Political notebook: Doug Vagim, Steve Wayte challenge Fresno water hike

The Fresno BeeSeptember 13, 2013 

Anti-tax advocates Doug Vagim and Steve Wayte on Friday delivered paperwork and a $200 check to the Fresno County clerk, officially starting a process to put the city's recent water-rate increase to a vote.

Vagim, a former Fresno County supervisor, and Wayte, a Tea Party activist, say they need to collect around 4,500 signatures of registered voters — which is 5% of those who voted for governor in 2010 — though they hope to collect at least 5,000 signatures if not several thousand more.

City officials, however, say Vagim, Wayte and others supporting the initiative — which would be placed on next June's primary ballot — are wasting their time.

Doug Sloan, who is Fresno's city attorney, reiterated what he said in a recent Bee article: essential public functions undertaken by cities cannot be challenged through the initiative or referendum process.

It looks like a court fight in the making, because Vagim disagrees, and thinks he has the law on his side. Furthermore, Vagim says he has a legal team waiting to defend the initiative.

"We'll win," Vagim said Friday outside of Fresno's City Hall before filing the paperwork, "and then we'll charge (the city) the legal bill."

But Sloan and other officials who watched Vagim and Wayte hold Friday's news news conference say the courts already have weighed in on the matter — and found for cities.

— John Ellis

Brown signs Patterson nurse-licensing bill

It's not always easy being a Republican in a state government completely controlled by Democrats — from the state Legislature right up to Gov. Jerry Brown.

But this week, Brown signed a bill by Assembly Member Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican, that fast-tracks licenses for vocational nurses by removing government red-tape.

Assembly Bill 1028 ensures that vocational nurses can begin working once they have finished school and have entered the Board of Vocational Nursing's licensing process.

The bill speeds up the process by which they can apply for and receive an interim permit while they complete the board exams. Currently, many of these nurses have been forced to wait up to six months to receive their licenses.

Patterson introduced the legislation after being contacted by Clovis resident Danielle Mendoza, who had become frustrated with the lengthy licensing process.

— John Ellis

FPPC fine $3,500 in Tulare health case

Rosalinda Avitia, an elected member of the Tulare Local Health Care District board of directors, and her campaign treasurer Bob Montion are being ordered to pay a $3,500 fine by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

The campaign did not report $2,600 in contributions of $100 or more as required before the election last year, according to commission staff.

The health care district oversees Tulare Regional Medical Center.

Montion called the fine amount "fair" and said he apologized to Avitia for botching the reporting.

— Lewis Griswold

Senate repels Vidak try to put rail on ballot

In a move that stunned, well, practically nobody, the Democrat-controlled state Senate voted down a set of amendments proposed by Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, intended to freeze money and halt work on California's high-speed rail project and put the controversial effort in front of the state's voters once again.

Vidak's amendments to a bill by Assembly Member Jim Frazier, D-Oakley, would have put high-speed rail on the November 2014 ballot.

But the amendments were shot down Wednesday on a straight party-line vote, with 11 Republicans voting to take up the amendments and 24 Democrats voting to reject the amendments.

— Tim Sheehan

 

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