December 2, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Jerry Brown picks Rep. Xavier Becerra as California attorney general — Gov. Jerry Brown has tabbed Rep. Xavier Becerra to serve as California’s interim attorney general, selecting the Los Angeles Democrat to fill a vacancy opened by the imminent departure of outgoing Attorney General Kamala Harris to the U.S. Senate. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times articleCapitol Weekly articleSacramento Bee editorial

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown jolts California politics with Becerra choice — When Gov. Jerry Brown chose Los Angeles Congressman Xavier Becerra to succeed Kamala Harris as the state’s attorney general Thursday, he gave California politics a jolt of high-voltage electricity. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Immigration courts buckling after years of stalled cases — With a backlog of more than 520,000 cases, many have become crippled by delays and bureaucratic breakdowns, creating a major obstacle for the president-elect’s deportation plans. New York Times article

Valley politics

Tie likely in Parlier school board race; other close Fresno County races decided by tiny margins — Several close races in Fresno County appear to have been decided Wednesday as the final 1,000 votes were tallied. One race for a Parlier Unified School District Board of Trustees seat appears to have ended in a tie, while other results remained the same as in previous updates. The final election numbers remain unofficial until the Fresno County Clerk certifies the election on Dec. 6. Fresno Bee article

Livingston council race in limbo – The City Council election in Livingston remains a cliffhanger that may not come to a head until the last moment, when the election is certified. Preliminary results show Wapinder Kang, a Livingston police officer, still in second in the race for three open council seats. The top three finishers in the seven-candidate race will win the seats, but state law appears to prevent Kang from being both a councilman and an officer in the same city. Merced Sun-Star article

Group continues with Kumar recall — The longest-serving Tulare Local HealthCare District board member is the subject of a recall – again. A petition was filed on Sept. 29 at the county’s elections office to have Dr. Parmod Kumar removed from office and a special election take place. Kumar, who has been on the board since 1994, filed his response on Oct. 6. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Rep. Xavier Becerra not ruling out a run for governor or U.S. Senate after being picked for California Attorney General – In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd this afternoon, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) said he was thankful for the “chance to make a big difference” for millions of Californians after being announced as Gov. Jerry Brown’s choice to replace California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris. Appearing on MSNBC, Becerra was coy when asked whether he would rule out campaigns for governor or U.S. Senate in 2018. LA Times article

California Senate leader Kevin de Leon won’t run for Becerra’s congressional seat, source says – California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León on Thursday lauded the appointment of Rep. Xavier Becerra as state attorney general, while a source close to the Senate leader said he has no plans to run for Becerra’s congressional seat when it is vacated. LA Times article

Becerra’s attorney general selection sets off scurry for House replacement — It didn’t take long after Xavier Becerra was selected as California’s next attorney general for the race to succeed him to begin. Less than an hour after Gov. Jerry Brown announced Thursday morning that the Democratic congressman from Los Angeles would take over for Attorney General Kamala Harris when she heads to the U.S. Senate next year, the first candidate emerged for this rare open House seat: former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez. Sacramento Bee article


Immigration detainees should be held in for-profit prisons, panel says — Immigration authorities should continue holding people accused of immigration violations in for-profit prisons despite complaints about safety and other problems, a Department of Homeland Security review panel has concluded after examining the issue. LA Times article

Other areas

Court revives lawsuit against California bullet stamping law – Gun manufacturers have the right to present evidence supporting their claim that technology does not exist to comply with a California law requiring new models of semi-automatic handguns to stamp identifying information on bullet casings, a state appeals court said Thursday. AP article

A year after San Bernardino terror attack, the FBI is still struggling to answer key questions – Despite piecing together a detailed picture of the couple’s actions up to and including the massacre, federal officials acknowledge they still don’t have answers to some of the critical questions posed in the days after the Dec. 2, 2015, attack at the Inland Regional Center. LA Times article

Bernie Sanders tells California audience that Democrats ‘cannot be the party of the liberal elite’ — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke to a sold-out crowd of 1,400 Tuesday night in Glendale, trying to help supporters grapple with the election of Donald Trump and chart a path forward. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Here are 4 government programs Trump’s team wants to privatize – Donald Trump was not the kind of presidential candidate who lays out the finer details of his policies on the campaign trail. Now, as the president-elect assembles his government, the people he is choosing to run it provide a clearer picture of the policies his administration will pursue. Among them are a lot of plans to privatize government programs, including Medicare, services provided by the Veterans Affairs department, college loans and infrastructure projects. McClatchy Newspapers article

Mayor Eric Garcetti is trying to strike balance with Donald Trump.  Will it pay off? – They spoke by phone last week, and Garcetti has expressed his willingness to work with the president-elect on infrastructure and the economy. At the same time, Garcetti has offered assurances that the city won’t aid Trump on any widespread crackdown against immigrants who are in the country without authorization.  It amounts to a political tightrope walk by Garcetti — an approach that could help the city in significant ways but may disappoint groups that want the mayor to take a harder line against Trump, especially on immigration. LA Times article

Victor Davis Hanson: Clinton’s and Obama’s roles in the greatest upset in political history – The mix of politics and culture is far too complex to be predictable. Even the best-laid political plans can lead to unintended consequences, both good and bad – what we sometimes call irony, nemesis or karma. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

‘Code Blue’: UC Davis students call Trump a ‘medical emergency’ – Calling it a “code blue” medical emergency, more than 100 UC Davis medical students held a rally on the Sacramento campus Thursday night to speak out about their fears for health care under incoming president Donald Trump. Sacramento Bee article

Angelo Haddad: The Electoral College: Mend it, don’t end it – The Bakersfield resident writes, “Since the election of the president is a national election, the electors’ vote in each state should be based on a national uniform standard of proportionality by congressional district. The current “winner take all” method is greatly skewed in favor of the larger, more populous states, which is what the founding strived to avoid. Haddad op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

News Stories – Top Stories

Uncle Sam took this farmer’s raisins, and now he wants his money — A raisin producer in California’s San Joaquin Valley can keep seeking compensation for portions of a crop turned over to a marketing order years ago, under a new court ruling. In a fight that now turns on the Fifth Amendment, a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge ruled that Lion Farms can continue its “takings” case and rejected Justice Department arguments that the statute of limitations had expired. McClatchy Newspapers article

California water plan seeks more saving by cities, not farms – A new conservation plan for California’s dry future would set custom water budgets for each urban water district for the first time. But some critics on Thursday were faulting the proposal for not ordering more water-savings by farms as well. AP article

Jobs and the Economy

California seeks injunction against proposed SEIU Local 1000 strike – Hoping to prevent an unprecedented and potentially disruptive one-day strike next week, the Brown administration is seeking an injunction against SEIU Local 1000 that would prohibit certain “essential employees” from participating in the planned work stoppage. Sacramento Bee article

How much should it cost to park in downtown Fresno? City leaders look for answer – Parking rates in downtown Fresno, from city-owned garages to curbside parking meters, could be in for an overhaul as the city confronts the need to maintain and improve its parking garages. Fresno Bee article

Fresno breaks into nation’s top 100 hottest housing markets forecast in 2017 – We made it into the top 100 coming in at No. 43, not far behind San Francisco and Bakersfield at No. 37 and No. 35, respectively. So, we’re still hot, just not on fire like Sacramento. Fresno Bee article

Valley foreclosure rates fell in September – Foreclosure rates in the Central Valley continued a downward slide in September, according to new data from real estate information firm CoreLogic. The Business Journal article

Daniel Borenstein: CalPERS must stop sticking taxpayers with pension debt – To shore up rapidly deteriorating finances, CalPERS will consider significantly reducing its investment forecast in a long-overdue move that could shake up government retirement funds across the country. Borenstein in East Bay Times

Under settlement, Modesto would pay manager $236,000 not to work – Modesto could pay its longtime solid waste manager more than $236,000 through the end of 2018 to do no work.This arrangement is part of a Nov. 15 settlement agreement between the city and Jocelyn Reed. It calls for Reed to be on administrative leave while she collects her $113,587 annual salary through Dec. 31, 2018. She also will receive 2 percent pay raises in June 2017 and June 2018. Modesto Bee article

Starbucks: Schultz to step down as CEO, focus on innovation — Starbucks says CEO Howard Schultz, who transformed the chain into a global coffee brand, is stepping down from that role at the coffee chain that he joined more than 30 years ago. AP article

Opponents of Elk Grove casino head to court — Opponents of the proposed Indian casino in Elk Grove have fired their latest shot – a lawsuit accusing the city of violating California’s strict environmental laws by approving the $400 million project. Sacramento Bee article

Transamerica to close LA and Folsom offices, exiting California – Financial services and insurance company Transamerica said Thursday that it will close its office in Los Angeles, cutting about 315 jobs. The Baltimore company will also close its office in Folsom, where 30 employees will be affected. Transamerica will no longer have operations in California, though the company still owns the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco. LA Times article

See where in Sacramento officers issue the most parking tickets for expired meters — The city of Sacramento has given out more than 130,000 parking tickets citywide for expired meters since the start of 2015, according to a Sacramento Bee review of parking data. Those tickets have resulted in more than $5 million in levied fines (at $42.50 a pop). Sacramento Bee article


Agreement with Kern County means water planning can move forward – Kern County has reached tentative agreement with several groups trying to form groundwater agencies per a new state law. This means those groups can move ahead creating plans to stabilize the region’s groundwater basin. Bakersfield Californian article

Push is on for hemp farming – With all the focus on Proposition 64’s legalization of recreational pot, many people didn’t notice a section of the new law that legalizes something else: industrial hemp. Hanford Sentinel article

Tony Francois: Federal water for tiny fish leave other species high and dry – The senior staff attorney with Pacific Legal Foundation writes, “I sometimes have to wonder how the San Joaquin Valley’s federal water managers look themselves in the mirror. Since 2008, they have withheld the water of life from the Valley in order to protect the Delta smelt, at the cost to the Valley of tens of thousands of jobs lost, hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland fallowed, and billions of dollars in economic harm to Valley communities. All the while insisting that they had to do this to protect one species of endangered wildlife, no matter the cost to families and communities. The cruel joke in all of this has actually two punch lines. Francois op-ed in Fresno Bee

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Judge delays prison entry date for convicted cop — A former Bakersfield Police Department detective who was sentenced to five years in prison in October after he pleaded guilty to trafficking in methamphetamine and taking bribes, will be allowed to stay out of prison until at least February. Bakersfield Californian article

Ken Carlson: Sheriff’s helicopter crew didn’t ‘top off the tank’ prior to accident – The July 30 accident that put a Stanislaus County search-and-rescue helicopter out of service occurred on a busy weekend for search teams in the Sierra region. Modesto Bee article

Tulare County sheriff’s drone program takes off – Law enforcement agencies are shooting for the stars or rather the skies, in an effort to keep the public safe. Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux recently announced the launch of the department’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle program. Visalia Times-Delta article

New email service to update victims about state prison inmates’ status – The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced the launch of its new automated email notification services to better communicate with crime victims. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento Bee: Sacramento’s new rules are just a first step toward police reform – The reforms passed Tuesday by the Sacramento City Council should be viewed as only the start of a longer conversation in a state that makes police accountability far too hard. Sacramento Bee editorial

This man allegedly told police he beat a 14-month-old to death. He may not face charges – The Fresno County District Attorney declined to file charges Thursday against a Fresno man who allegedly told police that he punched a 14-month-old in the stomach, killing the infant. Fresno Bee article

Plea deal for defendant in Turlock Sikh Temple fight — A man involved in a large fight at the Sikh Temple in Turlock has been convicted, but he can avoid jail time by completing an anger management course and staying out of trouble for another year. Modesto Bee article

LAPD officers who fatally shot homeless man on skid row were legally justified, DA says – Prosecutors have concluded that Los Angeles police officers were legally justified in shooting a homeless man last year on skid row, a videotaped killing that attracted international attention and renewed the local debate over interactions between police and L.A.’s homeless population. LA Times article

On 5th anniversary of baby’s death, Stanislaus investigators seek aid — Five years to the day a newborn baby was found dead in a garbage can at a Waterford minimart, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department issued a plea for the public’s help in the investigation. Modesto Bee article

Backing the blue: Students in Ceres and Turlock connect with cops — The public service and tragic death last month of Stanislaus County sheriff’s Deputy Dennis Wallace were remembered in gatherings students in Ceres and Turlock held Thursday to show their appreciation for local law enforcement personnel. Modesto Bee article

Former principal arrested, for second time, in husband’s 2013 killing – Three years after the killing of Todd Chance, his wife, a former elementary school principal who was originally named a suspect in 2013, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of murder. Bakersfield Californian articleLA Times article

Driver dies in police custody after being Tased twice following erratic driving in Elk Grove — A man died in police custody Wednesday night after resisting arrest and after officers deployed a Taser twice in an effort to bring him under control on Elk Grove Boulevard. Sacramento Bee article


GAO: About $108 billion in student loan debt to be forgiven – The federal government is expected to forgive at least $108 billion in student loan debt as part of popular plans that tie repayment to borrowers’ earnings, congressional investigators said Wednesday. AP article

Lawsuit: Kern High School District officer tased student twice — An 18-year-old Bakersfield High School student who was late to class and refused to leave his desk until his teacher marked him as present was tased twice by a Kern High School District Police Department officer, a lawsuit filed in September claims. Bakersfield Californian article

Trump’s plan intended to reduce high cost of child care through tax breaks – Tax deductions and rebates are at the heart of President-elect Donald Trump’s child care policy proposal, which would offer the most help to high-income families, some help to middle-income taxpayers and less to low-income parents. EdSource article

CSUB project honored, hall of famers announced – Gov. Jerry Brown has selected a project nominated by Cal State Bakersfield’s Walter W. Stiern Library to receive the Governor’s Historic Preservation Award for 2016, university officials announced Thursday. Bakersfield Californian article

Turlock’s Renaissance arts magnet shares space with scientists — Teaching goes at warp speed at Walnut Elementary, or, as Principal Mark Holmes put it: “For a first-year teacher here, if you can imagine a train flying down the tracks with someone hanging onto the caboose and flapping in the wind, that’s what it’s like.” The Turlock campus, home to an arts magnet and a math-science magnet, boasts high test scores, a standout attendance rate, uber-involved parents and teachers known for their collaborative zeal. Modesto Bee article

Growth of career programs emphasizing hands-on learning offers students new opportunities — Angelica Verde, a senior at Tustin High in Orange County, spent last summer immersed in her dream internship, shadowing engineers at the Boeing Company as they worked on the latest technology in space exploration.  EdSource article

University of the Pacific: Campus offers food pantry – Many university and college students across the nation, including at Pacific, are dealing with food insecurity. According to various studies and surveys, some students are opting to forego meals or cut back on servings to save money. To meet the need, Pacific launched a food pantry five years ago. Stockton Record article

Chavez teacher assaulted in classroom — Stockton Unified School District officials are looking into an incident at Cesar Chavez High School early Thursday in which a teacher was assaulted by a student who threw a chair. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services

California health officials report first death of flu season – California health officials on Thursday confirmed the state’s first death of this year’s influenza season and reminded everyone to get a flu shot before more people get sick. LA Times article

Rose Parade float turns 9-year-old’s tragic death into a call for organ donations – Sebastian Amezcua was 9 when he died following a car crash in December 2007. But through organ donation, his death saved three lives. To help honor his sacrifice, a floral portrait created in his honor and completed by his family during an unveiling Thursday at Univision will be part of the 2017 Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 2. Fresno Bee article

VA may have infected 600 veterans with HIV and Hepatitis — Nearly 600 veterans could have been infected with HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C at a Veterans Affairs facility in Tomah, Wis. because a dentist didn’t properly clean his instruments. McClatchy Newspapers article

Land Use/Housing

Creating new parks, maintaining current ones backed by Fresno City Council – A long-range plan for the development and maintenance of Fresno parks was unanimously approved Thursday by the Fresno City Council, setting the stage for a comprehensive parks master plan for adoption next summer. Fresno Bee article

Public gives more input on Lemoore General Plan — Residents gave their input again on the future of Lemoore at a general plan update meeting Tuesday. It was the second of four planned meetings aimed at receiving public feedback to update the city’s general plan. The general plan outlines goals and policies for future development in Lemoore and adjacent areas. Hanford Sentinel article

Other areas

Forest Service firefighter testifies about assault, retribution and pervasive bias – A Forest Service firefighter from California’s Eldorado National Forest blew another whistle Thursday on sexual harassment and gender bias inside federal public lands agencies. McClatchy Newspapers article

Tioga Pass, Glacier Point roads in Yosemite National Park are closed for the season — Tioga Pass and Glacier Point roads in Yosemite National Park are closed for the season, park officials said Thursday. A series of storm systems passed through the area over the last several weeks, resulting in snow accumulation throughout the park, said Yosemite officials. The roads typically close every fall and remain closed through the winter months until weather conditions permit reopening in the spring. Fresno Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: The bestiality case grows murky – This newspaper has real-time analytics, and they show that all week long the most-read story is about bestiality. I don’t invent the news. I just try to make sense of it. With due respect to all, some aspects of this deviant, revolting, you-gotta-be-kidding-me case are too outré and hearsay-based to be accepted until corroborated by investigators. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Columbus may share day with indigenous people under Sacramento City Council proposal — Christopher Columbus may have to share his October holiday with indigenous people if a resolution before City Council is passed next week. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Jeff Tedford is the right coach to rebuild Fresno State football; Thumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee –- By selecting Rep. Xavier Becerra to be California’s next attorney general, Gov. Jerry Brown is making clear that he will stand up against whatever Donald Trump’s administration might fling at this state; The reforms passed Tuesday by the Sacramento City Council should be viewed as only the start of a longer conversation in a state that makes police accountability far too hard.