April 16, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

John Myers: There’s not a single California congressional district with Republicans in the majority – When it comes to California’s 53 congressional districts, first impressions are deceiving. Republicans have held tightly to their seats in the House of Representatives, but the latest data beg the question of whether the party’s grip could be loosening. Fourteen congressional districts are represented by Republicans. But in none do they comprise a majority of voters. Their highest concentration, nestled in the Sierra foothills district of Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove), is slightly less than 44%. LA Times article

Jeff Jardine: Can Denham handle heat of town hall critics? We’ll find out Monday night — While Denham no doubt will have his share of supporters, a group consisting of Valley progressives and Democrats accused him of ducking them by avoiding a town hall until after the scheduled vote to repeal Obamacare – the one that didn’t happen because Republicans couldn’t muster the votes. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown pardons three veterans deported to Mexico — Gov. Jerry Brown, in a spring tradition timed to the Easter renewal, extended pardons Saturday to three people who served in the U.S. military but were deported to Mexico after completing sentences for various crimes. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; Fresno Bee article

Q&A: ‘The world shifts’: Gov. Jerry Brown talks California, climate change, and President Trump — The Times talked to Jerry Brown about climate change and California’s role in fighting it. Here’s what he had to say. LA Times article

Valley politics

Michael Fitzgerald: Tubbs’ first 100 days: impressive ideas, big challenges — Next to the Asparagus Festival, Tubbs, one of America’s youngest mayors, brings Stockton its best press. Otherwise, the city’s fundamental challenges remain: crime, unemployment, blight and a political culture in a 12-step recovery program from drama and dysfunction. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Dan Schnur: Where Kamala Harris and Ronald Reagan would agree — Do the Democrats need their own Tea Party? If one intransigent movement in Congress can create so many problems from the right, imagine what life in Washington would be like if its mirror image emerges from the left. But that seems to be the direction we’re headed. Schnur column in San Francisco Chronicle


In a shift, deportees find ‘open arms’ in Mexico — The number of Mexicans kicked out of the United States actually fell at the start of President Trump’s term, but politicians and others in Mexico have seized on the issue. New York Times article

Other areas

That $52-billion road bill just made California’s next climate change move a heavy lift – It took late-night cajoling and nearly $1 billion in deal sweeteners for Gov. Jerry Brown and top Democrats to muscle through a $52-billion tax-and-fee plan just over a week ago to repair California’s roads. Now they have to do it all again. Brown and legislative leaders have another daunting battle ahead over the fate of the cap-and-trade program, the centerpiece of California’s efforts to combat climate change. LA Times article

Willie Brown: How to succeed in politics: Talk with the other side, avoid FBI — When I was asked to to speak to a group of up-and-coming black politicians in San Francisco the other day, my first advice was to “listen to everyone.” And my last was to beware, because the FBI may be listening as well. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

Why employers shouldn’t ask about an applicant’s previous salary — This month, New York City joined Philadelphia and Massachusetts in passing legislation that will ban employers from asking job applicants about their salary history, in an attempt to narrow the wage gap between women and men. More than 20 other cities and states — including San Francisco and California — have similar legislation in the works. The goal is to prevent gender discrimination from being passed from one workplace to the next by basing an employee’s pay on his or her prior salary. San Francisco Chronicle article

Congress needs to reach a budget deal in a matter of days.  What could go wrong? — Congress will return the last week in April from its spring recess with major unfinished business: a budget for the close of the fiscal year. Congressional leaders say they’re confident they will deliver, but there are plenty of controversies that could derail the optimism. McClatchy Newspapers article

Presidential Politics

21 arrested as punches and smoke bombs fly at Trump rally in Berkeley — Hundreds of pro-Trump demonstrators and counterprotesters clashed Saturday at a “Patriots Day” rally in Berkeley, the third time the groups engaged in violent confrontations on city streets in recent months. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article; KQED report

Trump: ‘Who paid for’ rallies seeking release of tax returns — President Donald Trump says “someone should look into who paid” for the rallies around the country Saturday that urged him to release his tax returns. AP article; Modesto Bee article; LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Bold promises, fewer results: Trump’s executive orders don’t always live up to his claims – Trump revels in executive orders. With his legislative program either stymied — as in the case of healthcare — or far behind schedule, Trump has used orders he can sign in front of TV cameras to provide images of decisive action. But a review by The Times of the 39 orders and presidential memorandums signed by Trump found that fewer than half actually made a substantive change in federal policy. LA Times article

Trump says he can’t be sued for violence at his rallies because he won the election – Last year, protesters from a campaign rally sued Donald Trump — claiming the future president urged his supporters to assault them. Now Trump is the president, of course. And while the lawsuit grinds on, with more accusations added last week, he claims he won immunity along with the election. Washington Post article

Trump’s plan to privatize air traffic control has benefits and pitfalls – The Trump administration has proposed that the U.S. follow Canada’s lead by turning over management of the nation’s air traffic control system to an independent non-government group that would be funded entirely by airport user fees. LA Times article

With Trump appointees, a raft of potential conflicts and ‘no transparency’ — President Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck. New York Times article

Foon Rhee: Charity begins at home, especially under Trump — With President Trump wanting to slash social program budgets to boost defense spending, donations to local charities are even more important. One of them is Meals on Wheels, which his budget director dismissed for not showing results. Riding with a volunteer might change his mind. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

News Stories – Top Stories

How the drought changed California forever — California’s historic five-year drought is officially over, washed away with the relentlessly drenching rains, floods and snowstorms of this winter. But just as tougher building codes and better emergency planning follow major earthquakes, the brutally dry years from 2012 to 2016 are already leaving a legacy, experts say, changing the way Californians use water for generations to come. San Jose Mercury News article

China’s bad air leads to the San Joaquin Valley’s problems, but the toxic nightmare is already here — China’s soot and ozone gases ride the high-elevation jet stream to California, scientists say. Coal particles have even been collected in monitoring traps amid the majestic giant sequoia groves of the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno. But on both sides of the Pacific Ocean, there’s more to the story. On the U.S. side, the pollution coming from China is not nearly the biggest problem in California – especially for the troubled San Joaquin Valley. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Marijuana goes industrial in California – The vast and fertile Salinas Valley is often called the salad bowl of the nation for the countless heads of lettuce growing across its floor. Now California’s marijuana industry is laying claim to a new slogan for the valley: America’s cannabis bucket. After years of marijuana being cultivated in small plots out of sight from the authorities, California cannabis is going industrial. New York Times article

Culture, cuisine, community, crime – State of Downtown touches on all — The Downtown Modesto Partnership’s first State of Downtown Modesto gathering was held Friday at the Gallo Center for the Arts. Attendance was estimated at between 175-200, with the audience representing “the overall Modesto community with an emphasis on property and business owners,” organizers said. Modesto Bee article

Amazon introduces first Northern California on-site classroom – Want to go into the healthcare field, logistics, or maybe video game design? Go to work at Amazon and your employer could help make that happen. The internet retail giant last week introduced its “on-site education center” at the fulfillment center in Tracy. Modesto Bee article

Battling racial inequality, segregation in Bay Area restaurants — Occupational segregation is a nationwide issue in the restaurant industry, and the Bay Area is among the country’s worst offenders. Despite the region’s liberal and inclusive reputation, the race/wage gap in San Francisco is the highest in the country — roughly twice that of Houston. San Francisco Chronicle article

Census officials want to change how they want to count people in 2020, but observers say there isn’t enough money — The next national census is still three years away, but national advocacy groups say the government is running out of time and money to do it right. LA Times article


Ellen Hanak and Jeffrey Mount: These policy changes will help California prepare for the next drought – Hanak, director of the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center, and Mount, a senior fellow at the center, write, “This drought also brought some hard lessons and gave us a glimpse into the future. Record warm temperatures – comparable to those predicted by many climate scientists for later this century – made drought management harder. Improving drought resilience in this increasingly challenging climate will require the following steps.” Hanak/Mount op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Bids for Oroville Dam repairs top state estimates: $275.4 million the lowest — Blowing past state officials’ financial projections, three construction contractors submitted bids for the Oroville Dam repairs that begin at $275 million, the Department of Water Resources said Saturday. Sacramento Bee article

Joyce Terhaar: Dear California water officials: After Oroville Dam scare, why should we trust you? – In its current shape, Oroville Dam is not safe, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is using a law intended to stop terrorism to keep details secret. Brown’s administration denied public access to records that would tell us what led to the near failure of the emergency spillway. Terhaar in Sacramento Bee

USGS finds vast reserves of salty water underground in California — A new nationwide study has unearthed the huge hidden potential of tapping into salty aquifers as a way to relieve the growing pressure on freshwater supplies across the United States. San Jose Mercury News article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Boy, 16, shot by Fresno cop linked to Friday dispute, killing — A 16-year-old was in critical condition Saturday after he was shot by a Fresno police sergeant, with the boy linked to a shooting a day earlier that led to the death of another teenager. Fresno Bee article


Q&A: What’s the big deal about that Fresno State lecturer’s Trump Tweet? — A Fresno State lecturer’s Tweet that President Donald Trump “must hang” has led to an investigation by the Secret Service, and people are debating how serious an offense it is and what should be done. Fresno Bee article

White supremacist who created stir at Stanislaus State seen punching woman at Berkeley protest — The leader of an alt-right group attending California State University, Stanislaus, was caught on video Saturday punching a woman in the face at a protest in Berkeley. Modesto Bee article

Steve Taylor: Skating on common core won’t bring jobs here – The Oakdale resident writes, “when I’m finally ready to get behind Common Core and its goofy collaboration emphasis, I learn we’re not teaching it well. Lumping all elementary and secondary students across Stanislaus County, 70 percent did not meet the standards in math and 60 percent didn’t meet them in English Language Arts/Literacy, according to state’s 2016 report. To change this, we’re going to have to teach our kids to communicate and work together better, especially if we want a balanced, lightweight ice hockey stick for a reasonable price.” Taylor op-ed in Modesto Bee

Workaday science ties learning to earning for kids at Brown school — The ag connections in ice cream. The nutrition behind basketball. The geology of jewelry. Science is everywhere, Brown Elementary students know, thanks to Science in the Community Day, a 20-plus year tradition at the north Turlock campus. Modesto Bee article


Lois Henry: ‘Unpopular’ science plays a vital role in getting at the truth — Is PM2.5 killing people, or not? It seems like a basic scientific question. Yet, as a recently published study shows, the science is anything but settled. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Bakersfield Californian: Dead trees are talking to us — The devastating, drought-induced kill-off of trees both public and private throughout Bakersfield and Kern County over the past six years leaves us with two important lessons. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Land Use/Housing

The future is in … a parking garage? Here’s one way driverless cars will change urban development – AvalonBay is not the only real estate developer that has bought into the idea. Rick Caruso, the owner of the Grove and other upscale shopping centers, is working with Google to prepare for the arrival of self-driving cars and is looking forward to eventually swapping mall parking spaces for apartments, restaurants and stores. The strategy reflects a consensus among some developers and planners that California’s vaunted car culture is inevitably going to run out of gas — as inconceivable as that might be for many adults who have spent decades controlling their own destiny behind the wheel. LA Times article

Tiny homes yield bigger problem: Where to put them – While tiny homes, which typically range in price from $30,000 to $45,000, generate plenty of fanfare, press and excitement, locally it’s hard to find someone who lives in one. The biggest question facing owners of tiny homes: “Where do you live in it once it’s done?” Sacramento Bee article

Last resident in path of project girds for move — Lorrie Guiltinan is the only resident still living directly in the path of the 24th Street widening project. And does she ever know it. Bakersfield Californian article


North County Corridor roundabout debate has people going in circles – When a government agency announces intent to build a roundabout, the debate always gets people going around and around. Nowhere is that more true than with the North County Corridor, a future 18-mile expressway between Modesto and Riverbank and bypassing Oakdale. Modesto Bee article

Modesto hires new bus operator — The city will have a new operator for its Modesto Area Express bus system, Illinois-based National Express Transit Corp. The City Council on Tuesday approved hiring National Express under a contract that could run as long as eight years at an estimated cost of $74.5 million. State and federal funding as well as passenger fares pay for Modesto’s bus system. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Devastating illness closes Stockton animal shelter — The Stockton Animal Shelter was closed Saturday and will remain closed until noon Tuesday while officials deal with the aftermath of a potentially fatal disease. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian The devastating, drought-induced kill-off of trees both public and private throughout Bakersfield and Kern County over the past six years leaves us with two important lessons.

Fresno Bee – Legislators need to resolve lingering questions about the cap-and-trade program. It won’t be easy, not after legislators agreed earlier this month for the first time in two decades to raise gasoline taxes and other fees to generate $5 billion a year pay for road maintenance and transit. The costs of cap and trade ultimately fall on us all.