September 6, 2014


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Political Briefs

Top stories

California waits on Congress for action or – more than likely – inaction – Congress is returning to plenty of unfinished California business. Then, it will soon depart again, leaving most of the Golden State goals still unmet.  McClatchy Newspapers article

John Myers: Analysis: Impact of Brown-Kashkari debate … debatable – When Gov. Jerry Brown walked into the studios of The California Channel Thursday night, ten minutes before the cameras went live, he so completely ignored Neel Kashkari that the challenger awkwardly decided to get up, walk over, and gently introduce himself. By the time the debate was over, as everyone saw, the GOP contender clearly had Brown’s attention. Still, don’t be surprised if that doesn’t last.  Myers in KQED

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Brown, Kashkari provide partial truths in debate – Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and his Republican challenger, Neel Kashkari, covered a lot of ground in Thursday’s night gubernatorial debate. An examination of some of the issues they debated and a reality check on some of their claims. AP article

Gubernatorial debate draws distinctions – before and after – Thursday night’s face-off between Gov. Jerry Brown and Neel Kashkari drew all the sharp distinctions to be expected in a debate between two candidates of opposing political parties, generations and upbringings. Their after-debate performances, even more so.  LA Times article

Kashkari struggles to hit partisan balance in debate with Gov. Brown –  To Californians who shun Republicans, gubernatorial hopeful Neel Kashkari takes pains to show he’d break with party tradition if elected: He backs same-sex marriage, federal action against global warming and drivers licenses for immigrants who are in the country illegally.  LA Times article

Post-debate, Neel Kashkari back on radio goading Brown – One day after attacking Jerry Brown on a range of issues in a gubernatorial debate, Republican Neel Kashkari returned on Friday to lower-profile turf – talk radio – for a series of interviews goading the incumbent governor.  Capitol Alert

Sacramento Bee: One debate in governor’s race just is not enough – It was fine as a first debate. Problem is, it will probably be the only debate leading up to the Nov. 4 election – unless the governor relents. Sacramento Bee editorial

George Skelton: We don’t need another debate, but Brown could use one – The debate will be plenty, thank you. Gov. Jerry Brown was right. There’s really no need for an encore performance.  Skelton column in LA Times

In California governor’s race, the risk of running a low-risk campaign – In many ways, the campaign that Mr. Brown is running is politically conventional and arguably smart. Strong incumbents have little incentive to take risks or do anything that might draw attention to little-known challengers.  New York Times article

Zero is a good number for Brown to take from debate – People looking for the biggest takeaway from Thursday night’s mano-a-mano meeting between Gov. Jerry Brown and Republican Neel Kashkari can focus on a single figure: zero. That’s the total number of press releases and statements the governor’s team sent out after the hour-long event, televised live from Sacramento.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Secretary of State Bowen tells of struggle with depression – Two months before Californians go to the polls to choose a governor, the state’s top elections official tearfully acknowledged Friday that she has been consumed by a “debilitating” depression that has often kept her away from the office.  LA Times article


White House border request could spark battle over funding bill – Hopes for a drama-free return to Congress hit a snag Friday as the White House asked lawmakers to accelerate spending to handle the migrant children at the Southwestern border — a request that could spark a fresh round of shutdown politics.  LA Times article

Other areas

Lawmakers’ lunch shows vagueness of meetings law – City council and school board members gathering for dinners, parties or other social affairs must guard their words or notify the public beforehand if a majority will attend and talk policy. The same rules do not apply for state lawmakers, who have long exempted themselves from the transparency rules that apply to other elected bodies in California.  AP article

Sacramento’s power players line up behind strong-mayor proposal – Sacramento’s power players are lining up to support Johnson’s proposal to consolidate more clout in the mayor’s office. In doing so, they’re seeking a cleaner, easier path to getting things done at City Hall.  Sacramento Bee article

News Briefs

Top Stories

Temperance Flat plan takes next step: release of draft EIS – The campaign for a larger reservoir on the San Joaquin River took another step forward Friday with the release of a draft Environmental Impact Study outlining options to build Temperance Flat, northeast of Fresno.  Fresno Bee article

Kern County plans to fine LA for Lebec green waste dump – Kern County’s agricultural commissioner plans to fine a Los Angeles sanitation agency $895,500 for shipping uncomposted green waste to Lebec, saying it threatened the county’s $7 billion ag industry.  Bakersfield Californian articleLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno police officers union, city reach labor deal – Fresno police have approved a new deal that promises three years of labor peace and more than $7 million of savings for City Hall. The current contract for rank-and-file officers and management would have run through June 30, 2015. The new deal goes into effect when approved by the City Council and would run through June 30, 2017.  Fresno Bee article

Fresno State index forecasts continued economic growth – The central San Joaquin Valley’s economy is forecast to continue expanding, according to a survey of business purchasing executives across the region.  Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield home market softened in August – Bakersfield’s residential real estate market continued to weaken in August, further shifting from a sellers’ market to one favoring buyers, according to a preliminary report released Friday by appraiser and local housing observer Gary Crabtree.  Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto loses money on grand prix – The city lost nearly $78,000 putting on its first Modesto Grand Prix, which featured superkart drivers racing along downtown streets last month before thousands of spectators.  Modesto Bee article

Restaurant seeks $5,000 from Modesto over grand prix losses – A downtown restaurant has filed a $5,000 claim against the city for the losses it sustained during the Modesto Grand Prix. Harvest Moon Restaurant owners Charlyne and Mark Smallwood filed their claim seeking to be reimbursed for the wages their employees lost and the sales their business lost during last month’s grand prix.  Modesto Bee article

The Fed: Yes, income inequality is as bad as you thought – It doesn’t get much more official than this. The Federal Reserve says that the rich have gotten richer from the economic recovery while the majority of Americans have been left behind ”consistent with increasing income concentration during this period.” And those at the bottom of the heap are being pushed down further than ever.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Jobs may be at risk as fate of Export-Import Bank is debated – Thousands of jobs in Southern California and across the nation could be in jeopardy as politicians wrangle over the fate of an obscure, 80-year-old federal agency that helps U.S. companies sell their products overseas. LA Times article

Modesto Bee: A cautious but hopeful Stanislaus County budget – The document was released Friday, but we got a sneak peek at the executive summary Thursday. In budgets, the devil is always in the details – which we haven’t yet begun to ponder. But we did form some first impressions.  Modesto Bee editorial

Modesto Bee: Help the disabled by fixing ADA lawsuits – If unscrupulous lawyers and phony victims are taking advantage of a 24-year-old law to harm so many – business owners, customers and the very people the ADA was designed to protect – then the law has clearly failed. It’s time to fix it. It’s time the law included some justice.  Modesto Bee article

Oxy spinoff delays proposed energy plant – A $4 billion, 200-employee energy and chemical plant proposed in western Kern County has been placed on hold because of Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s spinoff of its California operations.  Bakersfield Californian article

Possible new county hospital CEO would earn $500,000 – The CEO of Kern Medical Center is asking county supervisors to spend $520,000 on a fill-in chief financial officer for the county hospital, more than double what his would-be predecessor was making.  Bakersfield Californian article

Tesla mines gold in Silver State – Nevada’s economic incentives for Tesla Motors won the state a coveted battery factory and an estimated 6,500 jobs, but at one of the highest costs a state has ever paid to lure a company — nearly $1.3 billion.  LA Times article

LA mayor’s minimum wage plan doesn’t go far enough, activists say – Activists behind a grass-roots campaign to boost L.A.’s minimum wage argue that a new plan touted by Mayor Eric Garcetti does not go far enough to pull low-paid workers out of poverty.  LA Times article

19 Valley businesses among top sales tax debtors – Nineteen businesses in the Central Valley have been branded by the state Board of Equalization among the “top 500″ delinquencies that owe the largest amounts in sales and use taxes to the state.  Fresno Bee article


El Niño or no this winter, it’s adapt or perish – again – As this desperately dry year turns toward fall, those whose livelihoods depend on rain and snow will seek out any hint of what’s to come.They’ll devour complex reports about El Niño, and hang their hopes on the temperature of the ocean thousands of miles away.They are searching for at least some level of certainty. But it seems almost cruel that this year, of all years, there is no certainty to be found.  Stockton Record article

Almond growers struggle to cope with little surface water, salt in groundwater – 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.  Merced Sun-Star/Modesto Bee articleStockton Record article

Farm Beat: Families sometimes struggle to feed themselves – One in seven of the nation’s households struggled at some point last year to have enough to eat, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported this week. Meanwhile, an estimated 35 to 40 percent of the U.S. food supply is wasted as it moves from farm to processor to grocery store to kitchen.  Modesto Bee article

School districts differ on drought plans – With the state drought worsening, schools are trying to do their part in conserving water. Since the beginning of the year, schools have reduced their water usage by at least 25 percent, although some districts are cutting back more than others. Lemoore Union Elementary School District is one of them.  Hanford Sentinel article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Prolific identity thief caught in Madera County – The Madera County Sheriff’s Office caught a prolific identity thief around noon on Friday after receiving two anonymous calls on his whereabouts.  Fresno Bee article

Tulare County authorities bring Mano Negra back to face murder charges – Jose Manuel Martinez, known as the Mano Negra — the Black Hand — in small Valley towns where he allegedly killed people as a contract killer, is back in Tulare County.  Fresno Bee article


New Common Core math standards add up to big changes – Some say the new Common Core math standards are too easy. Others say they’re too hard or too focused on ideas rather than correct answers. Whatever they are, they’re in full effect in California public school classrooms this year.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Dyer: Quick police work on Bullard case may have averted disaster – The day after the threat of a shooting and bomb scare caused panic at Bullard High School, Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said Friday one of three suspects arrested was an alienated 17-year-old with access to firearms who may have posed a serious danger if he had not been apprehended.  Fresno Bee article

Loaded gun found on school bus, two students arrested – Two high school students were arrested Friday morning near Calaveras High School after a loaded gun was brought onto a school bus, sheriff’s officials said.  Stockton Record article

Fresno State to receive more than $2 million worth of artist’s paintings, journals – The Henry Madden Library at Fresno State will receive a series of gifts — valued at $2.2 million — over the next 20 years from the family of artist Rollin Pickford.  Fresno Bee article

Cal State Northridge fraternity shuts after pledge’s death – A Cal State Northridge fraternity under scrutiny since the death of a 19-year-old student while pledging this summer has closed, university officials announced Friday.  LA Times article


Lawmaker calls for redirecting PG&E’s blast penalty – Dissatisfied that fines dominate the $1.4 billion penalty that two state administrative law judges have levied against PG&E for the deadly San Bruno gas explosion, a state senator said Friday that he will introduce a bill earmarking most of the fine for pipeline improvements instead of the state’s general fund.  San Francisco Chronicle articleAP article

John Sutter: 7 ways to save the San Joaquin River – The CNN columnist writes, “For the San Joaquin to once again flow to the ocean — and support a salmon population, as it once did — it needs plenty of help. Here are seven ways you can support this neglected waterway.” Sutter in CNN

Mariposa County fire burns 700 acres, threatens 300 homes – The Bridge fire in Mariposa County burned 300 acres and threatened 700 homes and five businesses Friday, authorities said. Fresno Bee articleMerced Sun-Star article

Air quality grants will benefit Merced cyclists, pedestrians – Merced’s miles of bicycle paths and lanes will increase after the city this week accepted a large part of more than $2 million in grants for citywide air quality projects.  Merced Sun-Star article

PUC calls for revisions in Son Onofre shutdown cost settlement –  An agreement on paying for the closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant near San Clemente needs to be more favorable to consumers, state regulators said Friday.  LA Times article

Craig Manson: Hetch Hetchy lawsuit a reminder on species law – The executive director of the Center for Environmental Science, Accuracy and Reliability writes, “No lasting solution to the decline of endangered species can be found until all the causes are fully understood and addressed. And no California water project, or water users, can be exempt from the sacrifices that protecting species sometimes requires.” Manson op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Health/Human Services

UC president encourages Fresno students in health careers – University of California President Janet Napolitano made a rare visit to the central San Joaquin Valley on Friday to meet with UCSF Fresno Doctors Academy students who aspire to be doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals. Napolitano encouraged the high school students to pursue health careers — and assured them that they can afford a higher education.  Fresno Bee article

One of the worst West Nile seasons continues in Fresno County – Fresno County residents are experiencing one of the worst years for West Nile virus, say public health and mosquito control officials. More people have become seriously ill this year from the infection.  Fresno Bee article

West Nile virus at highest level detected, state says – According to California’s top health officer, people are especially taking a gamble this month if they are bitten by mosquitoes. Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the state Department of Public Health, said the proportion of mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus is at a record level in California.  Modesto Bee article

Marco Ocana: DREAMER: ‘We all deserve health care’ – The Fresno resident writes, “Despite the virtues of DACA, it doesn’t adequately and clearly address health-care coverage for DACA participants. Some of us are eligible for coverage through Medi-Cal, but we are excluded from affordable health insurance options available through the Affordable Care Act.” Ocana op-ed in Fresno Bee

Valley Crisis Center opens Purple Purse campaign to fight domestic violence – Advocates at the Valley Crisis Center say they are trying something new this year to raise money by taking a page from the ice bucket challenge, which has been a phenomenal success for another charity.  Merced Sun-Star article

Land Use/Housing

Visalia could vote on General Plan update – Visalia’s city council could vote to approve the city’s new 2030 General Plan Update during a special meeting on Monday.  Visalia Times-Delta article


Streamlined RTD more efficient, but riders need more local routes – After years of cuts to bus service in the city, fewer people are riding, but the routes have become more efficient, transit officials said, with buses carrying more passengers per hour than before.  Stockton Record article

Other Areas

In Stanford linguistics study, the accent is on how Californians speak – Californians – most of them, at least – know that the way they talk doesn’t fit into the ubiquitous stereotype of the surfer dude-Valley Girl accent. But the state’s residents also tend to overlook the regional differences that do exist in their word choices and speech inflections, as well as the way their personal perspectives on life in California shape their language.  Sacramento Bee article

Transit workers demand agency leaders’ removal – Union workers with the San Joaquin Regional Transit District on Friday submitted a petition calling for the removal of the agency’s appointed Board of Directors and its administration.  Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Gov. Brown should agree to a second debate with GOP rival Kashkari; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Merced Sun-Star – If unscrupulous lawyers and phony victims are taking advantage of a 24-year-old law to harm so many – business owners, customers and the very people the ADA was designed to protect – thenthe law has clearly failed. It’s time to fix it. It’s time the law included some justice.

Modesto Bee – If unscrupulous lawyers and phony victims are taking advantage of a 24-year-old law to harm so many – business owners, customers and the very people the ADA was designed to protect – then the law has clearly failed. It’s time to fix it. It’s time the law included some justice; A cautious but hopeful Stanislaus County budget.

Sacramento Bee – One debate in governor’s race just is not enough.