September 7, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

Dan Walters: Unions are strong in California now, but face peril — It appears that unions are pushing their agendas more vigorously than usual this year, and dozens of other union-backed bills are certain to reach Brown, who has a seesaw relationship with labor leaders. Perhaps the intensity has something to do with political and judicial trends that may be loosening labor’s grip on the Capitol. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

George Skelton: Labor needs to stop using environmental law to kill jobs – It’s not polite to call out union leaders on Labor Day, but let’s be frank: Some are costing workers jobs. But in this state we’ve got a widely abused law called the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. And labor is one of its biggest abusers, contributing to California’s reputation as a lousy place to invest and do business. Skelton column in LA Times


State budget

California’s share of Indian gambling money dwindles — A key court decision, a switch in governors and changing casino economics mean that tribal payments to the state’s general fund – which totaled $241 million last year – are beginning to shift elsewhere. Sacramento Bee article


Other areas

California Assembly to vote on diminished bill package to curb psychotropic drug use on foster children — With less than a week left before the end of the legislative session, intensive lobbying by physicians groups and cost concerns have undermined progress on the centerpiece of a bill package designed to end the excessive use of psychotropic drugs on California’s foster youth. San Jose Mercury News article


News Stories

Top Stories 

Valley leaders take transportation, water issues to D.C. — Local officials in the San Joaquin Valley will make their annual trip to Washington, D.C., to press the region’s concerns about transportation and water. The Valley Voice delegation, as it’s called, will meet with members of Congress and other federal officials Tuesday and Wednesday. Modesto Bee article

Budget, vandalism result in long delays for repairs to Modesto’s parks –Apparently, it generally takes a year or longer for Modesto playground equipment to get fixed. There are several reasons for this, said Park Operations Supervisor Kelly Gallagher.  Modesto Bee article


Jobs and the Economy 

Modesto considers sales tax oversight panel – The Modesto City Council is expected to take a step Tuesday toward forming an oversight committee that would review how Measure G — a one-half percent general sales tax on the November ballot — is spent. Modesto Bee article

U.S. task force warns cities on efforts against homeless camps — Both the Department of Justice and a federal interagency task force have challenged efforts nationwide that have aimed to “criminalize” homelessness — something critics have accused Los Angeles city leaders of doing with a recent crackdown on encampments. LA Times article 

Steve Flores: Cotton fields and the meaning of Labor Day — Labor Day will always stir memories of me and my brother Willie bending over picking those cotton balls by hand in those old cotton fields back home…in southeast Bakersfield. Now that’s labor. Flores column in Bakersfield Californian

Obama to require federal contractors to provide paid sick leave – President Obama plans to sign an executive order on Monday requiring federal contractors to provide up to seven days of paid sick leave a year, his latest use of executive power to change the rules of the American workplace, the White House said. New York Times article; LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: The haves and have-nots of paid family leave — As the “Fight for $15” has preoccupied blue-collar workers, the high end of the workforce has discovered a new privilege: paid family leave.  Sacramento Bee editorial

Does Carson’s mayor, a leader in city’s NFL stadium push, live in Carson? — Much is riding on where Robles lives. State law generally requires that elected officials live in the communities they represent. If Robles’ primary residence is the apartment building near USC, he would be ineligible to serve as Carson’s mayor at a time he is spearheading the city’s push to bring professional football back to the L.A. area. LA Times article 

Apple building second-largest campus in Austin — The tech giant is transforming a 38-acre wooded lot into its largest global operation outside of Silicon Valley, the Austin American-Statesman reported ( ). In line to receive $35 million in tax incentives from the city, county and state for its Austin expansion, Apple has pledged to create 3,600 new jobs while retaining at least 3,100 existing jobs. AP article

San Francisco rents soar even higher in August — The report, which charts the top 10 most expensive American cities in which to lease a one-bedroom apartment, shows San Francisco’s median rent at $3,530. This is a jump of .9% quarter-over-quarter and 13.9% year-over-year. San Francisco Chronicle article



Salinas Valley’s thriving crops mask fears over area’s lone water source – At a time when lakes have hit bottom, wells have run dry, and farmland 100 miles away in the Central Valley has gathered dust, the Salinas Valley remains an oasis — a green patchwork quilt of farmland unfurling roughly 90 miles along U.S. 101 north of Paso Robles to Monterey Bay, where the Salinas River meets the ocean. But the verdant landscape hides long-term troubles with the region’s only water source. LA Times article

In Terra Bella Irrigation District, more than half the citrus trees are gone — No doubt the Terra Bella district south of Porterville has been hardest hit with at least 5,000 fewer acres due to the drought. In the Central Valley, Citrus Mutual president Joel Nelsen says they estimate over the past two year we have lost about 25,000 citrus acres, mostly Valencia and some early navels he says. Visalia Times-Delta article

San Francisco braces for flooding, service disruptions in El Nino winter – Everybody’s hoping for rain, but a whopping El Niño forecast also has city agencies bracing for a deluge that could postpone projects and disrupt services. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Don Curlee: Climate changes require planning — Without getting bogged down in the controversy around climate change’s causes, two prominent researchers are recommending to farmers that they judiciously prepare for the changes they see occurring. Curlee in Visalia Times-Delta

The grape strike that transformed a nation, 50 years later — On Sept. 8, 1965, Lorraine Agtang, her family and other Filipino grape pickers walked out of their fields to protest a cut in their pay from $1.40 to $1.25 an hour. Twelve days later, labor organizer Cesar Chavez and more than 1,200 Mexican workers joined the strike that led to the first United Farm Workers contracts with growers in 1970. This weekend, hundreds of former and current labor activists, both Filipino and Mexican American, flowed into the Central Valley town of Delano where 50 years ago, they launched the Delano grape strike that altered the course of American history. Sacramento Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Police shooting protests help highlight plight of mentally ill in jails — The swift and shocking arrests of three Santa Clara County jail guards on suspicion of murder in the death of Tyree, who was white, signals that the heightened focus on police brutality will also raise awareness on a growing crisis confronting another often-ignored part of society — the mentally ill in our country’s jails and prisons. Contra Costa Times article 

On Duty with the CHP: Officer feels honor of wearing the badge — Since 1929, California Highway Patrol officers have worn the same badge while performing their duties. Have you ever wondered what the CHP badge means? What is the significance of each of the seven points on the star? How do officers get assigned their badge numbers? Why do officers take so much pride in what their numbers mean? Why is it such an honor to wear the CHP badge and the uniform? I get asked these questions everywhere I go. On Duty with the CHP column in Fresno Bee



Victor E. Bulldog III continues the animal magnetism as Fresno State’s mascot – The search for Fresno State University’s newest, most prominent figurehead was rigorous, involving a fact-finding committee, photos, video, dozens of interviews and a flight from Arizona. The result is Victor E. Bulldog III, the English bulldog mascot selected to be the school’s new four-legged ambassador in a tradition that has persisted on and off for 80 years. Since he arrived in June, he’s attracted more than 1,500 followers on Twitter and 2,300 on Instagram. LA Times article

USC helps students graduate on time by pinpointing what’s holding them back — After crunching the data, USC administrators realized that students who weren’t on pace to graduate on time failed to complete their language requirements. They began watching for students who had not finished those courses by the end of their sophomore year. LA Times article



Fire crews gain ground against biggest California wildfire – Cooler temperatures helped fire crews gain some ground against a vast and stubborn wildfire that has proven California’s biggest this year. Cal Fire says the fire that has charred 134 square miles east of Fresno was 31 percent contained Sunday. But officials say temperatures will slowly rise through the holiday weekend. AP article; LA Times article; Fresno Bee article 

New mosquito control method pits the pests against themselves in Clovis — The male mosquitoes had been dusted with an insecticide that is harmless to them and their mates, but a pairing with females should produce baby mosquitoes that wither and never develop into mature, biting pests. As strange as it sounds, Holeman said: “We’re turning mosquitoes into mosquito-control workers.” Fresno Bee article

Expo to show firefighting candidates what will be required — California fire officials say the state’s growing risk of fires has created a growing demand for firefighters. Men and women who are interested in firefighting careers are encouraged to attend the Firefighter Career Expo. Officials said the event will connect future firefighters with departments hiring the next generation of first responders. Stockton Record article


Health/Human Services

Concierge medicine: Like having a doctor on speed dial — Under a concierge-style practice, patients pay a monthly or annual fee, typically $1,200 to $2,000 a year, in exchange for longer appointment times, same-day visits and round-the-clock access to their doctor by cellphone, text or email. Some concierge doctors even make house calls. Practice styles vary. Sacramento Bee article



Who decides speed limits? Here’s the surprising answer – State law requires cities to measure the speeds that drivers travel on certain – but notably not all – streets, and use the results to adjust speed limits. The streets where local officials are required to do “speed surveys” are known in the traffic engineer lingo as collectors and arterials. Sacramento Bee article

Bacon Island Project completed — Getting there is getting a whole lot easier. The California Department of Transportation has completed a major road project on Highway 4 west of Stockton. The $11.5 million Bacon Island Project widened and upgraded roadway intersections, repaved distressed areas, added shoulders and added rumble strips down the center to warn drivers if they go over into oncoming traffic. Stockton Record article


Other areas

Judge: Supervisor Couch’s firing was lawful – Filings in an ongoing legal battle between Kern County Supervisor David Couch and the financial services firm that fired him years ago offer new insight into how the dispute played out. Bakersfield Californian article 

Fresno’s Herrera puts early stamp on tenure as U.S. poet laureate — Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino U.S. poet laureate, is thinking in epic terms. Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C., he announced his official project, one of the traditional job requirements for a poet laureate. “It’s going to be one big epic poem,” the Fresno poet said in a phone interview before the announcement. Fresno Bee article

Modesto writer, meal, auction combine to help library – Modesto writer Paula Treick DeBoard, a catered meal and a popular dessert auction come together later this month to raise funds for Stanislaus County’s libraries. The event Sept. 26 at a private home generally takes in about $30,000 for the libraries, according to Pat Portwood, president of the Stanislaus Library Foundation, which helps fund several programs at the county’s 13 branches. Modesto Bee article

Falasco name to be transferred to new courthouse – The new courthouse being constructed in Los Banos will retain its name, according to Merced County Superior Court CEO Linda Romero-Soles. The name Robert M. Falasco Justice Center will be transferred to the new facility, Romero-Soles confirmed in an email to the Enterprise. Los Banos Enterprise article

Dreams take flight at Castle Air Museum’s Open Cockpit Day — The outdoor museum on Sunday was crawling with people crawling in and out of vintage aircraft, when permitted. Others peered inside from viewing stands built by local high school students. Still others worked on model airplanes, feasted on carnival-type food and “rode” in an aircraft simulation module.  Modesto Bee article 

Steve Lopez: A new skirmish in battle for Malibu beach access — If you’re headed to the beach this holiday weekend, beware the killjoys who might try to boot you off the sand, especially in Malibu. Yes, I know. You’ve heard this story before, given the long history of clashes between high and mighty and the hoi polloi. But the class struggle continues, and I’ve got the latest from the front lines. Lopez column in LA Times



Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – As the “Fight for $15” has preoccupied blue-collar workers, the high end of the workforce has discovered a new privilege: paid family leave.

Sacramento Bee – As the “Fight for $15” has preoccupied blue-collar workers, the high end of the workforce has discovered a new privilege: paid family leave.