April 17, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories 

California Democrats focus on normally safe GOP House seats — Democratic plans to target half of California’s 14 Republican members of Congress in the 2018 midterm elections represent a high-stakes bet that President Trump’s continuing unpopularity in the state will filter down to even the strongest GOP candidates. There are some familiar names on the Democratic hit list. Jeff Denham of Turlock (Stanislaus County), David Valadao of Hanford (Kings County) and Steve Knight of Lancaster (Los Angeles County) were all targets in 2016, and Darrell Issa of Vista (San Diego County) barely held on to his seat. San Francisco Chronicle article

ICE immigration arrests of noncriminals double under Trump — Immigration arrests rose 32.6 percent in the first weeks of the Trump administration, with newly empowered federal agents intensifying their pursuit of not just undocumented immigrants with criminal records, but also thousands of illegal immigrants who have been otherwise law-abiding. Washington Post article

Gov. Brown 

Daughters of murder victim hurt by Gov. Brown’s parole decision — Devastation filled the hearts of David Russo’s daughters when they learned through a news report Saturday that Gov. Jerry Brown had granted Susan Russo, who is serving a life sentence for the murder-for-hire killing of their father, a chance for parole. Fresno Bee article


Homeland Security chief says ‘confusion’ spurred by the Trump administration in stemming illegal immigration – Tough rhetoric from the Trump administration has injected “confusion” into those who are considering crossing illegally into the United States and made them abandon their travel plans, a senior official said Sunday. LA Times article 

Tax filings seen dipping amid Trump crackdown on illegal immigration – Millions of taxpayers are rushing to complete their federal and state filings before the April 18 deadline. Among them are several million people in this country illegally, and there are signs that fewer such immigrants are filing than in years past. NPR report 

Queer and undocumented: A powerful force in the Dreamer movement — They took on the in-your-face civil disobedience of gay rights groups and the practice of ‘coming out.’ KQED report

Other areas 

Modesto leader of alt-right group focus of video gone viral at Berkeley protest — A day after he was seen in a video gone viral punching a woman in the face during a protest in Berkeley, a Modesto-area leader of an alt-right group wished everyone a “Happy Easter” on social media. Nathan Damigo, a student at California State University, Stanislaus, wrote to his followers on Twitter on Sunday morning: “To all my supporters and thousands of new followers, Happy Easter!” Modesto Bee article 

Break away from the USA? The effort to cleave California faces its own split — If there’s one thing Jed Wheeler and Marcus Ruiz Evans agree on, it’s that things in California need to change. The state sends too much money to Washington, they say, and is both politically and culturally out of step with a country that lacks its openness and vitality. LA Times article 

Lawmakers across U.S. move to include young people in voting — Donald Trump’s characterization of Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists during his presidential campaign angered Heidi Sainz, whose family is from Mexico and who has close friends who are immigrants. She was also upset that she couldn’t do anything about it at the ballot box because she was a year shy of being able to vote. AP article 

Presidential Politics

How Berkeley became the epicenter of violent Trump clashes – For one thing, the city, along with Oakland and San Francisco, has a long-established protest culture. The UC Berkeley campus is famously known as the home of the Free Speech Movement. So when pro-Trump forces decided to rally there, plenty of counter-protesters were at the ready to respond. LA Times article 

Community on the hunt for Trump’s taxes – The man who led the way for Visalia’s Tax March on Saturday wore a Vietnam Veteran cap and carried a large American flag. The flag belonged to his father who died in World War II. Visalia Times-Delta article

News Stories

Top Stories

One key way soggy California could save water for the next rainless days — There is so much water in the state’s vast plumbing system that for weeks, the big government water projects have reduced exports from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. San Luis Reservoir, where the projects park water on its way south, is full. Yet there is more room than ever in one of the state’s most capacious storage spaces: the San Joaquin Valley aquifer. LA Times article 

Another court setback for protectors of pensions – In another ruling allowing pension cuts, an appeals court last week overturned a state labor board ruling that a voter-approved San Diego pension reform was invalid because the city declined to bargain the issue with labor unions. Calpensions article

Jobs and the Economy

Casualties in Big Sur fire point to hazards of ‘wildfire gig economy — The agencies that battle California wildfires every year rely on an army of private contractors for key firefighting roles. But two incidents during last year’s Soberanes Fire in Big Sur — one that killed a bulldozer operator and another that seriously injured a water tender driver — reveal that many of those involved in what amounts to a wildfire gig economy regularly face potentially deadly conditions with little or no guarantee of basic protections. KQED report


Extra rainstorms prompt the reopening of Oroville Dam spillway — State officials have reopened the damaged spillway at Oroville Dam as another set of rainstorms began moving across Northern California. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Police shoot ex-con following attack on girlfriend – Stockton police shot a 26-year-old ex-convict on Sunday afternoon after he allegedly rammed a patrol car and a citizen’s car following a domestic disturbance near Filbert and Washington streets, just south of the Crosstown Freeway. Stockton Record article 

Sealed transcript next issue in Silva case –  Six weeks have passed since Anthony Silva’s arrest, but his attorneys still have not viewed the sealed transcript of grand jury testimony that led to the indictment of Stockton’s former mayor on charges of embezzlement and money laundering. This is neither because of negligence nor a lack of inquisitiveness. Rather, it’s been by design. Stockton Record article 

Steve Flores: Inmate-made Millennium Falcon helps community — Made famous by the galactically successful Star Wars film franchise, the Millennium Falcon was known as the fastest ship in the galaxy. Despite her unassuming beginnings and rough exterior, the Falcon has made its mark in the epic space opera film series — and in an unexpected place in Wasco. Flores column in Bakersfield Californian 

Speed enforced by aircraft: Is it really? — We’ve seen the signs on the highways warning that our speed is being enforced by aircraft; there are several in Stanislaus County. When I was a kid, I would imagine a plane, its wingspan stretching across four lanes of traffic, landing on the highway in pursuit of scofflaws. The California Highway Patrol for decades has been watching the state’s highways from the sky, but the signs these days are more a relic of speed enforcement’s past. Modesto Bee article


Career fair in Merced connects middle school students with universities and professionals — Hundreds of students and their families gathered for a career fair at Tenaya Middle School to meet with professionals in various career areas and officials from colleges and universities, according to a statement from the Merced City School District. Merced Sun-Star article

Teacher improvements lead to improvements in state tests — Changes are underway to fix flaws in tests designed to help teachers pinpoint student weaknesses before they take Common Corealigned assessments each spring. EdSource article

Modesto City Schools ready to vote on final map for trustee areas — Modesto City Schools trustees will meet at 6 p.m. Monday to consider the long-awaited split into voting areas. The timing will allow the district to hold its first by-area elections in November. Modesto Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Overcoming opioids: The quest for less addictive drugs — With some 2 million Americans hooked on opioid painkillers, drug companies are racing to find alternatives to stem the epidemic. AP article

Land Use/Housing 

Blueprint for Bay Area aims to ‘change the dynamics’ of housing crisis — The only way for the Bay Area to become a relatively affordable place to live again is for cities and counties to be more tolerant of different types of housing, according to the draft of a new regional plan. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Marijuana and Merced splash pad on the docket for Monday meeting — Merced will talk about medical marijuana and a city park, among other topics, during Monday’s regular City Council meeting. The City Council approved four medical marijuana dispensaries and indoor cultivation during a July meeting. The dispensaries would be allowed in commercial offices, but the council has said the city will not take applications from potential dispensary owners until it has a regulatory system in place. Merced Sun-Star article 

Fitz’s Stockton: The Queen is making a comeback — Once upon a time, Stockton built a beautiful riverboat. A national treasure, the Delta Queen plied the Mississippi and other rivers right up until 2008, when Congress made her quit. Now the Senate has relented, voting to allow the Delta Queen back on the rivers. The bill went to the House. Fitz’s Stockton in Stockton Record