September 5, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

 Field Poll: Californians feel more positive about state – Californians feel better about the direction of the state and the performance of the Legislature than they did four years ago, when budget stand-offs paralyzed state government for months on end. But their view of state lawmakers still tilts more negative than positive.  Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle article

 Kashkari, Brown clash over economy, education, plastic bags – Republican Neel Kashkari used a debate Thursday to punch repeatedly at Gov. Jerry Brown’s priorities, while the Democratic governor parried with a defense of his record and, at one point, a dismissive wave of his hand.  Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleKQED reportCapitol Weekly article

 Swearengin changes ballot designation in California controller’s contest – Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, the Republican candidate for California controller, has revamped the ballot designation that voters will see in November, changing it from the June primary’s “Mayor, City of Fresno” to “Mayor/CEO.”  Sacramento Bee articleFresno Bee article

Gov. Brown

Gov. Brown says he will sign bill that would ban plastic grocery bags – Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, during Thursday night’s gubernatorial debate with Republican rival Neel Kashkari, said he plans to sign a law that would make California the first state to impose a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags.  LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Valley politics

 CD21: Renteria is getting lots of attention from national magazines such as Elle – There’s no doubt: the national magazine world likes 21st Congressional District candidate Amanda Renteria. The Sanger Democrat is part ofa photo spread in the latest Elle magazine that features eight women — seven Democrats and a Republican — running for Congress. Copy next to the photo notes that if eight women can win in November, and no incumbents lose, females will make up 20% of the U.S. House for the first time.  Fresno Bee article

 Atwater resident says police wasted resources on Warchol – An Atwater police investigation involving a planning commissioner who stored old political campaign signs in his car trunk – one of which was allegedly reported stolen in 2006 – has been forwarded to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office.  Merced Sun-Star article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

 Dan Walters: Kashkari goes on attack but doesn’t score breakthrough on Brown – Overall, Kashkari did well, but if he wanted Brown to lose his cool – which he does on occasion when facing criticism – it didn’t happen. Brown eschewed his characteristic verbal gymnastics and remained on message: that his governorship has produced economic recovery, fiscal stability and educational progress.  Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Contentious California gubernatorial debate turns to insults – The debate between Democratic California Governor Jerry Brown and his long-shot Republican opponent quickly turned to insults on Thursday, kicking off the state’s election season with disagreements over education, high-speed rail and immigration.  Reuters article‘Crazy train vs. gravy train — #CADebate highlights, lowlights’ in San Francisco Chronicle

 Brown slammed over Tesla in California debate – Gov. Jerry Brown promoted his record in turning around the California economy during a debate with his longshot Republican challenger Thursday night, in which the two sparred over the state’s business climate, a contentious teacher tenure law and whether Neel Kashkari’s business experience makes him qualified to lead the state.  AP article

 Lawmakers on both sides of the Brown, Kashkari debate claim victory –  After a combative debate between Gov. Jerry Brown and GOP challenger Neel Kashkari with no real knockout blows, lawmakers on both sides were quick to declare their respective candidates the winnerThursday night.  LA Times article

 In California, Jerry Brown’s opponent makes most of lone debate – It was the only scheduled debate in this year’s contest for California governor, so Neel T. Kashkari — the little-known and underfunded Republican trying to unseat Jerry Brown, the Democrat seeking re-election — sought to make the most of it.  New York Times article

 Brown, Kashkari on the issues – Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and GOP challenger Neel Kashkari differed on issues from immigration to high-speed rail in Thursday’s debate. Here are some excerpts.  Sacramento Bee article

Fact check: Kashkari’s tax plans – Brown’s claim: Kashkari wants to give tax breaks to rich people.  Sacramento Bee article

 Fact check: Kashkari’s finances – Brown’s claim: Kashkari is a wealthy banker.  Sacramento Bee article

Fact check: Brown and high speed rail – Kashkari’s claimBrown is causing gas pricesto increase to fund the state’s high-speed rail project.  Sacramento Bee article

 Fact check: Is Brown too close to teachers? union – Kashkari’s claim: Brown appealed a court ruling that found the state’s teacher dismissal rules unconstitutional because he is beholden to the California Teachers Association, a major donor.  Sacramento Bee article

Marshall Tuck challenges California school board to lead on tenure revamp – Decrying state schools chief Tom Torlakson for a lack of action on the June court decision ruling California’s teacher hiring and dismissal practices unconstitutional, challenger Marshall Tuck delivered a letter to the State Board of Education Thursday asking its members to immediately begin developing solutions to the issues raised in the lawsuit.  Capitol Alert

 Fabian Núñez to lead campaign against 6 Californias – Former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez will chair OneCalifornia, the effort opposing the “Six Californias” ballot measure pushed for 2016’s ballot by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper.  Political Blotter;Capitol Alert

 Dan Walters Daily: Six Californias is exercise in futility – Opponents of the Six Californias initiative are gearing up for a fight that may not happen, Dan says.  Dan Walters Daily in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

 Boxer not resigning, political aide says – U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer is staying put, her political consultant said Thursday, seeking to squelch fast-moving rumors that the veteran California Democrat plans to resign.  Sacramento Bee article

Court: Same-sex marriage bans in Indiana, Wisconsin unconstitutional – A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that same-sex marriage bans in Wisconsin and Indiana are unconstitutional, setting up yet another legal showdown that could ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.  LA Times article

 Santorum rallies Right to Life advocates – Former senator and presidential hopeful Rick Santorum spent the evening in Visalia Thursday, shaking hands, signing books and encouraging local pro-life advocates to do more for the sake of the nation’s unborn at the 19th annual Making a Difference for Life banquet, hosted by Tulare-Kings Right to Life.  Visalia Times-Delta article

 News Briefs

Top Stories

 Special Report: California tax cheats hard to find – By some estimates, thousands of California construction workers are left to toil in the shadows, exploited by contractors who use an illegal scheme to save money and avoid paying employment taxes and workers compensation. Finding the evidence, though, can be difficult. It’s even more challenging to find it in Fresno County, where the dominating labor issue is wage theft.  Fresno Bee article

 California drought: El Niño chances fall again – Federal forecasters on Thursday continued to dash hopes of an almighty El Niño bringing rain to California. While the National Weather Service raised the possibility earlier this year of the influential El Niño weather pattern emerging this fall or winter, climate scientists have since downgraded the chances – from 80 percent, in May, to between 60 and 65 percent this week. San Francisco Chronicle articleCapital Public Radio report

 Jobs and the Economy

 U.S. economy adds a weak 142,000 jobs in August –  U.S. employers added just 142,000 jobs in August, snapping a six-month streak of hiring above 200,000 and posting the smallest gain in eight months.  LA Times articleAP article

 Taxpayers and worked gouged by labor-law dodge – The largest government infusion of cash into the U.S. economy in generations – the 2009 stimulus – was riddled with a massive labor scheme that harmed workers and cheated unsuspecting American taxpayers.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Fresno County sets export record in 2013 at more than $3 million – For the first time in its history, Fresno County’s farmers, producers and manufacturers cranked out more than $3 billion in exported goods, led by agricultural crops and processed foods.  Fresno Bee article

Joel Fox: California could use a border fence to keep business in – Maybe we should build a fence around California not to keep people out but to keep businesses in now that the Tesla decided that the battery gigafactory would set up shop across the border in Nevada.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

 Electrified car sales stall as buyers back away from hybrids – Sales of electrified vehicles in the United States have slowed dramatically in the last year, causing concern that the emerging technology has lost its charge. A study by online automotive research company suggests a stall in the market for electrically powered cars, led by a decline in hybrids.  LA Times article

 New rules will rein in San Joaquin County ‘marketing events’ – The San Joaquin County Planning Commission on Thursday signed off on new rules governing wine and wineries in the county, but not before recommending changes to the proposed ordinance before it gets its final approval.  Stockton Record article

 Mattress firm to acquire California’s Sleep Train – Mattress Firm Holding Corp. has agreed to acquire rival mattress retailer the Sleep Train Inc. for $425 million in cash and stock.  LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

 Kings part-owner Nagle purchases Sacramento Republic FC – Sacramento Kings owner Kevin Nagle has bought a controlling interest in Sacramento Republic FC, the successful minor league soccer team that local officials hope to grow into a Major League Soccer franchise. Sacramento Bee article

 Robin Abcarian: Cheerleaders’ wage-theft lawsuit to cost Oakland Raiders $1.25 million – Eight months after filing a groundbreaking, class-action wage theft lawsuit against the Oakland Raiders, two former Raiderettes cheerleaders have won a $1.25-million settlement from the team. The deal was announced Thursday by attorneys for both sides, and is subject to court approval.  Abcarian column in LA Times

 Electric police motorcycles a hot item for Clovis dealer – Eckhaus Fleet is beginning to carve out a niche as one of only a handful of dealerships in California and the only one in the San Joaquin Valley selling the latest products from Zero Motorcycles, the nation’s top electric motorcycle manufacturer based in Santa Cruz.  The Business Journal article

 Despite tight market, these San Francisco rents will still surprise you – A recent article on San Francisco’s rental housing crisis got us wondering: how much does it cost these days in to rent a studio? A one-bedroom? A two-bedroom? And what comes with the money? Here then is an example of each. We picked ones whose prices surprised us — even knowing what we know about the market. Sure, cheaper ones exist… but fewer and fewer and further in between.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Tesla ‘gigafactory’ will ‘change Nevada forever,’ Gov. Sandoval says – Tesla Motors’ electric car battery plant will be worth $100 billion to the state of Nevada, according to the men who crafted the deal.  LA Times article

 Castle out of running for Tesla plant – Castle Commerce Center was eliminated Thursday as a potential location for a $5 billion Tesla Motors battery factory after the electric carmaker chose a Nevada site for the coveted plant.  Merced Sun-Star article

Sacramento Bee: Elon Musk jilts California – Musk’s business model revolves around California’s environmental laws. But maybe California is a little too green, even for Musk. Our guess is that he won’t be returning any of the baubles taxpayers have given him. But we’re tough. We’ll get over it, in time.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Elk Grove’s economic development director leaves city with little success – Randy Starbuck heard an earful from the chamber floor and the City Council dais. Roseville and other area cities’ economic development efforts were leaving Elk Grove in the rear-view mirror, residents at the March council meeting said, bringing new businesses and jobs to their cities while Elk Grove watched by the side of the road. Sacramento Bee article

‘Retail Worker Bill of Rights’ gains traction in San Francisco – The proposed city law is designed to make life easier for hourly, low-wage workers at the city’s 1,250 chain-store locations, including retail and fast-food businesses, hotel chains and banks, by discouraging on-call scheduling and encouraging access to full-time hours.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Chinese builder makes $1-billion entry into U.S. housing market – A major Chinese home builder is making a $1-billion bet on the U.S. housing market, and it came to Los Angeles on Thursday to celebrate.  LA Times article


 Stanislaus still tweaking loan program for replacing dry wells – More than a week after supervisors approved a loan program for replacing dry residential wells in Stanislaus County, eligible homeowners are not able to apply. County staff members said Thursday that they are putting final touches on the emergency program, designed for rural homeowners who have lived without water in their faucets for months. Modesto Bee article

Almond growers struggle to cope with drought – California’s almond growers are coping with the drought by drilling more wells, pumping more groundwater, pulling out orchards and delaying new plantings, a just-released survey shows.  Modesto Bee article

Pump until it’s gone? – Those in the local community who support groundwater regulation hailed last week’s sweeping state legislation as the end of California’s “pump as you please” policy.  Hanford Sentinel article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

 Michael Fitzgerald: The obstacle to a safer city: Departing police – Stocktonians sick of high crime taxed themselves in 2013 to beef up the Stockton Police Department — and the city just surpassed its 2013 murder total. So the grumbling has begun. Cash-strapped Stocktonians sacrificed to add 120 cops. Ten months have passed, yet none have been hired. What gives?  Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

 Motecuzoma Sanchez: Police cameras are necessary – The Stockton resident writes, “Body cameras are most definitely needed for Stockton cops. They are one of the best convergences of technology and public policy that exists today. They have no bias. They tell no lies. And they have the potential to save taxpayers money in averted lawsuits paid out by Stockton annually.”  Sanchez op-ed in Stockton Record

Coalinga council Oks sale of jail – Coalinga’s City Council gave its city manager the go-ahead Thursday night to try to sell its closed jail. Claremont Custody Center has been closed for three years, but the city continues to pay about $100,000 to maintain the 70,000-square-foot complex.  Fresno Bee article

Family sues, alleging widespread failings, cover-up in 2013 prison pepper spray death – The parents of a suicidal, mentally ill inmate who died at Mule Creek State Prison a year ago after being pepper sprayed filed suit Thursday against dozens of defendants, including the guard who sprayed him and others they charge with trying to cover up the circumstances of his death.  Sacramento Bee article

 Mid-year report shows crime down in Los Banos – Overall reported crime was down 14.7 percent in Los Banos in the first six months of 2014 compared with the same period last year, but some areas saw steep increases, according to a recently released Police Department report.  Los Banos Enterprise article


 Suspects in custody after Bullard High bomb threat, online rumors of shooting – A bomb threat and graffiti tagging at Bullard High School — and a copycat threat on social media about plans to shoot up the school — left students and parents terrified Thursday and drew a swarm of law enforcement to the northwest Fresno campus.  Fresno Bee articleKVPR report

 UC president meets with college leaders in Merced – University of California President Janet Napolitano met with about 10 California community college leaders Thursday in Merced to discuss ways to increase the number of transfers from the colleges to schools in the UC system.  Merced Sun-Star article

Stanislaus State ponders its name – A quick sampling this week found support for Stan State as the informal name for this town’s university. Turkey Tech came in second, but it doesn’t stand a chance in the just-launched effort to rebrand California State University, Stanislaus.  Modesto Bee article

Kern High School District investigating unauthorized spending – The Kern High School District is investigating a payroll mistake uncovered earlier this year that led to years of unauthorized spending. That spending includes between $9,150 and $12,750 each year in stipends to coordinators, specialists, special education staff members and general education teachers.  Bakersfield Californian article

 Janet Napolitano hopes UC can cash in on companies, not just research – When Google went public, Stanford University made millions. The windfall came because Stanford had equity: not only Google’s intellectual property but also the company itself. This kind of direct investment in a startup was not allowed at the University of California — that is, until now. UC President Janet Napolitano made the change possible by removing guidelines for industry-academic relations. Her action is raising questions about ethics, funding and the future of basic research.  KQED report

 JoDee Marcellin: Sanger Unified pushes the pedal into a whole new world of learning – The coordinator of instructional technology innovation grants and program development for Sanger Unified writes, “Technology innovation. Blended learning. Flipped classrooms. Many educational technology buzzwords are frolicking about in our schools, communities and research. What do they mean and how do they improve student achievement? Sanger Unified School District is on a journey to answer these questions, among many others, that affect the way students learn in the new era of Common Core State Standards and 21st century skills.” Marcellin op-ed in Fresno Bee

Interim UC Irvine chancellor nominated for permanent post – Howard Gillman, a political scientist who has been interim chancellor of UC Irvine since July, is being nominated to become the permanent head of the massive Orange County campus.  LA Times article


 Wildlife groups sue feds over Rim fire logging – Environmentalists filed a lawsuit Thursday against a federal agency, saying it aims to protect the California spotted owl living in the burned forests marked for logging after the third-largest wildfire in state history.  AP article

 Napa earthquake brought ground ruptures, highest shaking on record – The ground-shaking during the magnitude 6.0 Napa earthquake was the highest level recorded in modern times for downtown Napa, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.  LA Times article

 Kern says refinery changes would bring more benefits than risks – Kern County staff have determined economic benefits outweigh the potential harm to air quality, groundwater and natural habitat if Alon USA Energy Inc. moves forward with controversial changes to its refinery on Rosedale Highway.  Bakersfield Californian article

 Chevron to pay $278,000 for Richmond refinery air violations – Chevron has agreed to pay $278,000 to regulators for air-quality violations at its Richmond refinery unrelated to the destructive 2012 fire at the plant.  San Francisco Chronicle article

 Modesto News: Shedding light on streetlights plan – This week, the City Council moved forward with a project to replace nearly 9,500 of its high-pressure sodium streetlights with light-emitting diodes, which use less energy, last longer and will save Modesto several hundred thousand dollars annually on its electric bill.  Modesto Bee article

Crude oil protestors disrupt Bay Area plant – A dozen activists chained themselves to a gate Thursday morning in Richmond to protest crude-oil shipments on rail to the Kinder Morgan energy company rail terminal. There were no reports of arrests, but demonstrators said they were able to disrupt operations for three hours.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

 Steve Lopez: In vaccination debate, children of more responsible parents at risk – Despite the science, we’re on the verge of a potential public health crisis because so many parents are opting out of vaccinating their children.  Lopez column in LA Times

 Tony Jones to leave Tulare Regional Medical Center – Early last month, Dr. Parmod Kumar a member of the Tulare Regional Medical Center’s board of directors, praised Tony Jones for helping turn around the hospital district’s declining finances. But soon, the district will have to get by without Jones.  Visalia Times-Delta article

 Good neighbors add to the serenity of latest women’s shelter – Standing in the sparkling kitchen of the renovated home that is the Women’s Center-Youth & Family Services’ new shelter for battered women and their children, CEO Joelle Gomez can hardly contain her enthusiasm.  Stockton Record article

Other Areas

 Parents liking children-only area – It’s not surprising Lopez supports the Visalia City Council’s decision earlier this week to designate the playground at Village Park as a “children-only” space. As such, any one in violation who is asked to leave and refuses could be cited for loitering and face up to a $1,000 fine, along with up to six months in a Tulare County jail.  Visalia Times-Delta article

 City Beat: Water savings, 24th Street work – City officials say water conservation efforts prompted their 42,678 residential customers to use about 15.8 percent less water in May compared to May 2013.  Bakersfield Californian article

 Brik McDill: Sentence doesn’t fit crime after judge’s courthouse affair – Here we have for all to see deliberate continuing malfeasance winked away with a wrist slap. Right or wrong, our judiciary is thought of as the least-corruptible branch of government, and it goes to pains to avoid every appearance of impropriety.  McDill column in Bakersfield Californian

 Stockton is Magnificent moves from Miracle Mile to shade of Victory Park – “Do you love your city? If not, make it a place you do love.” With those words, 59-year-old Denise Jefferson makes her pitch for Stockton is Magnificent, a celebration in its fourth year that simply honors her hometown.  Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – California gives and gives, but Elon Musk of Tesla only wants more; Y’all can thank LBJ for keeping California’s wildernesssafe.

 Merced Sun-Star – Tesla’s Elon Musk jilts California, despite subsidies.

Modesto Bee – Tesla’s Elon Musk jilts California, despite subsidies.

Sacramento Bee – Elon Musk’s business model revolves around California’s environmental laws. But maybe California is a little too green, even for Musk; For people wondering how close the relationship is between Washington and Wall Street, look no further than former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s new job.

Stockton Record – Patience is needed for construction projects on I-5.