodes, Techno Stadium Lite might keep Raiders in Oakland – Well, it’s been a good week for those of us who want to see the Raiders’ stadium deal in Las Vegas implode. Sacramento Bee article

Gallo rates high for worker morale – E.&J. Gallo Winery ranked high for “company culture” in an employee survey conducted by a national recruitment website. Modesto Bee article

Pastors rally for struggling Fresno African-American newspaper — The best place to communicate with Fresno’s African American community is in the pages of its newspaper, The California Advocate, said Publisher Mark Kimber. Kimber, along with six pastors, spoke in support of the African American newspaper, which is struggling financially, at a news conference at the newspaper’s office on Thursday morning. Fresno Bee article

Local banks merge – Valley Commerce Bancorp and CVB Financial Corp announced last week they have entered into a merger agreement, where CVB Financial Corp will gain Valley Commerce Bancorp, the holding company for Valley Business Bank with $416 million in assets. Visalia Times-Delta article

Amazon Lockers popping up in Sacramento — Clad in bright yellow orange with names such as Bram, Dottie, Amanda and Delaney, Seattle-based Inc.’s latest expansion in the Sacramento area has been showing up in Safeway supermarkets and other retail sites. They’re Amazon Lockers, self-service customer pick-up sites that let online shoppers retrieve Amazon orders at their convenience in a secure setting. Sacramento Bee article

Deputies union warns attorney suit could be a ‘scam’ – The union that represents Kern County sheriff’s deputies has warned its members to stay away from a Newport Coast attorney who was herded out of a Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday by security after threatening a lawsuit over public safety pay. Bakersfield Californian article

Naomi Judd teaches life lessons at Women’s Business Conference – Naomi Judd didn’t waste any time warming up to the crowd at the Bakersfield Women’s Business Conference on Thursday. Bakersfield Californian article

BennettFrost announces closure; clients, employees transitioning to Ultimate Staffing — Cathy Frost has announced her retirement and the subsequent closure of BennettFrost Personnel Services in Fresno. Frost, the president of the 24-year-old staffing company, said the closure is bittersweet because she will miss her employees and clients, but she is looking forward to spending more time with her six grandkids. The Business Journal article

Contra Costa County workers to strike Friday — Contra Costa County Employment and Human Services Department employees on Friday will begin a three-day strike to protest alleged unfair labor practices. East Bay Times article

Wells Fargo to pay $24.1 million for improper repossession of servicemembers’ cars — The reputation of Wells Fargo & Co. took another blow Thursday when it agreed to pay $24 million for the improper repossession of cars owned by members of the U.S. military. LA Times article

Congress members question whether SpaceX should conduct its own investigation — Ten Republican Congress members led by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) have sent a letter to the heads of the Air Force, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration questioning whether SpaceX should be allowed to lead its own investigation into a Sept. 1 launch pad explosion that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and a communications satellite. LA Times article


Sacramento Bee: Stop the groundwater grab – What’s needed are tough, meaningful pumping restrictions, now, not years down the line. State lawmakers need to summon the backbone to revisit Wolk’s proposal and stop this agricultural water grab. Sacramento Bee editorial

When some Clovis residents turn on faucets, out comes discolored water – Clovis officials said Thursday that they have had reports of discolored water from residents in areas served by the city’s water treatment plant. The facility, which was shut down for the fall and winter months on Thursday, in recent weeks has been supplying about half of Clovis with water, said Scott Redelfs, assistant public utilities director. Fresno Bee article

California plans to restrict pesticide use near schools — A proposed ruling announced this week would limit the time growers across the state will be able to spray pesticides within a quarter mile of schools and day care centers from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. This is all part of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation’s plan to keep kids safe. KVPR reportLA Times article

Goleta to stop ‘Law & Order’ creator from selling water to neighboring cities — Wolf’s 780-acre Slippery Rock Ranch is perched in the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains on an aquifer. The ranch has said it wants to extract water and sell it to cities such as Montecito, Carpinteria and Santa Barbara, according to court documents. The Goleta Water District sued to stop any such exports, claiming that the ranch’s aquifer is connected to the Goleta Groundwater Basin, which the district owns rights to and is located just a few miles south. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Stockton mayor declares way on gangs, calls for private security – Mayor Anthony Silva Thursday outlined a nine-step plan to curb gang violence and seek justice for a 3-year-old girl killed by gunfire last weekend.  Called “Operation: Justice for Melanie,” the plan includes hiring professional private security with military background to patrol troubled neighborhoods in east and south Stockton and for the city to double the amount of security cameras. Stockton Record article

Michael Fitzgerald: Lights, camera, fight crime! – No outrage (no matter how powerful), no eulogy (no matter how eloquent), no service (no matter how cathartic) will stop a problem like Stockton’s gun violence. A problem like that is structural, like a badly designed factory that cranks out a broken product. Fixing the product does not solve the problem. Only fixing the factory will. The question is whether we have the political will, the social conscience and the leadership. As for leadership: in the mayor’s office, no. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Former Bakersfield detective accuses drug unit of widespread corruption – A former Bakersfield Police Detective is accusing the department of widespread and shocking misconduct in a multi-county drug enforcement unit. Detective Damacio Diaz is alleging a lengthy series of problems in a federal court filing released Thursday. KVPR reportBakersfield Californian article

Realignment 5 years on: Counties build jails for inmates with mental illness — Many sheriffs say they don’t choose the inmates they receive, and a lot of jail renovation and construction projects are now geared toward improving conditions for an increasing number of mentally ill inmates. KVPR report

Man convicted of causing Cedar Fire, sentenced to 13 months – A man from Mexico was convicted Thursday of causing the Cedar Fire, which burned about 29,000 acres of national forest land and at least six residences in Kern and Tulare counties. Bakersfield Californian articleThe Business Journal articleFresno Bee articleVisalia Times-Delta articleLA Times article

After arrests of 14-year-old girls, police warn social media threats are felonies – Local school district superintendents and Fresno police are urging parents to monitor their children’s social media use after several empty threats against schools this week have led to the arrests of two 14-year-old girls. Fresno Bee article

Kerman boys arrested after Facebook threat posted – Kerman police arrested two boys late Wednesday night in connection with a threat of violence that was supposed to take place Thursday at Kerman High School.  Fresno Bee article

Salazar: ‘… larger than life’ – The moment you put on a uniform, you not only gain confidence, you gain a brotherhood. A family. Jay Salazar was a career uniform man. First in the US Army and then for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department. It didn’t matter the patch on the uniform or the color, on Thursday, hundreds of people came to pay their respects. Visalia Times-Delta article

Hate crimes in LA County jumped in 2015, report says – The incidents are among 483 hate crimes reported in Los Angeles County last year, according to an annual report released Thursday by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations. After generally trending downward for seven years, hate crimes rose sharply last year and were up 24% from 2014. LA Times article

El Cajon police shooting sparks battle over release of video –Designed to deal with those pressures, San Diego County’s policy was an attempt to balance public transparency with the needs of investigators to collect interviews and evidence. It said video generally would be made public, but only after the District Attorney’s office had completed its investigation. But the pioneering guidelines are facing new scrutiny this week as San Diego County deals with a real-life test: The controversial killing of a black man by El Cajon police. LA Times article

U.S. tried twice to deport Ugandan refugee slain by police near San Diego — U.S. authorities tried twice to deport the unarmed black man fatally shot by police in a San Diego suburb, but his native Uganda refused to take him, resulting in his release. AP article

One result of police violence: Fewer 911 calls from blacks — A new study points to a possible link between mistrust of police officers and a community’s reluctance to report crimes. New York Times article

Why the ‘Celeste Guap’ scandal isn’t only about her – Despite the resignations and reprimands and coming prosecutions, none of the agencies involved have said publicly whether other victims have surfaced during their internal investigations. KQED report

Local agencies off Lunch with a Cop — Getting to know local law enforcement officers can be as easy as having a cup of coffee or taking in a plate of barbecued ribs. Earlier this year, local area law enforcement agencies took part in the national Coffee with a Cop initiative, which aims to help improve relationships between officers and citizens through casual meet and greets instead of waiting to interact with them only during emergencies or emotional situations. Hanford Sentinel article


‘Finish in Four’ is new mantra for California State University – A pledge to take 15 units a semester, signed by freshmen when they first arrive on campus. New sections of popular courses, like anatomy and statistics. Roaming advisers with tablets, ready to talk about class schedules outside dorms and football games. Will efforts like these get students through college on time? Sacramento State is banking on it as it undertakes an ambitious effort to more than triple its four-year graduation rate over the next decade. Sacramento Bee article

Planada community iffy on school staff carrying guns — Planada parents and community members present for a meeting on campus security this week voiced preference for updating school procedures and focusing on violence prevention rather than allowing school administrators to carry guns. Merced Sun-Star article

Calling on cell phones to bridge early reading divide — Four Stanislaus County school districts have banded together, joining a select few across the nation to implement an early literacy program they believe will be a gamechanger. The key: It puts strategic reading games on parents’ cell phones. Modesto Bee article

Preschool teachers’ implicit bias impacts black boys most, study says — Preschool teachers look for disruptive behavior where they expect it — and they expect it most from black boys, new research from the Yale Child Study Center suggests. EdSource article

Controversial group that supports charter schools announces grants to replicate strong LA Unified campuses – A group that was spawned from a controversial plan for rapid charter-school growth announced Wednesday that it would fund grants to incubate new campuses run by the Los Angeles Unified School DistrictLA Times article


‘Extensive’ toxic algae bloom found in south Delta – Tests have confirmed the presence of toxic cyanobacteria — also known as “blue-green algae” — in south Delta waterways, state officials said Thursday. Stockton Record article

California earthquake early warning system gets boost — Saying it could “potentially save lives,” Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed legislation to expedite California’s development of a system to provide advance warning of earthquakes. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Official: Giant solar proposal poised for growth — Due to friendly state policies pushing more renewable energy, a massive solar park proposed for Kings County appears ready for expansion. That’s according to Daniel Kim, a spokesman for Westlands Solar Park. Hanford Sentinel article

Capsized Spirit of Sacramento drained, en route to Sausalito — The 87-foot paddlewheel boat Spirit of Sacramento that capsized Sept. 4 is en route Thursday afternoon from the Bethel Island area to Sausalito. Sacramento Bee article


With Rosedale widened, eyes turn to 24th – Local, city and county officials were facing away from downtown when they cut the ribbon on the Rosedale Highway widening Thursday, which expanded it from four lanes to six from Calloway Drive to just east of Gibson Street and added a center median. Bakersfield Californian article

New $148-million connector at LAX improves passenger access between domestic and international terminals — For years, making many flight connections at Los Angeles International Airport has required a walk outside the terminal or a shuttle bus ride, as well as re-screening at a security checkpoint.  LAX officials say a new $148.5-million passenger facility that opened Thursday will end those inconveniences for many passengers. LA Times article

Alaska Airlines to fly only nonstop flights from LA to Cuba — Alaska Airlines, which is aiming to become the dominant carrier on the West Coast with its planned acquisition of Virgin America, will begin offering the only daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Havana starting Jan. 5. LA Times article

Other areas

Joe Mathews: Vin Scully shows us the right way into retirement — If only more Californians could retire like Vin Scully. The Los Angeles Dodgers announcer calls his last game Sunday against the Giants, a month shy of his 89th birthday. His retirement has occasioned a national celebration of Scully’s play-by-play mastery through 67 years. But what deserves more attention – including from Californians who don’t care about sports – is the smart, progressive way he planned his retirement. Mathews in Fresno Bee

Jury selection can be lengthy, at times amusing process — On Thursday, a jury of 12 men and women, plus four alternates, was empaneled for a murder trial set to begin next week. During voir dire — where potential jurors are questioned by the judge and attorneys — a number of potential jurors were dismissed, some for cause, more through peremptory challenges,which allow attorneys to dismiss someone without giving a reason. One potential alternate immediately made it clear he would not be fair or impartial. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Sacramento Bee – What’s needed are tough, meaningful pumping restrictions, now, not years down the line. State lawmakers need to summon the backbone to revisit Wolk’s proposal and stop this agricultural water grab; Vote “no” on Proposition 65 and “yes” on Proposition 67. Got it? “No” on the first plastic bag measure, then “yes” on the second one