September 8, 2015


Political Stories

Top stories

Final rush of legislating follows Labor Day events – Four days remain before Friday’s midnight legislative deadline. Hundreds of bills await floor votes; lobbying is intense on multiple measures; and three of the Legislature’s four caucuses have picked new leaders or leaders-elect in recent days, possibly injecting a new dynamic into end-of-session negotiations. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Compromises on tax and climate change bills remain elusive – Many Capitol observers say California’s lawmakers seem to function best under pressure. But with less than a week to go before Friday’s deadline for the Legislature to complete its work, key compromises that would help keep the year’s highest-profile legislation afloat remain elusive. Contra Costa Times article


Other areas

Why climate change advocates are watching those black and Latino lawmakers – The “wanted” poster with pictures of five state lawmakers appeared in the pages of a Spanish-language newspaper in Southern California last week. The five are among the Latino or African American Democrats representing low-income districts who have not taken a side in the fierce tug of war over climate change measures that has been dominating the Capitol. LA Times article 

Sacramento Bee: The strong gravitational pull of SB 350 – The Legislature should find a way to fund highways, extend the health care tax and approve SB 350. Reducing petroleum use by 50 percent, as envisioned by SB 350, is worth pursuing. But SB 350’s supporters should not want the deal so badly that they’re unwilling to walk away from the bargaining table. Sacramento Bee editorial

Pete Wilson and Stephen B. Williams: Climate change must work for all Californians – Former California Gov. Wilson and Williams, 2015 co-chairs of the Southern California Leadership Council, write, “We applaud the governor’s approach, and emphatically urge lawmakers to avoid setting climate change goals and costs that fall disproportionately on the backs of the poor, working middle-class and communities of color.” Wilson/Williams op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Dan Walters: Licensure of work backfires — Three years ago, then-Assemblywoman Fiona Ma carried a bill to license interior designers, backed by an industry faction. Why? Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Drought, wildfires among western issues facing Congress – From drought to wildfires, Congress faces numerous issues of special importance to Westerners when it returns Tuesday. Visalia Times-Delta article

Apple and other tech companies tangle with U.S. over data access – Government conflicts with Apple and Microsoft reflect heightened resistance by businesses intent on demonstrating efforts to protect customer information. New York Times article

Kim Beazley: California should permit nonendangered kangaroo product imports – Australia’s ambassador to the United States writes, “We recognize that animal protection and management is an important and often emotional issue. The decision on AB 1188 should be based on scientific evidence. The evidence is clear that Australia manages its nonendangered kangaroo population rigorously and humanely.” Beazley op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Joe Altschule: GOP has no idea how to control the monster it created — The GOP never counted on losing control of the base, but now it has. GOP leaders never thought the base would ever act on its own and turn on them, but it has. The base has become an out-of-control Donald Trumpenstein-led monster and the GOP is in total and dizzying disarray. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Tom Fife: Can’t wait for Joe to have to say President Trump — For millions of Americans, Donald Trump represents the fire and spirit they have been praying for in a leader. Going forward Trump will likely get stronger. This time America wants real “hope and change” – not lip service – and next year they’ll vote Trump. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories 

Small cities find California water-conservation mandates hard to meet – Small San Joaquin Valley cities that are home to large food processors are facing a drought-based dilemma – trying to balance state water mandates to cut consumption while keeping jobs that make their cities financially healthy. Fresno Bee article

Don’t panic, officials say as California braces for lower test results – Even before new state test scores are released this week, one thing is already clear: Results will be lower than in years past. Probably much lower. In other words, a much smaller percentage of students will be regarded as academically proficient for their grade level. LA Times article


Jobs and the Economy 

Stanislaus County officials want to shorten lines by offering more services online – Why continue with the dreaded “in-line” experience of seeking county services when online access is easier for customers? Stanislaus County’s proposed final budget, released Friday, includes $1 million for technological advancements to provide more service options for residents over the Internet. Modesto Bee article 

California board to hold first meeting on clean-energy fund — A citizens board overseeing energy efficiency projects will meet for the first time Tuesday after The Associated Press reported that the panel had yet to meet three years after California voters approved raising taxes on corporations to create clean-energy jobs. AP article 

CalSTRS rate hike brings plan for benefit increase — A long-sought CalSTRS rate increase, more than doubling the bite from school districts, is the reason given last week for a proposal to increase the lump-sum death benefit, unchanged in the last 13 years. Calpensions article 

Erika D. Smith: Trying to keep housing affordable — Affordable housing. Mixed-income neighborhoods. Low-income communities. Rent control. Call it whatever you want, but it’s the quandary of the ages for cities in California. Even moderately priced Sacramento is taking a new stab at a solution. Smith column in Sacramento Bee

In a booming Palm Springs, residents see both promise and threat — City incentives in recent years have spurred hundreds of millions of dollars of investments that are transforming the landscape of this desert oasis, once considered Hollywood’s playground. To some, the city’s efforts to help developers revitalize its aging downtown have spurred a long-overdue move into the future. Others see a threat to the city’s unique charm and say developers have grown too powerful. LA Times article 

Sam Farmer: NFL is feeling the pressure to come up with an LA solution — Unlike in years past when L.A. could easily be pushed to the back burner, there are actual teams involved now — St. Louis, San Diego and Oakland — with viable competing stadium plans in Inglewood and Carson, and real money on the line as all three franchises brace for what could be lame-duck seasons. Farmer column in LA Times



10 signs El Nino may be coming – Nature is sending signals that the big rains could be coming. El Niño is characterized by warming surface ocean temperatures, and NOAA’s network of buoys along the equator are already indicating that trend. According to their latest analysis, there is a greater than 90% chance of an El Niño winter in the Northern Hemisphere and an 85% chance it will continue into the spring of 2016. San Francisco Chronicle article

Los Banos leaders want more water reduction – Los Banos fell just short of its state-mandated water conservation level, but the city is taking measures to make sure it can avoid fines that could be imposed by Sacramento. Los Banos Enterprise article 

Trees are suffering, but at home you can help – California’s punishing drought is taking a toll on our trees, both due to the natural lack of water and people just not knowing how to take care of them. While Mother Nature will need to step in to fix the first problem, there are things people can and should do now to address the second, experts say. Bakersfield Californian article

Lack of support in D.C. hampers water recycling efforts — Water recycling may be one of the most promising sources of new water for California, but you’d never know it in Washington. San Francisco Chronicle article

Sweet Pea helps a week bit with the drought — Mike Henson is trying to save water one flush at a time. The owner of Bakersfield’s Maranatha Landscaping has now gotten his Sweet Pea decorative, waterless urinal patented and is looking for a mass manufacturer. Bakersfield Californian article


Criminal Justice/Prisons

Car chase in central Fresno ends in officer-involved shooting death — A routine traffic stop in central Fresno led to a car chase about 5 p.m. Monday, ending in the third officer-involved shooting this week in Fresno. Fresno Bee article

Attorneys file series of legal challenges in murder case against Modesto attorney, eight others — In the past few weeks, attorneys have filed a series of legal motions in the case against a Modesto criminal defense attorney and eight others accused in the murder of Korey Kauffman. The court has to make decisions on several issues, and the case still hasn’t even made it past arraignment. Modesto Bee article 

Yolo facility dog helps crime victims reclaim their voice — In California, as long as a motion is made and the judge approves it, facility dogs such as Aloha may accompany individuals to court, where she is allowed to lie in silence behind the witness box out of sight of a jury. Facility dogs have been a part of California courtrooms at least since 2007, and the appellate courts confirmed the legality of such dogs in 2012. Sacramento Bee article



Cal State trustees will discuss pay policy, budget — California State University officials are proposing to lift restrictions on pay raises for campus presidents that were imposed after a series of controversial salary hikes drew complaints from students and lawmakers. The proposal will be discussed during a meeting of the Board of Trustees in Long Beach, where the governing board will also get a first look at the preliminary 2016-17 support budget. LA Times article

What parents need to know about California’s Common Core-aligned tests — On Sept. 9, the California Department of Education plans to release the first year’s results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests in English language arts/literacy and math, which 3.2 million students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 11 took last spring. Through the state website, parents and the public will be able to view statewide scores, broken down by district and school, for each grade and student subgroup. EdSource article

California colleges test online reporting tool created by sexual assault survivor — Called Callisto, the website allows students to fill out a time-stamped online form documenting what happened to them, learn about resources such as where to go for a rape kit or STD testing and weigh their options as they figure out if they want to move forward with reporting. They can also opt in to automatically reporting if someone else flags the same assailant. Students receive a private key that encrypts the information stored on the website, but if they choose to report the sexual assault they’re required to reveal their identity. San Jose Mercury News article 

Susan Gubernat: For students, ‘skin in the game’ sounds more like pound of flesh – The member of the CSU Academic Senate writes, “Tuition dollars have overtaken state funding in supporting public higher education in California, as is true throughout the country. Students and their families are paying more than ever for the college degrees that previous generations obtained for next to nothing. The ‘public good’ – often mentioned as the reason that public higher education even exists – sounds like empty rhetoric these days.” Gubernat op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Law school continues fight over minimum bar exam passage rate — When the State Bar of California began requiring some law schools to maintain a minimum bar passage rate to keep their good standing, one school pushed back. The Southern California Institute of Law, which has campuses in Santa Barbara and Ventura, took the unusual step of suing the state bar to overturn the regulation. LA Times article



Evacuations ordered near Rough fire – The Rough fire grew overnight by nearly 10,000 acres, injuring a firefighter and causing the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office to order mandatory evacuations in areas near Dunlap and Crabtree. Fresno Bee article; LA Times article

Five years after deadly San Bruno explosion: Are we safer? — The disaster and all the subsequent investigations and disclosures prompt the question: Are Californians safer from a pipeline disaster now than the day Line 132 blew up in San Bruno? KQED report; Contra Costa Times article 

Port officials weigh berth-deepening project — Stockton port officials will consider Tuesday a $3.2 million dredging project that would complete deepening of Rough and Ready Island’s waterfront, acquired in 2000 from the U.S. Navy, which had allowed much of it to accumulate silt over decades. Stockton Record article


Health/Human Services

Food deserts may play little role in obesity, Rand study says – Conventional wisdom suggests that if you live in an area devoid of fresh, healthy food, you won’t eat well. These so-called food deserts, the logic goes, are a root cause of the obesity epidemic. But new research indicates that the picture is much more complicated, with food choices being affected by several factors, including the cost of food, cultural preferences and marketing. Eliminating food deserts, researchers say, may only marginally improve people’s health. LA Times article

Rise is crowdfunding lets patients seek help for medical treatment – The Hannons are one of 1,600 families in the Sacramento area using GoFundMe this year to crowdfund their loved ones’ medical care, according to the website. The number is up from just 11 Sacramento campaigns on the site four years ago. Internationally, medical crowdfunding campaigns on GoFundMe have jumped from just over 8,000 in 2011 to more than 740,000 this year. Sacramento Bee article

Stanford scientists raise hope, concern with synthetic narcotics — Stanford researchers working in the new field called synthetic biology have engineered the genes of yeast and a mix of plant and animal genes to create powerful narcotic drugs that until now could be derived only from opium poppies. San Francisco Chronicle article


Land Use/Housing 

Wood Colony meeting on proposed urban growth limit — Supporters of Measure I, which calls for putting an urban growth boundary around most of Modesto to protect prime farmland, are inviting the public to learn more about the measure and how they can participate in the campaign. Meaure I will be on the November ballot. Modesto Bee article



A Los Angeles plan to reshape the streetscape sets off fears of gridlock — The City Council has approved a far-reaching transportation plan that would reshape the streetscape over the next 20 years, adding hundreds of miles of bicycle lanes, bus-only lanes and pedestrian safety features as part of an effort to nudge drivers out from behind the wheel. Not surprisingly, in the unofficial traffic congestion capital of the country, the plan has set off fears of apocalyptic gridlock. New York Times article


Other areas

Lois Henry: Grabbing success by the tail — When I met her two years ago, I got a good feeling about Maria Lopez. She didn’t disappoint. A couple years ago, Maria and her husband, Kelcey Brown, were homeless. It was a foreclosure issue with their rental house in Lancaster, not drugs or problems with the law. Bakersfield Californian article 

Tulare County Animal Services changes more than its name — Among those changes are plans to launch later this month a “foster-to-own” program for pet adoption, improved training for county animal control officers and a new name that already is in effect — the Tulare County Animal Services Division. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento City Council ethics reform is a must — As Sacramento’s elected officials hem and haw, a local watchdog group has set the bar on transparency and ethics reform. Sacramento Bee editorial


Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Last week was good for informing the public. Two top California officials flipped virtual switches and flooded some dimly lit nooks of government with light.

Sacramento Bee – The Legislature should find a way to fund highways, extend the health care tax and approve SB 350. Reducing petroleum use by 50 percent, as envisioned by SB 350, is worth pursuing. But SB 350’s supporters should not want the deal so badly that they’re unwilling to walk away from the bargaining table; As Sacramento’s elected officials hem and haw, a local watchdog group has set the bar on transparency and ethics reform. 

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Justice center makes so much sense, a key post for Stockton’s Bob Gutierrez with the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, and other issues.