September 5, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

California union fees case spurring late-session talks at Capitol – Education unions want Gov. Jerry Brown to embrace a late-session measure they hope would shield them from possibly debilitating financial effects of a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision. Sacramento Bee article

Amended assisted death bill heads to Assembly floor – The controversial proposal that would allow physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients can finally get a vote on the Assembly floor after it passed out of a special finance committee on Friday by a vote of 5-3. Sacramento Bee article; KQED report

Carbon cuts so sharp event California Democrats are divided – With President Obama back from a trip to Alaska in which he portrayed the fight against climate change as an urgent international priority, California is showing how hard it can be — even in a state overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats — to get an ambitious carbon reduction bill passed. New York Times article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Joe Mathews: Will new higher initiative fee mean more initiative errors? — Raising the filing fee could lead to more errors and problems with initiatives. Why? Here’s the potential problem. Raising the fee to file an initiative creates an incentive not to file. And maybe that’s a fine incentive if you’re filing an initiative that grossly violates human rights. But such filings are, thank goodness, the exception, not the rule. Mathews in Fox & Hounds



Democrat drops Covered California waiver for immigrants — A Democratic state lawmaker on Friday dropped his effort to allow people who are in the country illegally to buy private insurance through the state’s health insurance marketplace. AP article 

Deportee accused of killing Kathryn Steinle to stand trial on murder charge — The man accused of fatally shooting 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle while she strolled along San Francisco’s Embarcadero will stand trial for murder, a San Francisco judge ruled Friday. LA Times article

Border Patrol to test facial recognition and iris scans at Otay Mesa — Aiming to crack down on foreigners who remain in the country after their visas expire, the federal government is turning to biometrics — and Otay Mesa is scheduled to be a key test site. LA Times article


Other areas

Gov. Brown prohibits ban on artificial lawns as voter turnout bill advances – Lawmakers took action to address the dismal turnout in last year’s statewide election. They sent Brown a bill, SB 439, that would allow counties to set up satellite offices where people could conditionally register to vote and provisionally cast ballots for 14 days before an election and on election day. LA Times article

California senator drops repeal of ‘welfare queen’ law – State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, has suspended her latest bid to reverse a lawbarring families that conceive additional children while on welfare from receiving increases to their grant. Sacramento Bee article 

Late bill requires deeper background check of Uber, Lyft drivers — In the latest attempt to impose tougher rules on companies like Uber and Lyft, an amended California Assembly bill would require drivers to undergo broader criminal background checks. Sacramento Bee article

Assembly sends ivory ban to Jerry Brown – Lawmakers on Friday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a bill banning all ivory sales in California, securing a victory for animal rights activists and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. Capitol Alert

Scaled-back plastic microbead ban survives California Senate – One day after rejecting a ban on the plastic microbeads used in exfoliating creams and scrubs, the California Senate on Friday approved a scaled-back version of the bill. Sacramento Bee article

Amid corporate money blackout, Richard Pan feted at anti-recall event – With the legislative session winding to a close, coiffed patrons milled about the patio at Chops, a fashionable venue for political fundraisers across L Street from the Capitol. Thursday’s event was to bolster the standing of Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who is facing a recall attempt over his bill requiring school vaccinations. Sacramento Bee article

Joel Fox: DiFi on Iran deal, the drought, and running a city — Anyone wonder if U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein has the same feeling expressed by Gov. Jerry Brown about a presidential run–if she were a decade or so younger would she consider running for president? I pondered this when in introducing Feinstein to a joint session of the World Affairs Council and Town Hall Los Angeles Wednesday night, billionaire Eli Broad listed many firsts Feinstein accomplished in her long political career and then suggested she should be the first woman president. Fox in Fox & Hounds


News Stories

Top Stories 

UC Merced marks first decade – In UC Merced’s first 10 years, the once-fledgling campus has gone from a few buildings near a cow pasture to about 1 million square feet of classrooms, research laboratories, offices and student housing. Merced Sun-Star article

Dorothy Leland: Bring UC to Merced was right, best choice – The UC Merced chancellor writes, “The decision to locate a new campus in the fastest-growing but least-developed region of the state was both deliberate and inspired. University and state officials alike recognized that a new campus would provide a much-needed boost to a region plagued for decades by high levels of poverty, unemployment and chronic health problems – along with low levels of educational attainment and economic growth. They also understood that the full impact of this decision would not be immediate but would occur gradually over the decades as the campus reached maturity.” Leland op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

Tulare County ready to plan connection to Hanford high-speed rail station – Visalia and the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) appear ready to carry on with a “connectivity study” that was proposed by Hanford City Manager Darrel Pyle recently — part of a two-prong effort to work with the California High Speed Rail Authority on station design as well as a look at a possible light rail route connecting the proposed Hanford rail station to Tulare County. Visalia Times-Delta article


Jobs and the Economy

Why those working-age men who left the U.S. job market aren’t coming back – Millions of workers who dropped out of the job market during the last economic slump were supposed to jump back in once things turned around. But more than six years after the Great Recession ended, the missing millions are increasingly looking like they’re gone for good. LA Times article

Easier road for Raiders in LA, courtesy of state Supreme Court and Walmart – If the Raiders do return to Los Angeles next season, local fans might want to pin the blame on two unlikely culprits: the California Supreme Court and Wal-Mart. Oakland Tribune article

Deal to win City Council’s support of Olympics could hinder LA’s chances – Council members had given the mayor their blessing, but only in exchange for concessions that Garcetti had resisted — and that some predict could hinder the Olympic bid’s odds of success. LA Times article

Fresno’s Storyland reopens, and a new generation turns its key — On a warm Friday morning in central Fresno, a dozen small children are playing in a shoe. This is nothing new; children have played in shoes, castles and cottages in these parts since 1955. But thanks to a community effort that raised nearly $500,000 and donated almost 13,000 volunteer hours in six months to renovate Roeding Park’s iconic Storyland, these kids are enjoying a much nicer shoe. Fresno Bee article

Uber reports increasing demand in Merced – After having a presence in the Central Valley for more than one year, Uber – the smartphone-based ride service – has seen a dramatic spike in demand in the Merced and Modesto areas. Merced Sun-Star article

Lawmaker enters Caltrans’ ‘$25K’ contest – with plan that cuts Caltrans jobs – Now that Caltrans is offering a $25,000 cash award for the best innovative idea, a Huntington Beach lawmaker this week submitted a plan he says would improve the state’s transportation system – in part by cutting Caltrans jobs. Sacramento Bee article 

California state scientists’ tentative contract contains 15 percent in raises – The Brown administration and the union representing state scientists have reached a tentative contract that includes a 15 percent salary increase over three years and a new requirement that scientists begin contributing toward their retiree health benefits. Sacramento Bee article

Oregonians putting ‘No Californians’ stickers on for sale signs — Oregonians are fed up with the rising home prices in Portland and seem to think Californians are to blame. “No Californians” stickers are mysteriously popping up on for sale signs in front homes that are on the market.  San Francisco Chronicle article

The Numbers Crunch:  Children are cute and life-affirming, but also pricey – As adorable and rewarding as they are, kids are also expensive, as any parent knows. Just how costly comes through in a newly updated online tool that lets you figure out the cost of living across the country based on family size. The Numbers Crunch in Sacramento Bee

Stakes are high for Apple going into ‘critical event’ – Apple’s annual September event is always its most anticipated gathering of the year. The stakes are especially high this time around. LA Times article

Teamsters win election in labor case at center of recent NLRB ruling — Workers at the Silicon Valley recycling plant that was central to a recent landmark National Labor Relations Board ruling have voted in support of being represented by the Teamsters union. LA Times article



Water savings drop in Modesto — Modesto homeowners may be able to water their lawns once a week if the city does not see an increase in water savings. Utilities Director Larry Parlin said that could happen if the city continues to fall farther and farther from meeting its state mandate to reduce its water use 36 percent. Modesto Bee article

California law sows seeds for artificial lawns — Drought-resistant artificial turf can’t be prohibited by California homeowners associations under legislation Gov. Jerry Brown signed Friday. Capitol Alert; LA Times article

After the drought: Private well owners left behind? – Reacting to the drought emergency, state leaders have rescued trout from a warm San Joaquin River, offered $30 million in rebates for ripping out lawns and paid hundreds of millions to help communities facing water shortages. Yet one small group of Californians soon will fall through the safety net, water advocates say. They are private owners of failed wells – thousands in the San Joaquin Valley. They’re getting water now, but they will be on their own again when the emergency money runs out. Fresno Bee article

To battle drought, Burbank is giving free access to recycled water – In a new move to battle the drought, Burbank residents will get access to free recycled water starting this month and running through the end of October. LA Times article

Greywater’s future brightens with help from homebuilders – Greywater, the recycled water collected from your sink, shower or washing machine, is becoming increasingly popular with California’s building industry. By selling new homes with built-in systems for reusing water, developers may propel the practice into the mainstream. KQED report 

Purified wastewater triggers release of arsenic within aquifer, study finds — When it comes to the science of transforming sewage into tap water – or potable reuse – engineers say there’s no question the product is clean enough to drink. The trouble is, researchers are now learning that this drinking water may be too clean to store underground without special treatment. LA Times article

Farm Beat: Winemaker for Barefoot reflects on success — In September 1995, Jennifer Wall became head winemaker for an offbeat brand called Barefoot. Over 20 years – the last 10 of them under ownership of E.&J. Gallo Winery of Modesto – Barefoot has left an imprint like no other. Modesto Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

New attorney for defendant charged with murder in Bakersfield Police Department officer’s death – A Bakersfield man charged with murder in connection with a chase that resulted in the death of a police officer switched attorneys Friday for the third time. Bakersfield Californian article

Local policy: Kings County has our back – Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson, Hanford Police Chief Parker Sever, Lemoore Police Chief Darrel Smith and Avenal Police Chief Rusty Stivers said that they partly agreed with Hickman’s statement. They see a rising hostility to law enforcement in some segments of society. But they also said that Kings County residents have been offering them a lot of support in recent weeks. Hanford Sentinel article

Garcetti, Beck defend LAPD body camera policy – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti responded Friday to criticism over the LAPD’s policy on officer body cameras, saying that automatically making recordings public could violate the privacy of victims. LA Times article 

LA mayor defends crime-fighting efforts as activists call for anti-violence summit — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti defended the city’s crime-fighting strategy Friday, saying more highly trained cops and gang intervention efforts are being deployed in the hardest-hit areas to help reduce a dramatic hike in killings last month. LA Times article

Bigger Folsom prison museum approved by Gov. Brown — Folsom prison museum volunteers are no longer singing the blues after receiving a green light from Gov. Jerry Brown to replace their 900-square-foot building with a new facility more than 30 times as large. Sacramento Bee article



Number of UC transfers declines slightly; UCLA, UC Davis take the most – The number of Californians who are transferring to UC campuses from community colleges and other schools is slightly lower this fall than last year, according to new preliminary statistics. Meanwhile, the number of international students in the UC transfer ranks is rising. LA Times article 

Lawmakers back ‘Yes Means Yes’ training for high schools – Lawmakers on Friday sent Gov. Jerry Brown a “Yes means Yes” bill that backers said would make California the first to bring the sexual assault training to high schools. AP article

New contract, raise on tap for Bakersfield College leader – Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian is all but set to get a new three-year contract and a 10.51 percent raise, distributed over time, according to the language of a proposed contract obtained by The Californian. Bakersfield Californian article

Bill would retroactively lift Exit Exam requirement for all – Thousands of students who failed the California High School Exit Exam since its 2006 debut would be eligible to receive their diplomas — if they meet all other graduation requirements — under last-minute changes Gov. Jerry Brown requested to a bill the state Legislature is considering. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Lodi Unified School District: Later start means more sleep – Lodi High students Cynthia Mendoza and Alex Rodriguez both agree they only get roughly 5 to 6 hours of shuteye a night. By 5:30 a.m., they are up before the crack of dawn, preparing for class when the bell rings at 7:20 a.m. If the opportunity to catch more minutes of precious time snoozing presented itself, they would be all for it. Stockton Record article

Shawn Hubler: School bullying, and what we should do next – As a parent who has raised three children in public, private and parochial schools in California, I think the missing link is in our emotional education. Parents, teachers and kids need more understanding of thecomplex dynamics behind stories like Ronin’s, more compassion and wisdom, and better mental health care. Hubler in Sacramento Bee

In wake of fight, Enochs staff reaffirms Modesto school’s mission to keep students safe – On Friday morning, after students recited the Pledge of Allegiance, Enochs High School Principal Deborah Rowe addressed them over the intercom. She reminded students of the school’s new mission statement, which was presented to them just a month ago on the first day of school. “Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful.” Modesto Bee article 

Genoveva Islas: Open Fresno schools after hours and let children play – The program director for Cultiva La Salud, Fresno, writes, “Fresno Unified operates 95 schools. If half of the schools in south Fresno opened their gates to the community, the impact would be tremendous. Fresno Unified needs to open the gates to our schools and let our children play now.” Islas op-ed in Fresno Bee

Sacramento City College tries to cope with deadly burst of violence – A killer remained on the loose Friday as students and staff at Sacramento City College tried to come to terms with the deadly violence that broke out on their normally lively but peaceful campus the day before, leaving one man dead and another seriously wounded. Sacramento Bee article

Reef-Sunset district responds to Grand Jury criticisms — The Reef-Sunset Unified School District has officially responded to a Kings County Grand Jury report that criticized the district and Avenal High School. Hanford Sentinel article



The Rough Fire, up close and personal — Kings County Fire Marshal Rick Smith knew he and his crews were in for it on the Rough Fire when he heard something he could hardly believe: the moss on the granite was burning. Hanford Sentinel article

Vast, stubborn Fresno wildfire expected to rage through long weekend – A vast and stubborn wildfire that has proven California’s biggest this year was expected to spew smoke through the long Labor Day weekend, leaving some campgrounds empty and prompting health warnings. AP article

Solar advocates in Fresno urge state to maintain power-sales policy – With its abundance of sunshine throughout the year, the San Joaquin Valley is one of the nation’s leading regions in its potential for solar power, according to renewable-energy advocates. But at a press conference Friday at a solar company’s warehouse in Fresno, they bemoaned policies being considered by the California Public Utilities Commission that they say could grind the growth of solar power for homes, schools and businesses to a halt by the end of next year. Fresno Bee article

Southern California air board puts new restrictions on urban oil fields — Urban oil fields in Southern California must improve the way they control odors and respond to complaints from nearby residents under new rules adopted Friday by air quality officials. LA Times article


Health/Human Services

New cardiac imaging machine brings revolutionary technology to Kern County — Precise, reliable information is something every doctor seeks when treating patients, but it’s not always been easy to get in Bakersfield. That is beginning to change. The latest example is Central Cardiology’s newly unveiled Positron Emission Tomography, or PET, imaging machine, which provides cardiologists a more accurate reading of a patient’s heart and improves overall care. Bakersfield Californian article

Who is taking care of grandparents in California? — See where seniors are living with or without family in our state.  Hanford Sentinel article


Land Use/Housing

HOA decision rankles resident at The Lakes in Visalia — A dispute between residents and their homeowners association is making waves at The Lakes in Visalia, one of the South Valley’s most elite addresses. A number of irate homeowners at the 20-acre gated development claim the HOA has imposed an illegal levy for a controversial road-repair project that carries a price tag of nearly $700,000. The Business Journal article



Bicycle safety workshop organizers hope more will bike to work — Kari McNickle says that when it comes to bicycles, there are three types of residents in Stockton. Those who “would fearlessly ride on any street.” Those who never, ever would consider riding a bike to work. And those who are just waiting to be convinced to cycle more and drive their cars less. Stockton Record article


Other areas

Critic levels ethics charges against Tubbs – A long-time critic of Michael Tubbs said Friday he has filed a conflict-of-interest complaint against the city councilman over several votes by the newly announced mayoral candidate to allocate funds to a community organization upon whose board he serves. Stockton Record article

Hanford settles lawsuit with former manager – A wrongful termination lawsuit filed by a former Hanford department head was settled this week for $237,500. Former Parks and Recreation Director J. Dean Johns filed the lawsuit through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in July 2014. Johns was fired from his position in May 2013 after less than one year on the job. Hanford Sentinel article 

Mike Dunbar: Letters spark some important conversations – There are letters to the editor that have called me an idiot, a communist, a reactionary and/or just plain wrong. Still, I enjoy reading them. Most of the time. Trying to hurt my feelings won’t work, and it won’t be enough to get a letter rejected. An editorial writer’s skin is pretty thick (just like his head, I can hear someone saying). Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Oleander coyote: Should he stay or should he go? – The coyote hops the backyard fence, stretches out in a garden of cool ivy beneath the shade of a mature tree, and rests. It’s hardly the natural habitat of a North American coyote, but this is no typical coyote. Residents of the Oleander neighborhood in central Bakersfield — where some say the half-wild canine, or possibly two, have lived for years — are wondering what happens next, now that plans to capture and relocate the animal have been put on hold indefinitely. Bakersfield Californian article

Animal shelters improving, officials say, but activists call conditions inhumane – The running battle over the treatment of dogs and cats in government-run shelters in the Los Angeles area has produced a mixed, intensely disputed record of reform and has left animal rights activists and many city and county officials at odds. LA Times article 

DMV employees wind up taking extended potty breaks — What started as a messy bathroom backup at the DMV’s administrative headquarters at Broadway near Highway 99 in Sacramento turned into an extra day off for hundreds of staff on Friday after plumbers discovered a drain line from one building needed repair. Sacramento Bee article



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Modesto Bee – Our Views: Modesto has a taste for kindness, who buys a building without paperwork and other issues. 

Sacramento Bee – Europe is in crisis, while America sits on the sidelines.