September 4, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

Jerry Brown heads into gubernatorial debate with large lead over Neel Kashkari – As Gov. Jerry Brown and Neel Kashkari prepare for their first – and likely only – debate Thursday, Kashkari has a problem that goes beyond anything that might happen on stage: Many Californians still don’t know who he is. Two months before Election Day, less than 60 percent of likely voters have an opinion of Kashkari, according to a new Field Poll, and the Republican trails Brown by 16 percentage points.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley politicians promote water bond to voters – The California Latino Water Coalition gave thanks Wednesday to a wide array of individuals — most notably a bipartisan group of state lawmakers — for their roles in forging a $7.5 billion water bond that will go to voters in November.  Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Brown, Kashkari prepare for gubernatorial debate – Gov. Jerry Brown doesn’t have much on the line as he faces his Republican challenger in the only gubernatorial debate scheduled so far this election season.  AP articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

John Myers: Jerry Brown-Neel Kashkari debate: A viewer’s guide from ringside – Three journalists, including me, will ask the questions. Neither candidate will see any of the questions or topics in advance, and only a few others besides the three of us — Dunia Elvir of Telemundo 52 and Jim Newton of the Los Angeles Times — have been working on the content. That’s as it should be. Debates aren’t a legitimate look at someone’s qualifications for a big job like governor if candidates can’t be prepared for anything that might come their way. Here’s what I’m looking for…  Myers in KQED

Tesla likely a key topic in gubernatorial debate – Tesla’s decision to choose Nevada for its planned $5 billion battery factory is all but certain to play out Thursday evening in the one-and-only televised gubernatorial campaign debate between Jerry Brown and Neel Kashkari.  Capitol Weekly article

Neel Kashkari rips Jerry Brown’s ties to California Teachers Association – In a lengthy video released on the eve of their first – and likely only – debate, Republican Neel Kashkari attacked Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday for his ties to the California Teachers Association and appeal of a court ruling that found the state’s teacher dismissal rules unconstitutional.  Capitol AlertLA Times article

George Skelton: A bleak future for California GOP unless it retools – The big picture keeps getting bleaker for the California Republican Party. Young voters aren’t joining. Neither are Latinos and moderates. Elderly white conservatives dominate the shrinking state GOP. And they don’t offer much of a future.  Skelton column in LA Times

State schools superintendent candidate tours Fresno schools – Marshall Tuck brought his campaign for state superintendent of public instruction to Fresno on Wednesday, rolling into town in a black bus sporting slogans like “it’s time for change” painted along its side — a mantra Tuck has been pushing for months as he goes head-to-head with incumbent Tom Torlakson for the state’s top education seat in November.  Fresno Bee article

Sen. Barbara Boxer stars in ad for medical malpractice initiative –  U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) emerged as a forceful spokeswoman for an initiative to raise some medical malpractice awards in the state, appearing Wednesday in supporters’ first campaign ad. LA Times article

Proposition 47 eases criminal charges; stirs little reaction – Everyone keeps waiting for the backlash, the pulpit pounding, the outrage. Proposition 47, an initiative on the state ballot, will soften criminal charges for nonviolent crimes, like petty theft and drug possession. Instead of a felony, those crimes will be misdemeanors.  San Francisco Chronicle article


Report: Immigrants contribute $650 billion to California economy – Immigrants contribute about 31 percent to California’s gross domestic product, and 26 percent to the gross domestic product of San Diego and Imperial counties, according to a new report from the University of Southern California and advocacy group California Immigrant Policy Center.  KPBS report

Illegal immigrants more likely to have lived in U.S. for more than a decade – The number of immigrants living illegally in the United States has leveled off in recent years, but those who remain are more likely to have far deeper ties to the country than they did a decade ago, according to a report released Wednesday.  Washington Post article

Lemoore council strikes anti-immigrant resolution – Following a heated discussion, the Lemoore City Council struck down a proposed ordinance Tuesday aimed at taking a local stance on what one councilman is calling a “national immigration crisis.”  Hanford Sentinel article

Other areas

California mayors urge Gov. Brown to sign gun control bill – A group representing 69 California mayors, including Los Angeles’ Eric Garcetti, sent a letter Wednesday to Gov. Jerry Brown, urging him to sign legislation that would make it easier to temporarily remove guns from individuals believed to be dangerous.  LA Times article

West Sacramento council moves to limit where guns can be sold in city – The West Sacramento City Council tentatively approved an ordinance Wednesday night limiting where guns can be sold in the city. The ordinance passed its first reading 3-0 to move over-the-counter sales of firearms and ammunition out of the city’s central business district and other commercial zones to outlying areas zoned for business parks and industrial uses.  Sacramento Bee article

Sen. Rod Wright’s sentencing hearing gets delayed, again – A Los Angeles judge on Wednesday granted a fourth delay in the sentencing hearing for suspended state Sen. Rod Wright, who was found guilty in January of eight felonies for lying about where he lived when he ran for office in 2008.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleDan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Most Californians usually end up disliking the president – no matter who he is – Barack Obama this week joined a long list of recent presidents who lost the approval of most California residents. Only three presidents — Kennedy, LBJ and Reagan — have garnered approval ratings above 50 percent from Californians throughout their presidency, according to the Field Poll.  Sacramento Bee article

Strong mayor campaign gets labor support, $100,000 donation from Tsakopoulos – An old friend and an old foe have thrown their support behind Kevin Johnson’s strong mayor effort. The Sacramento-Sierra Building Trades & Construction Council, a coalition of more than two dozen unions, announced Wednesday it was supporting Johnson’s November ballot measure that would increase the powers held by the mayor’s office.  Sacramento Bee article

San Francisco proposal would keep buffer zone about abortion clinics – San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Supervisor Malia Cohen later this month will introduce legislation modeled on a new law in Massachusetts that attempts to preserve a buffer zone in front of clinics that offer abortion and other reproductive services, despite a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking such zones down.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Obama administration officials endorse reforms in bulk collection of intelligence – Two top Obama administration officials this week endorsed proposed reforms in the intelligence community’s bulk collection of data on Americans. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper wrote to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Tuesday expressing support for reforms that go beyond a measure passed by the House in May that disappointed civil libertarians.  LA Times article

Feinstein: Islamic State ‘will come after us’ – The United States has no choice but to confront militants seeking to establish an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq, Sen. Dianne Feinstein told a Silicon Valley group Wednesday, calling the fighters “totally evil.”  San Francisco Chronicle article

Senate control may turn on who’s more unloved, Obama or GOP – Whether the Democrats can keep the game close to the end, or whether the Republicans will build an even larger advantage, turns on one big question about the national environment: Is 2014 a fairly neutral year in which Republicans hold an edge because races are mainly being fought in Republican-held states, or is it also a bad year for Democrats, who might face a “wave” election like the ones that brought Democrats to power in 2006 and swept them away in 2010?  New York Times article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Nearly 1 in 10 California workers are here illegally, survey finds – A report released Wednesday by researchers at USC found that immigrants who are in California illegally make up nearly 10% of the state’s workforce and contribute $130 billion annually to its gross domestic product.  LA Times article

PG&E to appeal $1.4 billion penalty for San Bruno blast – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will appeal a $1.4 billion penalty that two state regulatory judges imposed for more than 3,700 safety violations leading up to the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion, the company said Wednesday.  San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Tesla reportedly chooses Nevada for big factory; California falls short – California’s quest to land Tesla Motors Inc.’s giant battery factory has apparently fallen short amid reports the company has chosen Nevada as the site. CNBC, quoting anonymous sources in the office of Gov. Brian Sandoval, said Wednesday the Palo Alto electric car manufacturer has chosen Nevada for the 6,500-employee factory.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleKQED report

Report: Online job ads surge in California in August – California saw a surge in online job postings in August, according to the latest statistics released by the Conference Board, the New York-based global business research group.  Sacramento Bee article

California trails Texas in exports and related jobs, report finds – California is home to the busiest port complex in the country and the largest manufacturing center, but where exports are concerned, it’s neither the heaviest mover nor the top employer.  LA Times article

Fresno exports hit record $3.1 billion – New data by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows merchandise exports from the Fresno area increased 17 percent in 2013. According to data from the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, exports of merchandise from the Fresno metropolitan area totaled a record $3.1 billion in 2013. That’s up from $2.66 billion the year before.  The Business Journal article

Amazon, USPS bring Sunday package delivery to central San Joaquin Valley – Even as the U.S. Postal Service presses to do away with delivering mail on Saturdays, Fresno residents will begin seeing postal workers bearing packages and roaming their neighborhoods on Sundays starting this weekend. Amazon, the online megaretailer, is partnering with the Postal Service for its carriers to provide Sunday delivery of orders to customers.  Fresno Bee article

Wall raising signals Stockton industrial revival – Walls being raised at a 257,000-square-foot warehouse in south Stockton are a sure sign the industrial real estate market is bouncing back, the developer and area officials said Wednesday.  Stockton Record article

Fast-food workers in LA and other cities strike for $15-an-hour pay – Restaurant workers are planning to walk off the job Thursday at fast-food chains, including Burger King and McDonald’s in the Southland, to demand a pay bump to $15 an hour, organizers said.  LA Times article

August auto sales reach an 11-year high – Consumers streamed into auto dealers last month, pushing industry sales to their highest level for an August in 11 years. Chrysler, Ford, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Hyundai all posted gains while General Motors and Volkswagen saw sales slip, according to monthly figures reported Wednesday.  LA Times article

Tulare hospital bonds taken off ‘negative’ credit watch – Fitch Ratings, a global credit rating and research firm, has taken a 2007 bond issue by the Tulare Local Health Care District off its negative watch list.  Fresno Bee article

Local restaurateurs mixed on new dog dining law – Dog-owners can look forward to spending even more quality time with their favorite pets as a new California law has opened the door for pet dogs in outdoor dining areas. The law does not take effect until next year but local restaurant groups are already planning ahead.  The Business Journal article

Restaurant and childcare under construction off Highway 186 in Clovis – A 7,020-square-foot building is under construction between the highway and McDonald’s in the Sunrise Pavilion Shopping Center, at Alluvial and Temperance Avenues. You’ll recognize this center with a large sign that says technology business park on the top. About 3,800 square feet of the building will be home to the Clovis Hofbrau restaurant. The other portion of the building is available for lease, according to Commercial Retail Associates, the Fresno commercial brokerage firm that handled the restaurant lease.  Fresno Bee article

Drone’s video footage shows progress of Apple’s ‘spaceship’ campus – A new video on YouTube is giving the public a preview of Apple Inc.’s new spaceship-like campus under construction in Cupertino.  LA Times article

Department pays big bucks to short-term employee – Here’s state employment for you: After working less than a month for the California Department of Aging, executive Monica Rea left her job – and then Aging was required to pay tens of thousands of dollars to cash out her backed-up leave time.  Sacramento Bee article


California drought sends hay prices soaring – The cost of feeding horses and cows in California is climbing as the drought sends hay prices to historic highs, a newspaper reported. Less rain has reduced the acres of oats, barley and wheat being planted, which has fueled a sharp jump in hay prices, the Press-Democrat of Santa Rosa reported on Tuesday.  AP article

Growers donate fruit to families going hungry in drought – Despite suffering drought-related hardship of its own, a coalition of Central Valley growers and businesses has donated more than $100,000 in produce to food banks assisting families affected by the drought.  Bakersfield Californian article

‘First Look’: Drought not just a concern for humans; wildlife included – The Pacific Flyway is a major north-south flyway for migratory birds in America, extending from Alaska to the Patagonia in South America. The Central Valley is a really important rest stop along that super highway and if birds don’t have enough water when they stop here, they don’t have enough nourishment to continue and it breaks the migratory chain.  Bakersfield Californian article

Water conservation urged at Bakersfield College forum – A chemistry professor, an industrial drawing major, and elected officials called on students to save water, and their fellow politicians to put people before fish, at a Bakersfield College forum Wednesday.  Bakersfield Californian article

Tulare City Council confirms drought surcharge – Starting Oct. 1, Tulare residents can expect their water bills to include an additional $1.36 on the flat portion and .0663 monthly on every 1,000 gallons used by consumers.  Visalia Times-Delta article

Groundwater bills stirring concern – Rod Burkett hasn’t seen the trio of California Assembly and Senate bills establishing a system to control the amount of groundwater that farmers across the state can draw from their wells. But Burkett, who grows olives and citrus on his 130-acres of farmland north of Porterville, said the state government regulating his groundwater is a recipe for problems.  Visalia Times-Delta article

California drought snapshot: Snowless Mount Shasta – Today those venturing to the mountaintop (elevation 14,162 or 14,179 or 14,180 feet, depending on who you believe) are greeted by bare rocky slopes. That “one grand landmark” — California’s version of Mount Fuji, which I’m eager to catch sight of each time I head up the Sacramento Valley — is comparatively invisible now until you’re almost on top of it. KQED report

California olive producers seek new rules to compete with imports – There’s a war over your salad dressing, and the front line has been drawn in California. The Golden State is considering first-of-its-kind grading standards for olive oil that could have far-reaching consequences for the $5.4-billion global industry.  LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Lodi seeking new grant funding to battle gang problem – Hundreds of thousands of dollars in state grant funding that has helped Lodi successfully combat gang violence since 2012 is scheduled to run out at the end of the year. After being rejected last year, the city has a Friday deadline to submit a second application for Gang Reduction Intervention and Prevention grants that would pay for increased patrols and other youth-based programs through 2017.  Stockton Record article

Coalinga considers putting unused, costly jail up for sale – Three years after the Claremont Custody Center in Coalinga closed, city officials are weary of the growing financial burden and are considering selling the jail. The City Council will take up the issue tonight.  Fresno Bee article

Latest homicide pushed Stockton past last year’s total – A community besieged by violence in recent years hit an alarming benchmark early Wednesday when a man was shot to death outside a north Stockton bar, giving the city more homicides in 2014 than in 2013. Stockton Record article

The race gap in America’s police departments – In hundreds of police departments across the country, the percentage of whites on the force is more than 30 percentage points higher than in the communities they serve, according to an analysis of a government survey of police departments. New York Times article


College bill heads to governor – A bill allowing California’s community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees is moving closer to become a reality. Both College of the Sequoias and West Hills College Lemoore administrators are interested in the potential of the bill and intend to apply this fall for the pilot program, if the bill is approved by Gov. Jerry Brown. Hanford Sentinel article

Modesto High music teacher strikes a chord using online fundraising campaign – Modesto High School’s music program, where Frank Mancini once waved the baton, has hit some sour notes over aging instruments. A Go Fund Me page, shown as created by Modesto High band and orchestra teacher Matt Cover, seeks to raise $50,000 to replace the bulk of the school’s musical instruments. As of Wednesday, the campaign had raised $1,450 with online donations by 37 people.  Modesto Bee article

State awards Common Core test contract – With the State Board of Education’s approval, California became the ninth state Wednesday to award a contract to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for the standardized tests in the Common Core State Standards that students will take next spring.  EdSource article

Merced school district’s attendance hovers near 97 percent – Nearly 97 percent of children regularly attended classes in Merced elementary and middle schools in the last school year. Greg Blount, director of information technology and support services for the Merced City School District, recently told Board of Education members that the 17 campuses recorded 96.32 percent attendance for the 2013-2014 school year that ended in early June.  Merced Sun-Star article

Sacramento Bee: Teacher protections that hurt students are indefensible – unless you’re the state’s top education official – The practice of protecting the benefits of public school teachers to the point where it actually harms the most vulnerable students in California is indefensible. Unless, it turns out, that you are the state’s chief education official.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Superintendent Deasy’s early and avid support of iPads under intense scrutiny – Critics now look back on Deasy’s 2011 video testimonial as early evidence of what they believe was a myopic and headlong rush toward the iPad, one that ended last week with the superintendent suspending the troubled $1.3-billion program. LA Times article

Union calls for Deasy to report to ‘teacher jail’ during iPad inquiry – Los Angeles teachers union president Alex Caputo-Pearl on Wednesday called on L.A. Schools chief John Deasy to report to “teacher jail” — district offices that house instructors who are facing allegations of misconduct — while the district’s $1.3-billion iPad program is under investigation.  LA Times article

Atwater High’s agriculture department getting national recognition – Atwater High School’s agriculture program is in the running to be named the top such endeavor in the nation. By virtue of being named the top ag program in the state this year by the California Agricultural Teachers Association, the Atwater program was nominated for the national award and should be notified soon, Principal Alan Peterson said.  Merced Sun-Star article

Students allege UC Santa Barbara mishandled rape discipline – A group of UC Santa Barbara students said they have filed complaints with the federal government alleging that university administrators did not properly discipline a student who was found responsible for raping another undergraduate.   LA Times article

Nan Austin: On Campus: Museums go from chroniclers to hives of knowledge – Today I got a peek at museums 2.0. A few of those weathered corridors of calm and classification we all traipsed through with classmates have opened virtual doors to the universe. In an online talk titled “ Beyond the Field Trip,” Barry Joseph, associate director for digital learning with the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, describes his work in education programs. It was produced by the nonprofit Alliance for Excellent Education.  Austin in Modesto Bee


Coalition praises Rim fire logging plan – Salvage logging planned for the Rim fire area has won praise from a Tuolumne County coalition that includes environmentalists, the timber industry and other partners. The group agreed that the plan, approved last week by Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski, strikes the right balance between protecting the land and marketing some of the trees charred in last year’s massive blaze.  Modesto Bee article

Quake alert’s success spurs effort to complete early-warning system – State legislators and local officials are now hoping to use this test run to speed up completion of the system, which has been slowed by a lack of financing. Scientists hope to eventually send out warnings to the public on cellphones and computers.  LA Times article

Salton Sea inaction could cause ‘catastrophic change,’ report says – Saving the beleaguered Salton Sea will be expensive, but allowing it to continue deteriorating will cost even more in terms of dollars, unemployment, property values and damage to public health, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pacific Institute.  LA Times article

Denise Newton: What’s with the blue trucks? We’re making Kern safer – The senior manager for PG&E writes, “Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews have been busy in Bakersfield. You may have seen our blue trucks or our men and women in hard hats. You may be wondering what we’re doing in your neighborhood. PG&E’s local division leadership teams are continuing to make a real difference in providing our customers safe, reliable and affordable energy with a strong focus on excellent service.” Newton op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Health/Human Services

Nation’s healthcare changes may rein in costs in long run, report says – National healthcare spending will continue to rise in coming years, but at a slower rate than in the previous two decades, according to a government analysis of the nation’s $3-trillion healthcare tab.  LA Times article

West Nile virus hits California harder this year, officials say – The number of mosquitoes infected with the potentially deadly West Nile virus is at the highest level ever detected in California, leading to an increase in the disease in humans, state health officials said Wednesday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno Regional Foundation awards grants to reduce teen pregnancies – With teenage pregnancy rates in the central San Joaquin Valley consistently the worst in the state, leaders of the Fresno Regional Foundation on Wednesday awarded nearly $357,000 in grants to seven organizations committed to reducing those numbers.  Fresno Bee article

Local health care providers discuss health illiteracy – When it comes to health illiteracy, Janet Delgado has stories. A case the Kaweah Delta nurse practitioner often uses as a regular teaching example is that of a native Spanish-speaking male who was hospitalized in the emergency room and near death with dangerously high blood pressure.  Visalia Times-Delta article

REACHing everyone is goal of Stockton activist – Changing the health culture of an entire community the size and diversity of Stockton undoubtedly will take time — a whole generation, Bobby Bivens says. On Wednesday, Bivens, longtime president of Stockton’s NAACP civil rights organization, signed a community-driven policy formalizing his group’s approach to improving health through such steps as serving more nutritious food at gatherings, making water the drink of choice instead of sugar-sweetened beverages, and promoting breastfeeding for newborns and infants.  Stockton Record article

Judge rules salmonella lawsuit against Doctors Medical Center can proceed – A Santa Clara County judge rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that a salmonella outbreak occurred two years ago at Doctors Medical Center of Modesto.  Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Stockton Record: General Plan process needs community input – The General Plan, in many ways, is going to be a document for overall community livability. It’s important to get as much input as possible — even via low-tech methods.  Stockton Record editorial


Bullet train foes ask California Supreme Court to overturn decision – Opponents of the state’s $68 billion bullet train project turned to the California Supreme Court on Wednesday to overturn a lower court ruling that said project officials have complied with a high-speed rail ballot measure approved by voters in 2008.  LA Times articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Other Areas

Chowchilla leader responds to being placed on leave – City Administrator Mark Lewis, who was placed on an indefinite leave by the City Council after a special closed session meeting Friday, has released a statement claiming no wrongdoing.  Merced Sun-Star article

City Hall veteran picked to be Fresno’s controller-finance director –  Fresno City Hall veteran Michael Lima has been named the city’s new controller/finance director. City Manager Bruce Rudd made the announcement Wednesday. Lima’s appointment needs City Council approval; the council will take it up Sept. 11.  Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – PG&E is slammed with record $1.4 billion fine, and deservedly so; State education chief Tom Torlakson sides with teacher unions at students’ expense.

Merced Sun-Star – PG&E’s fines were justified; rate increases were not.

Modesto Bee – PG&E’s fines were justified; rate increases were not.

Sacramento Bee – The practice of protecting the benefits of public school teachers to the point where it actually harms the most vulnerable students in California is indefensible. Unless, it turns out, that you are the state’s chief education official; NFL, 49ers and Harbaugh blow it on domestic violence, again.

Stockton Record – The General Plan, in many ways, is going to be a document for overall community livability. It’s important to get as much input as possible — even via low-tech methods.