September 6, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories 

Nine weeks before election, here are the 12 California congressional races we’re watching — Thirty of California’s 49 House incumbents secured more than 60% of the vote in the June primary. All were Democrats, except for Republican Reps. Tom McClintock of Elk Grove, Ed Royce of Fullerton, and Devin Nunes of Tulare. Nonetheless, the nonpartisan analysts at Cook Political Report consider seven California House Districts as having the potential to change parties — and just one of them a likely turnover. Here’s a look at some of the races we’ll be keeping a particularly close eye on from now until election day. Included: Races involving Valley Republicans Jeff Denham and David Valadao.  LA Times article 

The California voter ordeal: 17 decisions on the ballot – Pity the California voter. Seventeen voter initiatives are on the state ballot in November, a glut of citizen-lawmaking that could, among other things, end the death penalty, legalize recreational marijuana, impose a tax surcharge on the wealthy and place limits on prescription drug costs. New York Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

California Assembly Dems eye supermajority – Democrats in the California Assembly need to pick up only a couple of seats in the November elections to win two-thirds control of the chamber. Meanwhile, Donald Trump has performed terribly against Hillary Clinton in the last few California polls. Capital Public Radio report 

State’s role in building schools at issue in battle over Prop 51 – Proposition 51 would kickstart a largely dormant state school construction and modernization program and maintain the state’s major role in paying for it. It would prevent sharp increases in new-home construction fees as well as preserve a local development planning process favored by home builders. Sacramento Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: Take a stand on Citizens United — Proposition 59 is only advisory. But overwhelming approval could pressure California’s members of Congress to seek a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that has flooded campaigns with corporate and union cash. Sacramento Bee editorial 

U.S. Senate candidates can’t agree on debate schedule — The race between two Democrats to succeed retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer in California continues to be a sluggish one, but it may get even slower if the two candidates can’t agree on a debate schedule. KPBS report

California’s Prop 61 seeks to lower drug prices, increase transparency — Counting on the growing public outrage over the soaring costs of prescription drugs — and bolstered by the recent fury generated by huge price hikes for lifesaving EpiPens — Proposition 61 proponents are gearing up for one of the most highly anticipated ballot measure showdowns this election season. San Jose Mercury News article


Obama administration considers closing for-profit immigrant detention facilities — The Obama administration is considering an end to the practice of keeping immigrant detainees in for-profit centers, weeks after the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced it would stop its use of private prisons. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Cathleen Decker: On Labor Day, two candidates focus on one topic: Donald Trump – The final sprint of the presidential election began Monday with abundant clarity about what will dominate the next 63 days: defining Donald Trump. Decker in LA Times 

Joe Altschule: Welcome to Trump’s phony bubble world – Bill Clinton left this country with a balanced budget, something Trump refuses to even discuss. Instead, Trump embarked on a crusade trying to prove that President Obama is not an American, not a Christian, and not even eligible to serve as president. By doing so, Trump revealed himself to be nothing more than just another fool buying into more crazy conspiracy theories.Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Tom Fife: Trump’s immigration plan must include Bracero Program — Come 2017 and beyond, workers will still be needed here. Any smart immigration plan must include a guest worker component. Guest workers, like water, are a legitimate concern here in the Valley. Limited water and a limited labor pool collectively impact the US food supply and therefore, US national security. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

News Stories

Top Stories

Armed officers now stand guard in Fresno County jail lobbies; injured officers still critical — Armed officers were standing guard inside the lobbies of Fresno County jails on Monday, even as two correctional officers who were shot two days earlier continued to fight for their lives at Community Regional Medical Center. And other new safety precautions at the jail lobbies could be in the offing. Fresno Bee article; AP article 

Kern High School District’s $43,000 bond mailer raises questions — In bold the mailer reads: “The Kern High School District Repair and Modernization Plan.” It boasts of student accomplishments, laments the deteriorating state of school facilities, and specifically mentions the district’s $280 million bond measure as a way “to serve our growing population of students.” Does that sound like it’s advocating for a school bond?Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy 

State Judicial Council: ‘We are out of money’ for court construction – State judicial officials voted last month to delay more than two dozen courthouse construction projects in 26 counties, saying budget shortfalls have drained the money needed to fund them. Sacramento Bee article

As pensions eat budget, what can counties do? – Public pension debt took an unusual bite out of taxes in Sonoma County last year, playing a role in the rejection of a 1Ž4-cent sales tax increase by 63 percent of voters. Calpensions article 

Pay by the mile or at the pump? A gas tax experiment – California faces a $59 billion backlog of deferred maintenance on roads and bridges. Drivers in the state pay some of the highest gas taxes in the country but they haven’t kept pace with rising construction costs. And increasing fuel efficiency means revenues will fall even more in the future. So state officials are testing out a new way to pay for road repairs: Charging people for the miles they drive instead of the gas they buy. KPCC report 

Get ready to pay more for fire inspections – The city of Merced is looking at a plan to spend less on fire inspections, which means they’d cost landowners more. Merced Sun-Star article 

No ‘For Sale’ sign? Silicon Valley buyers aren’t deterred – Swell-looking home you’ve got here. Ever think about selling it? How about to me, right now? That is increasingly the approach the house-hungry are using in Silicon Valley, where the number of homes on the market is so small that would-be buyers are driven to desperation. Their solution: seek out homes that are, in theory at least, not for sale. New York Times article 

Turlock horse betting gets reprieve, hopes to improve its chances – The Turlock off-track horse racing gambling facility has been less profitable in recent years, leaving its future in jeopardy at the Stanislaus County Fairgrounds. There was some discussion about the facility being moved to another location. But fair officials announced last week the Turlock Turf Club will remain open at its current location, at least through Oct. 2. Modesto Bee article 

Refurbish project at Tulare outlets to add visibility — A refurbishing project will bring a new, brighter look to the Tulare outlet’s tower. Started two weeks ago, the refurbishing project calls for replacing signage on the tower with signs advertising 15 of the center’s tenants, said Patty Rocha, the center’s general manager. The new signage will have LED lettering. Visalia Times-Delta article 

California League: Going out in a Blaze of glory — Bakersfield resident Tim Wheeler has seen hundreds of ceremonial first pitches tossed to home plate through the years. But when Wheeler, the Bakersfield Blaze’s official scorekeeper for the past 22 years, was honored by the Ports on Monday by throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Stockton Ballpark, it happened to be the last ceremonial pitch of Bakersfield’s final regular season as a member of the California League. Stockton Record article 

After explosion, SpaceX satellite customer says it’s due $50 million or free ride — The costs of the SpaceX rocket explosion Thursday are starting to roll in. The customer whose satellite blew up with the rocket, Space Communication Ltd., based in Israel, said in a conference call Sunday that it could seek $50 million or a free flight, according to a Reuters report. LA Times article

Around San Francisco’s arts scene, the state of unions is strong — The organized labor movement in San Francisco may have weakened to the point that unions can no longer muster a Labor Day parade up Market Street, but there are still an estimated 100,000 union workers in the city. This week, more than any other, their cultural might is at work. San Francisco Chronicle article


State board poised to take new direction in school accountability – After months of drafting, revising and debating how best to measure and improve schools, the State Board of Education this week will adopt key elements of a new and distinct school accountability system. EdSource article 

Modesto board tackles how to pick Student Equity panel — Modesto City Schools trustees are scheduled to take up how to fill the limited seats of their Student Equity Subcommittee and discuss replacing decade-old English textbooks on Tuesday. Modesto Bee article 

Joshua Pechthalt: Don’t let millionaires dictate fate of California schools – The president of the California Federation of Teachers writes, “One of the key questions in the national debate is whether the decisions that affect our kids will be made by parents, teachers and elected representatives. Or will millionaires and billionaires, including Eli Broad and the Waltons, use their enormous wealth to dictate what should happen in our schools and classrooms?” Pechthalt op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Big test for Cal students: Affordable housing in costly market — With housing prices sky-high in an ultracompetitive market, Glover can’t afford to live near where he goes to school — so he’s staying with his parents. He’s one of many UC Berkeley students who, given the alternative of paying bloated housing costs for a tiny living space, are commuting from afar. San Francisco Chronicle article


Environmentalists, state settle differences over hazardous waste site — In what both sides are calling “historic,” state agencies and environmental justice groups settled an administrative civil rights complaint filed with the federal Environmental Protection Agency that objected to how some Kettleman City residents were treated in the permitting process for Chemical Waste Management Inc.’s hazardous waste landfill near Kettleman City. Fresno Bee article 

Is the capsized Spirit of Sacramento polluting the Delta? — State and federal officials were working Monday to detect any possible fuel spill in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta after a former Sacramento-based tour boat capsized with hundreds of gallons of diesel aboard. Sacramento Bee article; AP article

Health/Human Services 

Location, health insurance and new provisions make for medical provider shortages – Merced County is ranked 43 out of the 58 counties in California on primary care physician-to-patient ratio, according to The Merced County 2016 Community Health Assessment, while the entire county is considered a health professional shortage area. Merced Sun-Star article 

Outreach to at-risk communities crucial to diabetes prevention — At the senior center in Kerman, Rosendo Iniguez demonstrates how to cook a more healthful version of empanadas. Although such traditional Latino dishes are typically high in calories, fat and carbs, Iniguez is showing how diabetics can create healthier versions by making simple substitutions. California Health Report article 

MannKind developing inhalable epinephrine to challenge Mylan’s EpiPen – A Valencia drugmaker that has tried to convince diabetics to inhale rather than inject their insulin is working on a product that will make a similar pitch to a new group of patients: severe allergy sufferers who rely on Mylan Pharmaceuticals’ pricey EpiPen. LA Times article

Daniel Weintraub: More reasons for kids to cut down on added sugar – Public health advocates looking to reduce Americans’ consumption of sugar just got a big boost from the American Heart Association, which issued new guidelines urging parents to limit how much of the sweet stuff they feed their kids. Weintraub in Sacramento Bee 

Dignity Health trains providers to recognize trafficking victims — The new Dignity Health Human Trafficking Victims Program hopes to change this by educating all health care professionals at their 39 hospitals, about what human trafficking is, how to identify its victims, and how to handle suspected trafficking cases. Several states including Florida and Michigan now require health care workers to undergo some type of human trafficking training as part of their regular licensing process. California Health Report article

Other areas 

Carmen George: Fresno woman with large birthmark starts social experiment that leads to ‘Embrace You’ — Walking past a group of street artists earlier this year, Crystal Hodges of Fresno thought of the large birthmark on her face and wondered: If I asked them to draw me, would they include it? A few weeks later, the 25-year-old took to the streets of San Francisco, ready to find out. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Two North Valley school board members must quit without delay. 

Sacramento Bee – If not school boards, try another way to help kids; Proposition 59 is only advisory. But overwhelming approval could pressure California’s members of Congress to seek a constitutional amendment to overturn a Supreme Court ruling that has flooded campaigns with corporate and union cash.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Levee dispute took too long, Mexican officials visit San Joaquin County and other issues.