September 7, 2016


Political Stories

Top stories

Stymied in Legislature, school bond backers go their own way – Home builders, school construction companies and others, bypassing the Capitol, spent millions to gather signatures to qualify a $9 billion school bond for the ballot. Eleventh-hour Capitol negotiations to craft a smaller substitute bond in June went nowhere, securing Proposition 51’s fall placement. Sacramento Bee article 

Foes of tobacco tax hike pour millions into campaign – The campaign over a ballot measure that would raise the state’s tobacco tax by $2 per pack of cigarettes is shaping up as one of the most expensive among the long list of initiatives confronting California voters in November. San Francisco Chronicle article 

On death row, condemned inmates offer surprising views on effort to end death penalty in California – On death row, inmates are conflicted on the prospects of one-shot appeals, mandated lawyer assignments and simplified execution rules meant to rekindle a capital punishment system that hasn’t executed anyone in a decade, or the simple alternative, throw out the death penalty in favor of life without parole. LA Times article

Gov. Brown 

Supporters urge Gov. Brown to sign bill ending statute of limitations for prosecuting rape — Flanked by alleged sexual assault victims and their supporters, state Sen. Connie Leyva (D-Chino) urged Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday to end California’s statute of limitations for rape. The Legislature sent Leyva’s bill, SB 813, to Brown last week. He has until Sept 30 to sign the bill, which would end the time limit in California for prosecuting rape, child sexual abuse and other felony sex crimes. LA Times article 

Valley politics 

Fresno mayor candidates Brand, Perea clash over water, trash, downtown stadium – Fresno’s mayoral candidates clashed Tuesday over discolored water, highway trash, municipal budgets and what to do about Chukchansi Park rent for the Fresno Grizzlies in the first of what will likely be many debates leading up to the Nov. 8 runoff. Fresno Bee article

Silva defense ready to go on the offense – Anthony Silva has been victimized by “outrageous government conduct,” one of his attorneys said Tuesday afternoon, and the mayor’s defense team is calling for suppression of evidence from a warrantless federal search and seizure of his electronic devices nearly a year ago at San Francisco International Airport. Stockton Record article 

Another flap over Bakersfield mayoral campaign signs — Two sign installers for rival mayoral candidates faced off Friday morning in a parking lot, and what happened next depends on who’s doing the talking.Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

California Counts Poll: Big leads for Harris, Yes on 64 – California Attorney General Kamala Harris continues to hold a big lead in the state’s open U.S. Senate race over congresswoman Loretta Sanchez. More than half of respondents, 51 percent, say they would vote for Harris in a new poll commissioned by the California Counts public media collaboration. Just 19 percent favor Sanchez. KQED report 

Is tax extension needed to prevent $4 billion in school cuts? – Proponents of a ballot measure to extend higher taxes in California are running a TV adarguing that the measure is necessary to avoid significant school funding cuts. Sacramento Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: Beware of quick fix offered by wealthy farmer’s initiative – In the guise of combating government debt, Proposition 53 could increase construction costs and add unnecessary layers of complexity and uncertainty to an already unwieldy state government. And voters have a solution if they conclude that legislators abuse revenue bonds: They can vote them out of office. Sacramento Bee editorial

Harris rejects Sanchez debate offer – California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris is refusing a demand from her Senate rival to participate in three additional debates. Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez on Tuesday called for four debates. The proposal was a counter offer to the two debates that Harris announced she would participate in last month. LA Times article 

Loretta Sanchez listed as guest at ‘informational luncheon’ for her Super PAC – A super PAC working to boost Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s underdog bid for U.S. Senate is throwing a Friday afternoon event in Newport Beach featuring a special guest: Loretta Sanchez. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Lopsided spending in California initiative races — Handicapping initiatives based purely on financial resources can be a fool’s errand. Proposition 103, the landmark initiative from 1988 giving the elected state insurance commissioner authority to regulate rates for car, homeowner, property and casualty insurance, was outspent by a whooping 60-to-1. Nonetheless, there’s value in scrutinizing the money chase, and you can do it daily yourself at The Money Trail.  Sacramento Bee article 

5 things to know about California’s death penalty measures — There are two competing measures about the death penalty: Proposition 62 and Proposition 62. Learn more about them and who supports which measure. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas 

Joel Fox: Business losses and wins in legislative bills battle – No one knows for sure what  Governor Brown will do with the 800 bills on his desk that await his signature, but for the business community the recently ended legislative session saw some successes and some big setbacks. Perhaps there are more to come. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

Holly Culhane: Is the 2016 election making us sick, uncivil? — There is also something called “second-hand incivility.” It is the long-term effects on a person who is exposed to rude behavior or speech, whether or not they are the offender or victim. Basically just observing rude behavior can, like a virus, sicken “innocent bystanders” and make them uncivil. That’s pretty scary, particularly as we are in the throes of one of the nastiest presidential races that I can remember. Culhane column in Bakersfield Californian

Presidential Politics 

Steve Lopez: Are there more bigots now than there were before Trump became GOP front-runner? — Here’s what I’ve been wondering since last year, when Donald Trump made race and immigration central to his campaign: Has the country become more bigoted as a result, or does it just seem that way because of how rabid and vocal Trump supporters are? Lopez column in LA Times 

News Stories

Top Stories

11 years later, tribe’s casino plan leaps a key hurdle to reality – A federal judge on Tuesday rejected what she termed a “scorched earth” and wide-ranging legal challenge to the North Fork Rancheria’s proposed casino in Madera County, California. In a sprawling 170-page decision, U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell dismissed an array of arguments raised by casino opponents who have been fighting the controversial project for years.McClatchy Newspapers article

Official: Californians netted strong water savings in July – Residents of drought-stricken California kept up water conservation in July despite the long, hot days near the peak of summer, officials said. AP article

Jobs and the Economy 

An economic mystery: Why are men leaving the workforce? – At 4.9 percent, the nation’s unemployment rate is half of what it was at the height of the Great Recession. But that number hides a big problem: Millions of men in their prime working years have dropped out of the workforce — meaning they aren’t working or even looking for a job. It’s a trend that’s held true for decades and has economists puzzled. NPR report 

Women are paid less than men – but not because they don’t ask for more – Everyone knows women make less money than men. And everyone thought they knew why: because women don’t ask for raises as often as men do. But according to a recent study, that simply isn’t true. It found no evidence that women are paid less because they aren’t aggressive about asking for more money, and also did not support the perception that women don’t ask because they are “more concerned than men about the quality of their relationships in the workplace.” McClatchy Newspapers article 

Report: Valley home prices continue to climb – In Fresno, home prices, including distressed sales, increased by 3.9 percent in July compared with July 2015. On a month-over-month basis, home prices, including distressed sales, decreased by 0.1 percent in July compared with June 2016. The Business Journal article 

Merced home prices climbing amid few available spaces – Merced’s long period of low housing prices is becoming a thing of the past, with limited supply and strong demand fueling a rise in home values, according to local real estate agents. Home prices in Merced jumped 10 percent in July compared with the same time last year, according to CoreLogic, a research firm that tracks home sales. Merced Sun-Star article 

Berkeley City Council finds compromise on raising minimum wage – After a month of back and forth, the Berkeley City Council thinks it has found a compromise over a minimum-wage dispute that has threatened to divide the city. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Ruiz Foods reopens Dinuba factory after pest problem fixed – Ruiz Foods resumed full production at its Dinuba factory on Tuesday, nearly a week after it suspended operations to take care of a pest problem. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article 

Bethany Clough: Smart & Final coming, Walmart to move, more store news – This week’s roundup of retail news includes more action on the ever-changing grocery scene in Fresno and Clovis, and a few other non-grocery stores with familiar names coming to town. Clough in Fresno Bee 

New stores, new look at Vintage Faire Mall – Visitors to Modesto’s Vintage Faire Mall will find some new stores and some longtime tenants with new, upgraded digs. Modesto Bee article

Trash duel in Tulare County – County supervisors voted to end a construction and demolition debris recycling service contract with Peña’s Disposal Inc. last week. The contract expires on Sept. 20, ending an agreement that lasted nearly two years. It was amended once and a request for a second amendment came just before supervisors canceled it, according to county administrators. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Major job losses feared when self-driving cars take to the road — Millions of Americans make a living by driving trucks, delivery vans, taxis and ride-hailing cars. When technology takes the wheel, what will happen to their livelihoods? That question is growing more urgent as the advent of self-driving vehicles accelerates. San Francisco Chronicle article 

LA County supervisors support city bond measure for homeless housing construction – Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to throw their support behind a city bond measure that would raise $1.2 billion to build new housing for the homeless. LA Times article 

Santa Ana city council declares ‘crisis’ over homeless encampments in city center — Santa Ana’s City Council voted late Tuesday to declare a “public health and safety crisis” over a mushrooming homeless encampment in the Civic Center that has attracted more than 450 homeless people in recent months. LA Times article 

Judge backs ballot language for Metro’s sales tax increase proposal – A Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposal to raise Los Angeles County’s base sales tax rate to fund transit and highway projects does not need to be rewritten before appearing on the November ballot, a judge said Tuesday. LA Times article


Lawyers to meet with northeast Fresno residents over water woes – At least two teams of attorneys plan to meet with northeast Fresno residents this week to discuss potential legal solutions to discolored-water problems plaguing that part of the city. Fresno Bee article

Lois Henry: Charges dropped in one Erskine Fire case but upped in another – Turns out the case against Denis Desmond, who ran a barricade during the Erskine Fire on June 23 to get to his wife, nearly went to trial because of a “failure of communication within the District Attorney’s office.” All charges have now been dismissed against Desmond, according to a press release sent out Tuesday. Meanwhile, the office did file misdemeanor charges against Joe Palme for somewhat similar actions, but we’ll come back to that. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

The forecast for Lake Mead: Hot and dry with plenty of anxiety — In the eight decades since the Hoover Dam was completed and Lake Mead was first filled, the projected elevation has never fallen below 1,075 feet has never happened. Then, last month, it did. For a while. Sort of. Maybe. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons 

Correctional officers shot in Fresno County Jail lobby remain in critical condition – Two Fresno County correctional officers remained in critical condition Tuesday – one more serious than the other – following a shooting Saturday in the lobby of the downtown Fresno main jail. Fresno Bee article 

Summit to bring youth of various backgrounds together with cops – Teens who don’t trust cops. Who want to be cops. Who’ve had good and bad experiences with them. Who’ve never even met one. The aim of next month’s Law Enforcement Youth Summit in Modesto is to bring a cross-section of the above – up to 120 high school juniors and seniors – together with officers for a day of talking, listening, doing and learning.Modesto Bee article

Brock Turner’s mom blocks cameras as her son signs sex registry — Brock Turner’s parents are continuing to support their son. As the former Stanford swimmer — whose six-month sentence for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman sparked national outrage — signed the sex registry in his home state of Ohio on Tuesday morning, his mother stood behind him, raising her arms and blocking photographers and media with her white knit sweater. San Francisco Chronicle article; AP article 

Your county government: Kings County Probation Department — The Kings County Probation Department oversees criminal offenders. The department helps juvenile offenders by providing social services and educational classes and monitors offenders released early from prison. The Sentinel sat down with Deputy Chief Probation Officer Daniel Surface and Kings Juvenile Center Director Leonard Bakker to learn more about their department’s services and programs. Hanford Sentinel article 

Fresno police to begin zero-tolerance litter enforcement patrol — A litter enforcement program will begin Wednesday as part of the City of Fresno’s effort to clean up local highways, the city announced. Six Fresno Police Department motorcycle officers will be assigned to the program, patrolling highways 41, 168 and 180 daily between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. to enforce littering ordinances, the city said. Fresno Bee article

Asian residents urge Sacramento city leaders, police to address south Sacramento robberies — Asian American residents of south Sacramento are seeking Mayor Kevin Johnson’s help in combating what they call an alarming trend of robberies targeting their community. Sacramento Bee article


ITT Tech shuts down all its schools; many students eligible for loan forgiveness – The company that operates ITT Technical Institutes said Tuesday it was permanently closing all its campuses nationwide, blaming the recent move by the U.S. Education Department to ban the for-profit college operator from enrolling new students who use federal financial aid. LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article; AP article; New York Times article

Kern High School District working with DOJ, AG’s office over police database allegations – The Kern High School District is working with the state Department of Justice and the Attorney General’s office related to allegations that high-ranking district administrators misused a police information database, Trustee Mike Williams announced in a prepared statement Tuesday. Bakersfield Californian article 

Bakersfield Californian: We ask grand jury to investigate Kern High School District – We are formally asking – actually begging – the Kern County grand jury to investigate, publicly report their findings, and make recommendations to clean up this mess. Bakersfield Californian editorial 

With new minor, Fresno State aims to create a new generation of Hmong leaders – More than 100 students are enrolled in classes for a new minor at Fresno State this semester. That degree? A minor in Hmong Language studies. The minor is the first of its kind on the West Coast and the fifth Hmong minor in the country. What sets it apart is that it focuses on actually speaking the language, not just culture. Fresno State Professor Dr. Kao-Ly Yang  wrote all six textbooks for the program. KVPR report

Charles Nies: Teaching, research, service: UC mission at home in the Valley – The vice chancellor for student affairs at UC Merced writes, “As part of the 10-campus UC system, UC Merced is focused on the mission of excellence in teaching, research and public service. Located in the heart of the Central Valley, our young university has embraced this mission in a manner evident and on display when you visit the campus.” Nies op-ed in Modesto Bee

UC Merced is a sustainable ‘cool school’ – UC Merced is recognized again by the Sierra Club for its commitment to sustainability by working to reduce energy use and transportation emissions, conserve water and expand environmental knowledge. Merced Sun-Star article 

First-generation grad now helps others connect with UC Merced – Encarnación “Chon” Ruiz helps young people work past perceived barriers to pursue higher education at the University of California at Merced. As director of admissions, Ruiz is changing lives by guiding students – most of them the first in their families to go to college – toward their dreams. Merced Sun-Star article

Joan Smith: Community colleges bridge the gap – The chancellor of the Yosemite Community College District writes, “One of the wonderful things about the California Community Colleges System is that we take every individual who shows up at our doors ready to benefit from an education.” Smith op-ed in Modesto Bee 

California’s first College and Career Readiness metric still being fine-tuned – Citing a lack of current data to measure how well high schools prepare students for careers, state officials have scrapped a key piece of California’s initial College and Career Readiness Indicator. EdSource article 

Aiming for the Ivies: Tips to target top-tier schools – A very few teens from here head each year to Ivy League schools or prestigious private universities like the University of the Pacific in Stockton. But setting sights on a higher prize can pay off in many ways. Here is some wisdom from UOP on how to stand out in the applications avalanche. Modesto Bee article 

Brian Clark: Parent learning curve: What they don’t tell you – One parent of a state university freshman tells what he learned along the many-branched, pothole-studded path of prepping for and applying to colleges. Modesto Bee article 

For business school students, Silicon Valley is new Wall Street – Wall Street once stood as the pinnacle of achievement for business school students across the country, but over the last several years a new destination has emerged: Silicon Valley. San Francisco Chronicle article

City College of San Francisco needs Prop B parcel tax to shore up faculty pay – As City College of San Francisco prepares for what faculty and staff hope will be a successful — and final — meeting with accreditors this fall, the school is also asking voters for a financial leg up to help smooth the way. San Francisco Chronicle article

Teachers unions launch ads criticizing political spending by charter advocates – Leaders of California’s largest teachers union have launched a new ad campaign, but this time they’re not battling for hearts and minds on school policy. They’re competing against charter school advocates to get politicians elected to office — with some schoolyard name calling. KPCC report 

Black-focused housing at Cal State LA draws criticism, but it’s nothing new – The debut of a new housing option at Cal State Los Angeles is attracting a lot of attention, starting with its name: the Halisi Scholars Black Living-Learning Community. The on-campus housing is meant to gather those interested in issues concerning the black community. Twenty-four students are living in the themed dorm space, and Cal State L.A. said there is a wait list to get in. LA Times article 

San Jose State under fire in sexual harassment probe — A San Jose State professor found to have sexually harassed a student last year remained the head of his department for nearly five months after the campus investigation concluded, stepping down just days before the end of the academic year, an investigation by this newspaper has found. San Jose Mercury News article

San Francisco officials suggests taking slaveholders’ names off schools — George Washington, the guy on the quarter, could soon be facing the ax in San Francisco as surely as his fabled cherry tree. The president of the San Francisco school board thinks it’s time to consider renaming schools that bear the names of former slave owners — including Washington and his friends and fellow presidents Thomas Jefferson and James MonroeSan Francisco Chronicle article


As summer rush eases, Yosemite tries out new traffic experiments – The annual mass exodus starts Monday afternoon from Yosemite, Tahoe and other marquee sites for getaways in Northern California. Vacationers will head home, with many considering summer done. Park planners and rangers at Yosemite will use the break to implement a new strategy in Yosemite Valley as an experiment to see whether they can reduce congestion on roads and at parking lots. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Judge puts hold on plan to open California lands to fracking — A federal judge on Tuesday tentatively rejected a plan by the federal Bureau of Land Management to open more than 1,500 square miles of lands in central California to oil drilling and fracking. AP article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Grizzly bears in California: Reintroduction push ignites strong emotions — In a proposal fanning strong emotions about humans’ uneasy relationship with big predators they are trying to save, the Center for Biological Diversity is trying to drum up support for the state to study reintroducing grizzly bears to remote areas such as the Sierra. San Jose Mercury News article 

Can a new ‘vaccine’ stem the front apocalypse? — A deadly fungus that’s been devastating frog populations is still spreading across the globe. In California, the chytrid fungus has moved inexorably across the Sierra Nevada from west to east, leaving thousands of frogs dead. But Bay Area scientists are trying to turn the tide against the fungus with an experimental treatment, one that could matter to frogs worldwide. KQED report

Health/Human Services 

Attorney General orders Saint Agnes to pay $2.1 million for charity care health services — The state has denied a request by Saint Agnes Medical Center to reduce how much charity care it gives to the community and is requiring the hospital to pay more than $2 million to nonprofit organizations that provide direct health-care services. Saint Agnes has until Oct. 31 to pay $2,111,553 to one or more nonprofits. Fresno Bee article 

The states with the biggest Obamacare struggles spent years undermining the law –  As insurers exit Obamacare marketplaces across the country, critics of the Affordable Care Act have redoubled claims that the health law isn’t working. Yet these same critics, many of them Republican politicians in red states, took steps over the last several years to undermine the 2010 law and fuel the current turmoil in their insurance markets.LA Times article 

Study: Hospitals waste millions of dollars a year by throwing away unused surgical supplies – It’s long been a problem for the nation’s hospitals: A staggering number of medical supplies — from surgical gloves to sponges to medications — go unused and are discarded after surgeries. A recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco has put a price tag on that waste: almost $1,000 per procedure examined at the academic medical center. KQED report 

Charles Bacchi: Drug companies pass the buck on price spikes – The president & CEO of the California Association of Health Plans writes, “Each time a drug company jacks up the price for an important or even life-saving treatment, there is public outcry. A flurry of news stories hit the papers, lawmakers and candidates denounce the practice and patients and parents object. Each time, the culprit responds by turning a blind eye to the public’s objections and pretending there is no problem.” Bacchi op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Visalia boy contracts flesh-eating bacteria — A freshman football player at El Diamante High became infected with a flesh-eating bacteria that attacked his hand and required surgery. Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing 

Bakersfield council to hear about 9/11 memorial, food truck ordinance — With the 15th anniversary of 9/11 just days away, the Bakersfield City Council will learn on Wednesday about the city’s new victims’ memorial in the southwest. In other business, the council will consider giving first reading to a new ordinance regulating food trucks. Bakersfield Californian article


Sacramento airport adding TSA PreCheck office — The federal Transportation Security Administration will open a TSA PreCheck office in Sacramento International Airport on Monday as part of a national effort to reduce wait times at airport checkpoints. Sacramento Bee article 

Other areas 

First responders use lessons learned from San Bernardino terrorist attack to better help other victims — First responders from various cities attended a conference Tuesday aimed at better serving victims of mass-casualty incidents such as the San Bernardino terror attack. LA Times article 

Interim city manager in Tulare — Paul Melikian is now Tulare’s interim city manager. Melikian, who in April was hired as assistant city manager, became the city’s top administrator whenDon Dorman officially stepped down on Friday. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Black employee, NAACP allege discrimination at Sacramento City Hall – Black employees at City Hall face “an environment of racial discrimination and harassment,” according to a complaint filed by a black employee and backed by the California branch of the NAACP. Sacramento Bee article 

LA to pay $750,000 to fired city official who had been labeled a ‘workplace bully’ – The Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to pay $750,000 to a high-level economic development official who claimed he faced retaliation for reporting improper financial dealings and racial bias at his workplace. LA Times article 

Michael Fitzgerald: My day on an honest errand — A woman driving to hot yoga class on Saturday spied a wallet in the street. “It belonged to a young man by the name of Daniel Sangha Song,” the woman emailed. She went on: “He had in his wallet a California driver’s license, a California ID card, a fishing license … and a Medical Cannabis ID card. Also, the wallet contained $2,240 dollars.” Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian We ask the Kern County grand jurors to investigate Kern High School District.

Sacramento Bee – In the guise of combating government debt, Proposition 53 could increase construction costs and add unnecessary layers of complexity and uncertainty to an already unwieldy state government. And voters have a solution if they conclude that legislators abuse revenue bonds: They can vote them out of office; There’s a message for working women in Gretchen Carlson’s reported $20 million settlement and Roger Ailes’ $40 million departure: Sexual harassment is less and less affordable.

Stockton Record – Touchdown, San Joaquin! Ninth annual Super Bowl raffle with benefit local agencies.