May 12, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories

‘Cuts are coming,’ Gov. Jerry Brown says as he releases revised budget plan – California Gov. Jerry Brown released a revised, $180 billion budget proposal Thursday that closely mirrors his January plan, maintaining a cautious approach amid uncertainty about the direction of the economy and possible federal actions that could hurt the state’s bottom line. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report;

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown has been lucky to have a strong economy — Jerry Brown is a very wily politician who during his second governorship has also been a very lucky one, as he indirectly acknowledged Thursday. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

State budget

How Jerry Brown’s budget affects schools, colleges, health care – Gov. Jerry Brown released his revised budget proposal Thursday. What do we know? Sacramento Bee article

California governor seeks smaller education, child care cuts –  California Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday dialed back his proposed cuts for schools and child care, citing an improved fiscal outlook since January that could cover $1.5 billion more in general fund spending. Most of that money would go to K-12 education. He’s also rolling back a plan to cut a half-billion dollars for child care for low-income families. AP article

Brown’s budget gives attorney general’s office more funding to fight Trump policies — Gov. Jerry Brown proposed Thursday to increase the budget of Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to pay for continuing the barrage of lawsuits that have been filed challenging executive orders by President Trump on immigration, the environment and healthcare. LA Times article

An in-home care program for California’s elderly and disabled is constantly at the heart of budget battles.  Here’s why  — California’s program to provide in-home care for its low-income elderly and disabled residents finds itself once again at the heart of a state budget standoff. LA Times article

Stanislaus County to shoulder fewer costs for in-home care in Gov. Brown’s revised budget plan – A state proposal to shift $623 million in costs for In-Home Supportive Services to counties won’t pack such a wallop for Stanislaus County’s budget. County officials had dreaded the consequences of more than a $6 million IHSS budget hit for the fiscal year that begins July 1. But with Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget plan released Thursday, officials believe the county’s share of IHSS costs will be significantly less. Modesto Bee article

Brown: Extra $6 million to cut state pension debt – The payment to CalPERS for state worker pensions next year would double under a revised state budget proposed by Gov. Brown yesterday, going from nearly $6 billion to a total of about $12 billion. Calpensions article

Bill Whalen: Here’s a different approach to California’s budget that Republicans might consider — Here’s a different approach to the budget that Republicans might consider: marshal their resources to try electing one of their own as state controller. Why that particular office? It’s a conversation I’ve had with alarming frequency over the years – every time an individual of considerable wealth and job uncertainty approaches me with their desire to launch a political career in the Golden State. Whalen column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

Despite doubts and disagreements, Brown still wants a deal on cap and trade in next month – Gov. Jerry Brown said Thursday there’s “a very good chance” of reaching a deal in the next month to extend California’s cap-and-trade program for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. LA Times article

Governor is pessimistic on major deal to address California’s housing affordability crisis – Gov. Jerry Brown proposed no new money or policy changes to address the state’s housing affordability crisis in the May revision to the state budget, saying that the state shouldn’t spend money on low-income housing unless it also makes politically hard decisions to lower building costs.  LA Times article

Gov. Jerry Brown says California’s tax board is ‘a mess’ and reform is needed – Gov. Jerry Brown said Thursday the state’s scandal-plagued tax board will have to undergo reform, but it is unlikely the panel would be merged with other state financial agencies.  LA Times article

Valley politics

Jeff Jardine: Denham playing victim card? Not the first time, as duly noted — When politicians try to play the victim, look very closely at the not-so-fine print. Last fall, the wives of at least three and who knows how many more Republicans running for state or national offices wrote letters decrying political attacks against their husbands. Among those letters, one came from Sonia Denham, wife of Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

‘I’m Andrew Janz and I’m here to repeal and replace Devin Nunes’ — Protesters gathered in front of Congressman Devin Nunes’ office in Clovis on Thursday, upset about his vote to support the GOP health care plan and critical of his handling of the investigation into Russian election interference. And, to hear from the first challenger to Nunes in the 2018 mid-term election, a 33-year-old Fresno County deputy district attorney making his first run for office. KQED report

Bakersfield Ward 5 profile: Businessman Bruce Freeman proposes economic growth – He’s the Ward 5 candidate no doubt everyone knows. His large, blue campaign signs are scattered all over southwest Bakersfield: “Bruce Freeman — Bakersfield City Council — Proven Business Leader.” And then there’s the fact he, well, led most of that area’s development while president of one of the most powerful, influential companies in Bakersfield, Castle and Cooke. Bakersfield Californian article

Bakersfield Californian:  Bruce Freeman for Ward 5 councilman – Freeman is already acquainted with most of the players he’d deal with as Ward 5 councilman, and he is already known and respected by many of them. He has already invested most of his working life in Bakersfield’s growth and development, and consequently its overall quality of life. Bakersfield is fortunate that he is willing to stay and invest more. The Californian endorses Bruce Freeman for Ward 5 city councilman. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Conway faces uphill battle for Senate – Connie Conway has an early $200,000 fundraising advantage in the race for the California Senate District 16 seat over Bakersfield-based opponent Shannon Grove. But the former Tulare County supervisor may still be the underdog in this race pinning two high-profile Republican candidates and former Assembly representatives hailing from two GOP Valley strongholds. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Path to governor’s office runs through Modesto banquet hall for former LA mayor — Antonio Villaraigosa, former mayor of Los Angeles and now candidate for governor, told a Modesto audience Thursday that he would work across political and ethnic lines. Modesto Bee article

Villaraigosa tours UC Merced, talks med school, diversifying Valley economy – Gubernatorial hopeful Antonio Villaraigosa stopped in at UC Merced on Thursday to get a closer look at the plans to double the campus’ footprint. The former mayor of Los Angeles met with Chancellor Dorothy Leland, Merced Mayor Mike Murphy and others inside school’s library overlooking the construction going on for the 2020 Project. Merced Sun-Star article

Sunshine, optimism and a few crossed fingers as Republican Party leaders gather in California for 2018 election — Across the country in Washington, fresh trouble was breaking out by the hour, enveloping a Republican president and stalling a raft of campaign promises in his young presidency. But here, at a gathering of Republican Party leaders, the mood was upbeat. LA Times article


LA councilman’s proposal targets companies seeking work on Trump’s proposed border wall — Companies that do business with the city of Los Angeles would have to disclose if they also have contracts to work on President Trump’s proposed border wall under a motion unveiled Thursday. LA Times article

Other areas

California Chamber of Commerce leans into fight to preserve cap-and-trade program – When it comes to climate change, the California Chamber of Commerce is best known for suing over the state’s cap-and-trade program, a cornerstone of the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. But the lawsuit has faltered, and the powerful business group now wants to work with lawmakers to extend the program, which requires companies to buy permits to release emissions into the atmosphere. LA Times article

Republican Rep. Tom McClintock calls for independent prosecutor to take over FBI’s Russia investigation – Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) has called for an independent prosecutor to take over the FBI investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and the Trump campaign’s possible ties to it.  LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Whiplash in Washington as new accounts keep surfacing – President Trump offered a new version of his decision to fire James B. Comey, saying on Thursday that he would have dismissed the F.B.I. director regardless of whether the attorney general and his deputy recommended it. It was just the latest in a series of statements, some of them contradictory, to whiplash Washington over 48 hours that began with Mr. Comey’s firing on Tuesday evening.  New York Times article; LA Times article

California’s attorney general and 19 counterparts call for independent special counsel in Russia probe – California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Thursday joined 19 other state attorneys general in calling for the immediate appointment of an independent special counsel to investigate possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. LA Times article

Critics say Trump broke the law in firing Comey. Proving it isn’t so easy – Some critics of President Trump have accused him of obstruction of justice in his firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, amid the bureau’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia. Here is a look at the complex legal concept. New York Times article

Joel Fox: A president from California? The speculation begins – With all the commotion raised by President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey and the House passing the American Health Care Act, many Democrats and a number media members are already considering possibilities of a 2020 challenger to Trump. For a change, a Californian may be part of the conversation. Fox in Fox & Hounds

News Stories

Top Stories

California’s economy growing faster than national average – California’s economy grew faster in 2016 than all but a few other states, outpacing the average national growth for the sixth consecutive year, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Sacramento Bee article

Amid housing crisis, why 2 of 5 young Californians live at home — Nearly a decade removed from the depths of the Great Recession, a staggering 38 percent of California’s 18 to 34-year-olds still live with their parents, according to U.S. Census data. That’s roughly 3.6 million people stuck at home. Think of it this way: If “unlaunched” California millennials formed their own state, they would be entitled to more electoral votes than Connecticut, Iowa or Utah. If they formed their own city, it would be the third largest in the country. CALmatters article

Jobs and the Economy

PG&E’s rate hike approved by regulators – California regulators on Thursday authorized Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to increase the amount of revenue it collects from its customers by $1.51 billion spread over the next three years. While substantial, it’s a steep drop from the $2.26 billion that PG&E originally requested. San Francisco Chronicle article

Rio Bravo residents want to save the country club – by owning it – t’s not just a rumor. The greens could go brown at Rio Bravo Country Club. The ponds could dry up, the clubhouse could be closed. And the dream could die. But that’s not going to happen, not if Leo Hinds, Kelly Lucas, Randy Steinert and hundreds of northeast Bakersfield residents have anything to say about it. Bakersfield Californian article

Can Fresno create the ultimate Oreo? The Grizzlies’ marketing guru thinks so — Sam Hansen spent the day searching for Oreos. He had intel that the new Firework Oreo, the one with Pop Rocks in the cream filling, was available at a local WinCo. It turned out to be a false alarm. This is the kind of news that gets around in Hansen’s world; Oreos are kind of his thing. Fresno Bee article

Prominent Californians join CA Fwd Leadership Council – The new Council members are former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, labor leader Dave Regan, entrepreneur and social investor Joseph Sanberg and tech and civic entrepreneur Jim Heerwagen. Former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, who joined the organization in 2008, was re-elected to the Council. California Forward article

California state department tries to trick employees with fake email over bonuses — A California state department emailed a fake phishing scam to its employees Wednesday that manipulated the logo of Golden 1 Credit Union and played on anticipation for $2,500 contract bonuses that many state workers are receiving this week. Sacramento Bee article

Tony Sauro: After just one year, X Fest exits San Joaquin County — The experiment’s over. The Exclamation Festival is going home. After one year at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, X Fest — an August rock-rap event that spans 20 stages and 150 acts — returns to downtown Modesto in 2018. Sauro in Stockton Record

Legal battles over Merced Health Clinic ramp up. Clinic files for bankruptcy – Representatives of Horisons Unlimited Health Care, a nonprofit health clinic whose board members have been involved in a series of legal battle since March, are set to appear in court Friday in Fresno after filing for Chapter 11 protection earlier this week. Merced Sun-Star article


Will Trump reimburse California for Oroville Dam? It may come down to pre-existing conditions — The amount of money Donald Trump’s administration reimburses California for repairs to Oroville Dam could depend on whether the state properly maintained the dam’s spillway prior to it crumbling this winter, a state water official told lawmakers Thursday. Sacramento Bee article

State officials get slammed for the Oroville Dam spillway failure at Sacramento hearing — The California Department of Water Resources came under blistering criticism at a hearing Thursday in the Legislature for its management of the Oroville Dam, three months after nearby residents were evacuated out of concerns about possible flooding. LA Times article

Modesto Irrigation District quietly moves meeting time for tricky water-sale vote — Did the Modesto Irrigation District pull a fast one by having board members treat the potentially controversial issue of selling water to outsiders without the usual scrutiny? For as long as anyone can remember, the MID board has met at 9 a.m. almost every other Tuesday. This week, however, the open meeting was moved to 8 a.m., and the board’s discussion and vote were done and over with before several usual observers arrived at 9 a.m. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Police to be ‘more aggressive’ against bikers after three shot and 100 rounds fired at gathering – Fresno police are promising a crackdown on the semi-annual motorcycle gatherings in the city that frequently end in gang-related violence and gunfire, Chief Jerry Dyer said Wednesday. Fresno Bee article

Accused Fresno gunman due in court following mental checkup — A black man charged with killing three white men in a racially motivated shooting rampage on the streets of Fresno could learn whether he’s mentally stable enough to face criminal charges. AP article

Jury hears Fresno’s no. 2 cop talking about pot buys on wiretap – Jurors in the federal drug trafficking trial of former Fresno deputy Police Chief Keith Foster listened Thursday morning to more than a dozen wiretaps that prosecutors say link him to peddling marijuana and heroin. In one of them, Foster said he has friends in the Fresno Police Department narcotics unit who can help him. Fresno Bee article

Attorney General rolls back Obama’s sentencing policy – A new directive from Jeff Sessions reverses Obama-era policies on charging and sentencing nonviolent drug offenders and orders federal prosecutors to seek harsher penalties.  New York Times article; LA Times article

What’s next for the case in this week’s massive gang take down in Merced? – Local and federal prosecutors will have to evaluate cases against dozens of suspects arrested in connection with raids on Wednesday in Merced County targeting “violent and high-ranking gang members associated (with) the Sureno criminal street gangs in Merced County,” according to a federal criminal complaint. Merced Sun-Star article


Jerry Brown withholds $50 million from UC in wake of audit — Gov. Jerry Brown, responding to a scathing audit of the University of California headquarters, withheld $50 million from the university in his revised budget plan Thursday, saying the money would be released only when UC makes progress in fixing the financial problems identified in the audit and meets other conditions set by his office. San Francisco Chronicle article; EdSource article

In argument over free speech, Fresno State professor rubs out anti-abortion chalk message — Two Fresno State students are suing a professor for erasing anti-abortion messages they wrote in sidewalk chalk on campus earlier this month, claiming their free speech rights were violated. Fresno Bee article

Thirsty for beer at Fresno State football games?  Here’s some potentially quenching news – Miss drinking beer at Bulldogs football games? Your thirst could soon be quenched. California State University Chancellor Timothy White is strongly considering repealing a 2006 executive order handed down by his predecessor that banned alcohol sales at all university owned and operated facilities, a well-placed Fresno State athletic department source told The Bee. Fresno Bee article

Prexit? Some Porterville residents call for college to secede from Kern Community College District – Some Porterville community members are calling on Porterville College to break away from the Kern Community College District, a move that those involved say would be arduous, complicated and take years, if it happens at all. Bakersfield Californian article

UC regents take first steps to investigate alleged interference in state audit surveys — In a unanimous vote at a hastily arranged special meeting, the Board of Regents authorized the hiring of an independent investigator to assist in uncovering the facts surrounding the allegationsLA Times article

Visalia teachers demand discipline – Frustrated Visalia teachers filled the board room Tuesday night. Together, they rallied in support of stricter student discipline policies. Visalia Times-Delta article

Yosemite Community College District taps Silicon Valley campus president for chancellor – The Yosemite Community College District Board chose a new chancellor with a record of serving diverse communities and updating course offerings. Board Chair Anne DeMartini announced the selection of Henry Chiong Vui Yong, 63, on Wednesday, a choice made in closed session with a unanimous vote. Yong will start July 1 as head of the district that includes Modesto Junior College and Columbia College. His annual salary will be $265,000. Modesto Bee article

Los Banos signs contract with first black superintendent – Jason Walsh told the Los Banos Unified School District Board Thursday that teachers have been asking him about the new superintendent, Mark Marshall. The teachers union president said he quipped to his coworkers that they shouldn’t repeat what he had to say. Los Banos Enterprise article

Will programs like this help more Merced County students more on to college or trade schools? – After 13 years in school, seniors graduating from Merced High School are starting to see the benefits of their long hours of studying and homework. “The payoff is here,” Principal Jon Schaefer said Wednesday. “It’s here in the form of options and opportunities.” Merced Sun-Star article


Star-crossed salon survive spillway’s erosion but suffocate – Officials say a quarter-million hatchery salmon survived the near-collapse of a California dam’s spillway this winter, only to suffocate now after a pump failed. AP article; Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Joe Mathews: Want to end California’s housing crisis? Unleash the developers – The crisis is urgent and has been years in the making, and the state’s legislative efforts to gain power over the problem could take many years, with hiccups and mistakes. Is there any way to go faster? Perhaps, but it would require the politically difficult step of empowering developers. Mathews in Fresno Bee

Mental health site rejected – What would have been Kings County’s first overnight mental health care facility is back on the drawing board after county supervisors rejected a proposed location. The proposed eight-bed facility, where people experiencing a mental health crisis could stay voluntarily for up to approximately 30 days, was being proposed for a large house at 11591 Houston Ave. Hanford Sentinel article


Ahron Hakimi: SB1 will help fix our deplorable roads, but it falls short – The executive director of Kern Council of Governments writes, “With an ever-growing list of retail distribution centers popping up – from Famous Footware, Ikea and Caterpillar in the south to Ross Dress-For-Less, Target and Sears in the north – our region has become a logistics hub that includes the only all-season access across the snowy Sierra Mountains in California. Our transportation network will only play a larger role in our economic well-being. SB 1 is a desperately needed step in the right direction, but will only get us so far. Innovation, hard work and setting tough priorities are the values that will take us across the finish line.” Hakimi op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Arambula appointed to High-Speed Rail Authority board — California Assemblyman Dr. Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno) has been appointed to the board of directors for the California High-Speed Rail Authority. The Business Journal article

California’s self-driving cars are rolling – and sometimes crashing – Self-driving cars have logged hundreds of thousands of test-drive miles on California highways over the last few years and could be available for public use by the end of 2017. Manufacturers, though, are still working out the kinks. Sometimes the vehicles crash. Sacramento Bee article

With ridership down, complaints up, BART to look at homeless problem – Facing declining ridership and rising complaints about conditions in downtown San Francisco stations, BART plans to take aim at what officials see as a possible reason for both — homelessness.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

‘In God We Trust’ to be put into Fresno City Council chamber – Fresno is the latest – and largest – city in California to give God a prominent place in its City Hall, as the City Council unanimously approved a resolution to add the national motto “In God We Trust” to the wall behind the dais in the council chamber. Fresno Bee article

Kings SPCA announces closing — After decades of existence, Kings SPCA, a nonprofit dedicated to the rescue and adoption of neglected cats and dogs, is shutting down. On Thursday morning, there was a closure sign attached to the chain-link gate of the facility, on 16 1/2 Ave. just off Grangeville Boulevard in a rural setting surrounded by fields and orchards. Hanford Sentinel article; Fresno Bee article

Leaders urged to invest in children – Stockton’s “most precious resource” is its children, Jesse Kenyan said at his brief invocation at Thursday’s third annual Community Leadership Breakfast. Kenyan — senior chaplain for the Stockton Police Department — urged the 200 leaders in attendance at Stockton Arena to muster the “courage and passion to address the struggles of our youth.” Stockton Record article

Tracy officials concerned over ambulance coverage — On Easter Sunday of 2016, a Tracy woman began experiencing severe breathing problems and called 911. An ambulance was dispatched from Manteca, and the woman waited 19 minutes before a second call was made. She died sometime after making that second 911 call, officials said. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian The Californian endorses Bruce Freeman for Ward 5 city councilman.

Fresno Bee – Put kids first. Ring the school bell later in the morning.

Modesto Bee – Not that we need more political comeuppance, but there it was: The Democratic governor of the liberal fortress that is California lecturing the Republican president and conservatives in Congress about taxation, penance and paying as you go.

Sacramento Bee –- California’s Democratic attorney general is prosecuting an 86-year-old Republican widow for electioneering in San Luis Obispo County. Xavier Becerra should give Edie Knight a stern talking to and let it go; The research is clear: Kids need more sleep. Senate Bill 328 by Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Canada Flintridge, would prevent the school day from starting before 8:30 a.m.; Not that we need more political comeuppance, but there it was: The Democratic governor of the liberal fortress that is California lecturing the Republican president and conservatives in Congress about taxation, penance and paying as you go.