September 4, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

Jerry Brown’s transportation plan includes taxes, cap-and-trade dollars — A draft proposal from Brown’s office, shared by a group supportive of more funding that was briefed by the Governor’s Office, incorporates ideas that have been pushed by both Democrats and by Republicans, who agree on the need for more funding but not on where to get it.  Sacramento Bee articleJohn Myers in KQEDSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

With climate change and road repairs, Brown jumps into last-minute legislative fray – Last month, Gov. Jerry Brown raised eyebrows by dodging questions about debates over legislation and joking that he stands “above the fray.” On Thursday, it became clear that phase had ended, and he was diving into some big Capitol scuffles. LA Times article


Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown brokering late deal on medical marijuana regulations – Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is crafting the framework for medical marijuana regulations in California, a session-closing play that could end nearly two decades of clashing interpretations and court battles. Sacramento Bee article 

Jerry Brown gets bill creating new date rape crime — Ten months after California voters passed a ballot measure reducing several drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, Gov. Jerry Brown will be asked to consider a bill intended to soften one impact of Proposition 47. The state Senate on Thursday unanimously approved Senate Bill 333, which would create a new felony for the possession of date-rape drugs with the intent to commit a sexual assault, sending it to Brown’s desk for a signature. Sacramento Bee article 

Fired regulator: Brown pushed to waive oil safeguards — California’s top oil and gas regulators repeatedly warned Gov. Jerry Brown’s senior aides in 2011 that the governor’s orders to override key safeguards in granting oil industry permits would violate state and federal laws protecting the state’s groundwater from contamination, one of the former officials has testified. AP article


Valley politics

Valley congressional Republicans oppose Iran nuke deal — When it comes to the controversial deal that would place controls on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions, Rep. Devin Nunes isn’t a fan. Neither are the other three central San Joaquin Valley Republicans in Congress. Fresno Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: Needed: A mayor for both Stocktons — Though one of the most racially diverse and integrated cities in the United States, economically and politically Stockton is — I won’t say segregated — divided into two camps. Disadvantaged Stockton beefs that its priorities are ignored; that poorer citizens are, so to speak, locked away in dangerous, neglected neighborhoods by more affluent, white-collar voters. That’s the subtext of Stockton politics. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Feinstein trying for 5th term? Invites go out for fundraiser — California U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 82, has sent the first signals that she intends to run for a fifth term — invitations to a Washington, D.C., fundraiser for her 2018 campaign went out Thursday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Sen. Dianne Feinstein opens up about women in politics — Sen. Dianne Feinstein has some advice for women interested in politics: Don’t get too big for your britches. “Start locally,” the Democrat said, warning, “don’t think you can just jump into a federal race with no experience.” LA Times article



Fresno Bee: Immigrants awaiting asylum, who pose no threat to public safety – especially children – should not be incarcerated — Hysteria over illegal immigration does not justify a failure to treat all immigrants humanely and in accordance with the law. Those who pose no threat to public safety should not be targets of incarceration – especially children. Fresno Bee editorial


Other areas

Anthony Rendon elected next Assembly Speaker – Moving to designate a leader with just days remaining in this year’s legislative session, Assembly Democrats on Thursday voted to make Assemblyman Anthony Rendon their next speaker. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times artice

Health plans come out against tax bills – California’s largest health plan group this week declared its opposition to both of the healthcare special session bills that would impose new taxes on managed-care organizations, the latest sign that a replacement for a soon-to-expire health plan tax is unlikely to emerge before lawmakers adjourn next week. Sacramento Bee article

Oil industry, environmentalists in ad war over bill to cut gasoline use – When Californians check their mailboxes or flip on their radios these days, they might be forgiven for thinking an election is around the corner. It’s not, of course. But with just a week left for lawmakers to finish their work this year, a heated ad war is being fought over a bill to cut state gasoline consumption in half. LA Times article‘The ads: Oil companies’ radio and TV spots’ in LA Times 

Shawn Yadon: SB 350 sets unclear pathway for moving goods – The CEO for the California Trucking Association writes, “California’s trucking industry wants our state to have sound environmental goals that are economically feasible. However, it’s our hope that legislative leaders work hand-in-hand with us to make these goals a reality by setting achievable targets in a manner that won’t jeopardize the sacrifices we’ve made to get into cleaner trucks.” Yadon op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Amanda Eaken and Susan Shaheen: Ride sharing can help meet state’s climate-change goals – Eaken, transportation director for the urban solutions program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Shaheen, co-director of the Transportation Sustainability Research Center at UC Berkeley, write, “Still, based on the early data we have seen, we encourage the Legislature and the governor to acknowledge in Senate Bill 350 the role that shared mobility may be poised to play in helping to achieve carbon-reduction goals.” Eaken/Shaheen op-ed in Sacramento Bee

John Myers: Tribal casino deal quickly, quietly sealed by Gov. Brown — In the long and contentious history of Indian gaming in California, tribal leaders think they may have finally found a governor in Jerry Brown who has a good sense of both them and their multi-billion dollar industry. Myers in KQED

Bill banning PG&E penalty tax write-off fails in Senate – Legislation prohibiting Pacific Gas & Electric Co. from taking a tax write-off on a $1.6 billion penalty related to the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion fell short Thursday in the Senate when it failed to receive any Republican support. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

State lawmakers approve traffic relief and stricter penalties for sex offenders – Los Angeles County motorists would be able to use carpool lanes on some local freeways during off-peak hours under a proposal state lawmakers sent to Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday. Another measure en route to the governor’s desk would increase penalties for sex offenders who remove their court-ordered GPS tracking devices. LA Times article

New photographers call on Jerry Brown to veto drove restrictions – An organization representing news photographers urged California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday to veto legislation that would restrict the use of drones over private property without the owner’s consent. LA Times article

Plastic microbead ban fails in state Senate – A bill to bar California retailers from selling cosmetic products that contain exfoliating plastic microbeads failed in the state Senate Thursday after a handful of Democrats held off their votes.  Sacramento Bee article 

Joel Fox: What’s in a name? — California has had debates over place names. In the last decade, there was an effort to change the name of Mount Diablo in Contra Costa County that kicked up a fuss locally but ultimately went nowhere. But in the political world, attempting to change the label on a well-understood government act may well be an effort at subterfuge. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Video: California lawmaker present bill for deaf students using sign language – It was a little ironic that the Assembly fell silent to watch Assemblyman James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, present Senate Bill 210, which sets educational standards for deaf students. Gallagher used American Sign Language, which explaining that he has two deaf brothers. Capitol Alert

Congressman Mike Honda grapples with ethics report’s release – Congressman Mike Honda and his staff seem to have improperly used U.S. government resources to benefit his campaign and linked official activities to political support, the Office of Congressional Ethics reported Thursday in a long-awaited report. San Jose Mercury News articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

Jeb Bush to hold fundraiser in Bakersfield – A member of the Bush family is coming back to Bakersfield. This time it’s Jeb Bush, who will be holding a fundraiser for his presidential bid Sept. 17, according to a source close to the campaign. Bakersfield Californian article 

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe and Doug Jeffe: California here he comes — Let’s stipulate that the GOP’s Trump boom may fizzle long before California’s June 2016 Presidential primary rolls around —remember Michele Bachmann and the pizza man?  But The Donald has the resources, the bravado and the profile, potentially, to stay in the race through the Primary season.   And the state’s GOP presidential Primary might even matter—for the first time in a very long while. Betitch Jeffe and Jeffe in Fox & Hounds

Victor Davis Hanson: The exhausting Mrs. Clinton — Hillary Clinton’s second race for the presidency is only about a quarter through, but she already seems to be causing general fatigue. Hanson column in Fresno Bee


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

California farm revenue grew in 2014 despite drought – Take a spin through rural California and evidence of the drought is everywhere: cracked soil, unplanted fields. Unprecedented cutbacks in deliveries of water from state and federal reservoirs have put agricultural on the defensive. In terms of dollars and cents, however, farmers seem to be holding their own. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno Unified brings in legal help amid federal investigation – The Fresno Unified School District is bringing in longtime criminal defense lawyer Carl Faller to provide counsel amid a federal investigation into the school district’s construction contracts. Fresno Bee article


Jobs and the Economy

U.S. employers add 173,000 jobs in August, rate falls to 5.1 percent – The U.S. unemployment rate fell to a seven-year low in August as employers added a modest 173,000 jobs, a key piece of evidence for the Federal Reserve in deciding whether to raise interest rates from record lows later this month. AP articleLA Times articleNew York Times article

Modesto names community, economic development director — Modesto has hired an official from an upscale Florida city to run its Community and Economic Development Department. Cindy Birdsill, who served as Coral Gables economic and cultural development director for nearly six years, is expected to start her new job Sept. 15. She will be paid $161,000 annually. Modesto picked Birdsill after conducting a national search that generated 36 applicants, according to a city news release. Modesto Bee article 

Survey: California state workers like their work, management not so much — California’s state workers generally believe their work matters and that performance standards are well-defined, but that management doesn’t recognize good work or hold employees accountable for results, according to the results of a first-of-its-kind survey released Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

Work begins on new site for old Fresno eatery — Fresno city leaders joined the owners of the popular Cosmopolitan Tavern to break ground Thursday at the eatery’s future location near the Fresno Convention Center, out of the path of the state’s high-speed rail line. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Property owners seek justice from foreclosure at Fresno rally – California property owners who lost homes or land to foreclosure filled the Mariposa Mall in downtown Fresno late Thursday afternoon to support the plaintiff in a lawsuit being heard at the B.F. Sisk Courthouse. Fresno Bee article

Daniel Borenstein: Public pension-spiking Bay Area fire chief faces bit cut in $241,000-a-year payout – When Peter Nowicki retired in 2009, the then-50-year-old chief of the tiny Moraga Orinda Fire District made national news by trading his $194,000 salary for a starting pension of $241,000 a year. Now the Contra Costa Employees’ Retirement Association board will consider rolling that back 25 percent after its investigation found — as reported in this column six years ago — that Nowicki, aided by fire district directors, grossly spiked his pension. Borenstein in Contra Costa Times 

Sacramento Bee: Seeking a balanced plan for Sacramento’s minimum wage – Income inequality is a huge issue everywhere. A minimum wage increase is only part of the solution, and can’t come at the price of stalling the broader local economic recovery.  And Sacramento’s leaders must redouble efforts to attract employers that pay skilled workers $80,000, $90,000 and more a year. Sacramento Bee editorial

Silicon Valley, seeking diversity, focuses on blacks – More than a decade before diversity became a hot issue in Silicon Valley, Jason Young came home on winter break from Harvard to discover that his family was being evicted. New York Times article

After battles, wage theft victims see little relief — Nearly 30% of low-wage workers in Los Angeles County reported being paid less than the minimum wage, according to a 2010 study by the UCLA Labor Center. Across California, minimum-wage violations drove as many 41,000 families below the poverty line, according to a U.S. Department of Labor study from last year that examined data from California and New York. LA Times article



Assemblyman Gray introduces water storage bill – Assemblyman Adam Gray introduced new legislation this week to adopt targets on water storage statewide. AB 1242 proposes California should adopt a target to increase water storage by 25 percent by 2025 and 50 percent by 2050. Merced Sun-Star article

Drought affecting ag, jobs, health – California’s current drought may just be the tip of the iceberg as even after the current dry conditions end, the state’s farmers, residents and lawmakers need to be ready to cope with more droughts in the future, according to Fresno State University researchers. Visalia Times-Delta article

Hanford Elks Lodge delivers water to Porterville — Imagine not having water to drink, bathe, or flush your toilet with. Now imagine there being no relief in sight for the near future. That is the situation that parts of Porterville in Tulare County face each day. With that in mind, Elks lodges in Hanford, Porterville, Tulare and Delano pooled their resources and delivered more than 4,000 gallons of water Aug. 27 to Porterville. Hanford Sentinel article 

California fines oil companies for failing to report water use data – The state fined 30 oil companies on Thursday for failing to meet a deadline to report information about the source, volume and disposal of water used in oil and gas production. LA Times articleBakersfield Californian article

The forgotten Filipino-Americans who led the ’65 Delano grape strike – While the United Farm Workers and Cesar Chavez are widely known for running the Delano Grape Strike and prompting an international boycott of table grapes, the origins of that movement are rarely discussed. Some people in the town of Delano and across the state are determined to change that. KQED report 

San Diego is a salt mover and shaker in desalination campaign – San Diego may be known as “America’s Finest City,” but — at least this week — it’s also the epicenter of the desalination and water reuse movement. LA Times article

USDA forecasts record 2015 walnut crop — The 2015 California walnut crop is shaping up to be a record-breaker. In a production forecast issued Thursday, the USDA predicted this year’s walnut harvest would come in at a record 575,000 tons, up 1 percent from 2014’s crop, which totaled 570,000 tons. The Business Journal article


Criminal Justice/Prisons 

San Jose jail death: 3 officers arrested on suspicion of murder, Santa Clara County sheriff’s office says — In a move with no known precedent in its 165-year history, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office is recommending murder charges against three correctional officers in the death of an inmate last week at the main jail, accusing them of viciously beating the man and admitting to using force only after the man was found lifeless in his cell. San Jose Mercury News articleLA Times articleAP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article 

Showers, visitors back as San Quentin manages respiratory disease – San Quentin State Prison is allowing visitors to return and regular showers to resume as it deals with a respiratory illness among inmates. State corrections department officials said Thursday that the general population has received showers, and will be allowed visitors again starting this weekend. AP articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

Officers shoot man in southeast Fresno confrontation – A man shot by two police officers in southeast Fresno on Thursday morning is in critical condition, and police and the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the incident. Fresno Bee article

LAPD sends more officers into South LA amid jump in killings – Los Angeles police have sent additional officers into South L.A. as part of its effort to quell a surge in homicides, the LAPD said Thursday. LA Times article

ACLU to Justice Department: Don’t give LAPD money for body cameras — Citing “deep reservations” with the LAPD’s body camera policy, the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union urged federal officials on Thursday not to give the department money to buy more of the devices. LA Times articleAP article 

Oakland Police Department sets good example, Obama official says — The Oakland Police Department is an example of what police agencies across the nation should emulate in the post-Ferguson era, the executive director of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing said Thursday. San Francisco Chronicle article



Number of freshmen from outside California increase at three UC campuses – The ranks of UC freshmen from other states and nations will rise substantially this fall at the Irvine, Davis and San Diego campuses, even as the controversially high numbers of non-Californians will remain about the same as last year at UCLA and UC Berkeley, new enrollment numbers show. LA Times article

California makes ‘aggressive’ push to combat sexual assaults – Half a dozen proposals are moving through the Legislature this year that aim to increase the response at California colleges, including a minimum punishment of two years’ suspension for students found guilty of sexual assault in a campus investigation and a requirement to note that sanction on a student’s transcript. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Walters: How do we grade our schools? – Conflicts over developing a new accountability system will continue for many months, culminating late next year. And if education reformers are unhappy with the outcome, they may, as Lucia’s letter hints, take the battle into the courts. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Fresno Bee: Fresno Unified keeps public in the dark about federal subpoena — The district’s foot dragging on speaking to district taxpayers and answering reporters’ questions about the subpoena is inexcusable. These delays only thicken the cloud of suspicion hanging over a district whose leaseback method of building new facilities was slapped down by the 5th District Court of Appeal in June. Fresno Bee editorial

12,000 students ask feds to wipe their college debt – Almost 12,000 students are asking the federal government to discharge their college loan debt, asserting that their school either closed or lied to them about job prospects, according to government data released Thursday. Already, claims totaling about $40 million in loans have been approved. AP article

Ze’ev Wurman and Bill Evers: Don’t let state hide test scores – The former members of the California State Academic Standards Commission write, “The citizens and press of California must resolve to always push back against such conduct and demand real transparency and accountability in California’s system of public education – for the sake of California’s children. Wurman/Evers op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Students speak out on the Common Core – The success of the Common Core standards depends on how effectively they engage students. Yet the issue of how students are responding to the standards has generally received far less attention – from researchers, policy analysts and the media – than other issues such as teacher preparation, the new Smarter Balanced assessments and the adequacy of curriculum material. EdSource article

Delhi school service club grows to more than double its size – A service club at Delhi High School has built a reputation for good work and compassionate members – so much so that the membership more than doubled this school year to a total of nearly 150 students. Merced Sun-Star article 

Garces threat leads to more security — Garces Memorial High School employed additional security guards on campus Thursday after students allegedly threatened a shooting at the school late Wednesday, according to the Bakersfield Police Department. Bakersfield Californian article

Enochs High student booked after fight at school — A 16-year-old female student at Enochs High School has been booked at Stanislaus County juvenile hall, charged with assault causing great bodily injury, after a fight at the school Wednesday morning. Modesto Bee article 

Shooting at Sacramento City College leaves one dead, two wounded — A gunman opened fire on the busy Sacramento City College campus Thursday afternoon, killing one victim and badly wounding another before running away. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article



Hume Lake Christian Camps evacuate employees, cancel events due to Rough fire smoke danger — Hume Lake Christian Camps officials evacuated their employees on Wednesday and canceled all camp events until Oct. 4 because of Rough fire smoke and air-quality hazards. The Rough fire, which started with a lightning strike over a month ago, continues to tear through national forest and park service land. More than 81,500 acres were scorched as of Thursday morning. It is 25 percent contained. Fresno Bee article

PACE program approved for unincorporated areas — Despite concerns from the federal governments, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors last week unanimously approved a motion to let residents in unincorporated areas of the county apply for financing for energy-efficient improvement. Stockton Record article


Health/Human Services

Health officials gather in Fresno for syphilis-prevention meeting — The majority of women giving birth to babies with syphilis are very poor, homeless and using drugs, a state health official said Wednesday at a meeting in Fresno of county health officials from throughout California. Fresno Bee articleKVPR report 

CVS says its ban on cigarette sales led to drop among other retailers — A year after CVS, one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains, decided to stop selling cigarettes, it said its decision has led to a decrease in cigarette sales across all retailers in 13 states. Washington Post article


Fast-food nation? Where you live doesn’t affect what you eat, researchers say – Challenging the idea that “food deserts” — those areas devoid of healthy eating options — lead to obesity, new research finds little connection between the eating habits of Angelenos and their proximity to fast-food restaurants or grocery stores. LA Times article


Center for disabled adults hopes to raise profile in community – The Howard Training Center in Ceres turns out more than 12,000 meals a month while employing disabled adults who would not otherwise have the opportunity to work. Executive Director Carla Strong said she has come to realize many people are not aware of the nonprofit center or have forgotten “we are here.” Modesto Bee article


Alzheimer’s-focused foundation aims to help families – Alzheimer’s: it’s the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. Locals that specialize in understanding the deadly disease have said caregivers and families with loved ones afflicted, at times, become hopeless. Steve Nelsen, founder of the CARE Foundation — a new Alzheimer’s-focused nonprofit — is hoping to change that. Visalia Times-Delta article

David Lazarus: Doctor’s attempt to bring lower-price diabetes drug to market thwarted – Dr. Mayer Davidson has long been frustrated by the rising cost of prescription drugs, especially in his area of expertise — diabetes. Lazarus in LA Times

Anti-odor clothing hits big with shoppers, worries docs — So-called “anti-odor wear” makes customers feel fresh, but it may pose a health risk more vile than any gym odor, experts warn. A spate of recent studies suggests that consumers should think twice about treated gym clothes, especially those with antibacterial qualities, when searching for new garments this fall. Sacramento Bee article


Land Use/Housing

Fresno County denies 7-Eleven license to sell beer, wine — Opposition from neighbors in northwest Fresno’s Old Fig Garden area was key to sinking a convenience store’s application for a state license to sell beer and wine. Fresno Bee article 

Vacant parkland question to return to Hanford commission — Amid lingering questions from the public, the Hanford City Council asked Tuesday to continue pursuing the sale of 18.1 acres of vacant land located west of Hidden Valley Park. The issue will return to the planning commission with an updated inventory of the city’s community parks. Hanford Sentinel article

Homeless vets at home in new apartments – If Lawrence Thomlinson’s luck had hit the skids several years earlier, things might have turned out a lot worse for the 71-year-old retired printer. Bakersfield Californian article

 Sen. Dianne Feinstein pushes bill to create more homeless housing on VA campus — Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday she would introduce legislation to move veterans from the county’s alleyways and sidewalk shantytowns onto the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ long-contested West Los Angeles campus. LA Times article

Fans, foes of Turlock ice rink and corn maze face off — R.A.M. Farms is seeking to tweak its permit for an ice rink, corn maze and other seasonal activities on the east edge of town. The ice rink would operate two hours later on weekday evenings, until 10 p.m. However, several neighbors who spoke against the project at a community meeting complained that the rink already operated later than it was permitted. Modesto Bee article



Sacramento taxi drivers protest Uber airport services — Sacramento International Airport’s decision to allow Uber drivers to make passenger pickups has prompted angry complaints this week from traditional cabbies who are not allowed to await passengers curbside. Sacramento Bee article


Other areas

Charlie Waters, tireless advocate for Fresno veterans, dies – Charlie Waters, the Korean War combat veteran who battled in peace to secure a solid roof over the heads of his fellow veterans in Fresno, died Thursday. He was 82. Mr. Waters made Fresno his home for the past two decades. Fresno Bee article

Patterson council responds to grand jury report on costly building purchase — The Patterson City Council responded to the grand jury’s findings that the city ignored regulations and wasted $2.4 million on a building purchase for a City Hall annex. Modesto Bee article 

Roseville passes fines for hosts of underage drinkers — Adults who allow underage visitors to their homes to drink alcohol can be fined under an ordinance adopted by the Roseville City Council Wednesday. Roseville’s version allows police to issue $500 fines for a first offense, $750 for a second offense and $1,000 for a third. Police can fine a host if one or more minors possesses or consumes alcohol or drugs on their premises. Sacramento Bee article


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Fresno Unified’s foot dragging on speaking to district taxpayers and answering reporters’ questions about the (federal) subpoena is inexcusable. These delays only thicken the cloud of suspicion hanging over a district whose leaseback method of building new facilities was slapped down by the 5th District Court of Appeal in June; Hysteria over illegal immigration does not justify a failure to treat all immigrants humanely and in accordance with the law. Those who pose no threat to public safety should not be targets of incarceration – especially children.

Sacramento Bee – A fair victory for the cheater Tom Brady; Income inequality is a huge issue everywhere. A minimum wage increase is only part of the solution, and can’t come at the price of stalling the broader local economic recovery.  And Sacramento’s leaders must redouble efforts to attract employers that pay skilled workers $80,000, $90,000 and more a year.