POLITICAL INSIDER: Votes, Water, & Free Speech


The June Primary is now less than six weeks away here in California and Democratic Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom remains the frontrunner in the race for Governor, but two other candidates are now catching up.

That's the result of a new and exclusive Action News Poll conducted by SurveyUSA.

Former LA Mayor and Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa and Republican businessman John Cox look to be in a three-way fight with Newsom for the Primary's top two spots and a shot at the General Election in November.

Newsom's support has fallen slightly since the last month's poll, while support for Villaraigosa and Cox has increased.
17% remain undecided.

Click here for the results of the poll.

Let's go a little deeper into those poll results. SurveyUSA says their research shows Newsom has "formed a broad, affluent, educated, liberal coalition, anchored in the Bay Area, with equal support in urban, suburban, and rural parts of the state." However, Villaraigosa's support is "disproportionately Latino, moderate, lower-income, female, and resides in Greater Los Angeles".

According to SurveyUSA, the GOP's Cox is "backed by whites, conservatives, and suburban men throughout the state." Frankly, those findings are not surprising as each candidate plays to their base.

Earlier this month, a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed Newsom on top, but Cox second, followed by Villaraigosa. That's not how the candidates line up in the Action News Poll when you break it down by region, specifically Central California.

Newsom still leads with 21%, but Republican Travis Allen is second with 17% and Cox is third with 13%. Villaraigosa has 9%.

By the way, this is the first Action News Poll with Valley native and Democrat Amanda Renteria listed as a candidate for Governor. The poll shows her at 3% statewide and 4% in Central California.

But wait, there's more.

A new poll from the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies shows Newsom leading with Cox and Allen shooting well ahead of Villaraigosa.
It should be an interesting six weeks.


Could this be the "last stand" for the Temperance Flat Dam?

Backers of the water storage project proposed for the San Joaquin River above Millerton Lake are trying to rally other supporters for an important hearing on Wednesday, May 2nd in Sacramento.

The State Water Commission will listen to presentations and comments on all 11 applications for State Water Bond funding including Temperance Flat.

Supporters under the banner of the San Joaquin Valley Water Infrastructure Authority are calling the commission hearing "crucial" as they plead their case for more than one billion dollars in bond funding.

The Water Commission staff has scored the public benefit for the dam project very low and funding so far has fallen short.

The Authority members are calling on representatives of Valley agriculture, business, industry, and communities to attend the hearing next week.

Free Speech

My ABC30 Facebook page has been burning up with debate over the decision by Fresno State not to discipline the English professor who called the late Barbara Bush an "amazing racist" during her foul-mouthed, disturbing, and torrid Tweet storm last week.

In his letter to the campus community, University President Dr. Joseph Castro concluded the Professor did not violate any CSU or university policies and that her "disgraceful" comments are protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

What Dr. Castro didn't discuss in the letter is the harm that has and still may befall the University and its students because of the Professor's words.
Many supporters, financial or otherwise, claim they're done with Fresno State.

Dr. Castro also did not address in his letter how the Professor used an Arizona Suicide Hotline number as her own which flooded the help line with phone calls and whether this action factored into the University's decision.

An Action News crew attempted to talk to Dr. Castro about the discipline decision and these issues following a recent event on campus, but he walked away from our camera.
Dr. Castro is a man of integrity and the decision regarding the Professor's future at Fresno State had to be extremely difficult, but he owes the community an answer regarding these remaining issues.

April 24, 2018
Dear Campus Community,

I write to provide an update regarding the university's review of comments made last week by Professor Randa Jarrar, following the passing of former First Lady Barbara Bush. This issue has raised many important questions about the scope of free speech and the extent to which a member of our university community can be held accountable for expressing his or her personal views.

Professor Jarrar's conduct was insensitive, inappropriate and an embarrassment to the university. I know her comments have angered many in our community and impacted our students. Let me be clear, on campus and whenever we are representing the university, I expect all of us to engage in respectful dialogue.

Immediately following Professor Jarrar's tweets last Tuesday, we carefully reviewed the facts and consulted with CSU counsel to determine whether we could take disciplinary action. After completing this process, we have concluded that Professor Jarrar did not violate any CSU or university policies and that she was acting in a private capacity and speaking about a public matter on her personal Twitter account. Her comments, although disgraceful, are protected free speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Additionally, although Professor Jarrar used tenure to defend her behavior, this private action is an issue of free speech and not related to her job or tenure. Therefore, the university does not have justification to support taking any disciplinary action. Professor Jarrar will remain on leave through the Spring semester, which she had previously requested before this incident. This matter has highlighted some important issues that deserve further consultation with our academic leadership.

Our duty as Americans and as educators is to promote a free exchange of diverse views, even if we disagree with them. At Fresno State, we encourage opinions and ideas to be expressed in a manner that informs, enlightens and educates without being disparaging of others. It makes me proud when I see our students, faculty and staff debate and learn from each other. This is how we boldly educate and empower our students to succeed.

I want to thank all of you for sharing your views and opinions. By doing so, you demonstrate care for our university and commitment to our students' success.


Joseph I. Castro, Ph.D., M.P.P.
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