February 14, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

California farmers hope Congress and Trump team can deliver irrigation drain deal — The political terrain appears favorable for a mega-million-dollar irrigation drainage deal, with Congress still fully in Republican hands and California’s sprawling Westlands Water District with influential allies. But there are complications. One is a legal cloud over a neighboring water district. The other comes with the state’s two Democratic senators, who remain uncommitted. McClatchy Newspapers article

Dan Walters: Oroville Dam crisis warns us of need to maintain infrastructure — Recriminations about Oroville, even if deserved, should not obscure the larger lesson that we must be willing to do – and pay for – the maintenance and enhancement of our vital public facilities. That’s obviously true of dams and other hydrologic systems that supply water and protect us from floods, but also applies to the electric power grid, our roadway network and everything else that a modern civilization needs to function. It’s a truism that Capitol politicians should remember in light of their decades-long failure to adequately maintain the state’s highway network. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown 

‘We’re doing everything we can,’ Jerry Brown says of dam emergency — California Gov. Jerry Brown, appealing to the Trump administration for direct federal assistance on the Oroville Dam’s emergency spillway, said Monday that he remains encouraged that the state and federal government can work constructively.  Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Jerry Brown says he’s not worried that Trump’s criticism of California will stifle help on Oroville Dam emergency — Gov. Jerry Brown, who asked President Trump for federal disaster assistance in the wake of the emergency at the Oroville Dam, said Monday that he’s not worried about the recent rancor between the president and California.  LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

In the Capitol, myth vs. reality – Over the years, there have been myriad misconceptions about different aspects of state law making. So let’s hold our breath, take a deep dive into the Capitol and separate the myths from the reality. Later, we’ll also look at amendments, committees, the governor, special sessions, floor actions and the like. Capitol Weekly article


The federal government denies that it has broadened the scope of its immigration raids – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security pushed back Monday against claims that it had broadened the scope of its immigration enforcement raids, saying that about three-quarters of the 680 immigrants arrested by federal agents last week had criminal convictions. LA Times articleNPR report

California Assembly rejects Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigrants — In a debate that both sides agreed was largely symbolic, the California Assembly on Monday ratified a resolution criticizing President Trump’s contentious executive order imposing new limits on refugees and other immigrants. LA Times article

Other areas

Buy a car, help fix California’s roads – Assembly Republicans released a road-funding plan Monday that contains no new taxes but poses a $4.6 billion hit to the general fund, the main source of money for state programs.  Sacramento Bee article

Lawmakers should flex their muscles when approving key climate change program, legislative analyst says – State lawmakers should take more control over California’s signature program to combat climate change, the state’s nonpartisan legislative analyst said in a new report Monday .  LA Times article

Proposal would block release of police body camera footage showing victims of rape and domestic violence – A new bill in the California Legislature would prohibit the public release of police body camera footage depicting victims of rape, incest, child abuse or domestic violence. LA Times article

Republicans have few answers on health care plan – Representatives in Wisconsin, California, Utah and across the United States have faced constituents demanding to know what will replace the Affordable Care Act — and so far, they have little to say. New York Times article

Abortion rates drop in California amid federal debate on Planned Parenthood, reproductive rights — Abortion rates are at an all-time low in California, and both sides of the political aisle are taking credit.  Sacramento Bee article

Tony Madrigal: We all pay the more Sacramento delays on fixing our roads – The member of Modesto City Council writes, “The California legislature urgently needs to pass a transportation funding package in 2017 to address the billions in backlogged road maintenance that has led to potholes, deteriorating roads, bridges and transit systems in our community. The longer we wait to fix the small problems, the bigger and more expensive they become. In fact, it costs eight times more to fix a road than to simply maintain it.” Madrigal op-ed in Modesto Bee

California senator wants to push back school start times — State Sen. Anthony Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge, introduced a bill Monday that would prohibit middle and high schools from starting classes before 8:30 a.m. Citing a recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Portantino says school districts that push back the school day start see an increase in attendance rates, grade point averages and test scores, among other benefits. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

With Trump in the limelight, Congress has been quietly working to undo Obama-era regulations – While President Trump’s daily activities continue to consume much of the nation’s attention, Congress has quietly launched a legislating spree at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. LA Times article

Trump is urged to reject tax law’s ‘Cadillac Tax’ and retain employee tax break — Employer groups say the 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans must go, while the tax exclusion for job-based health coverage should stay. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump has gotten even less popular while in office — The of the enduring myths of President Trump’s political career is the belief that “nothing matters” — that the controversies that surround him have no effect on his standing with the public. The three weeks since Trump’s inauguration have once again proven that untrue: Trump has lost significant ground in public approval in the aftermath of a rough start.  LA Times article

How Trump avoided being asked about his embattled national security advisor — Since he was sworn into office, President Donald Trump has selected reporters from conservative or friendly media outlets to ask him questions at his news conferences, a pattern that appears aimed at least in part at avoiding touchy subjects. McClatchy Newspapers article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

Kern County plans 3.5 percent cuts for upcoming budget — Kern County departments will be asked to cut the amount of general fund cash they use next fiscal year by 3.5 percent, saving the county $9.8 million. But that covers less than a third of the county’s problem. Bakersfield Californian article

Will it hold? Oroville Dam makes it through key test — As massive releases of water pummeled its surface all night Sunday and all day Monday, the main spillway at Oroville Dam showed no new signs of erosion, reducing the chances of a catastrophic collapse that would flood vast expanses of Butte, Yuba and Sutter counties, state officials said. Sacramento Bee articleKQED reportNew York Times articleLA Times article

UC Merced students dismayed over New York Times story that used dorm room numbers – UC Merced students profiled this month in a New York Times story about undocumented immigrants say their safety has been put at risk because the Times’ reporter published their dorm room addresses. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

Summit addresses economic themes, impact on Kern County – Kern County’s story is one worth telling. The state’s third-largest county by area was the fastest-growing economy in the U.S. until 2014 and ranked in the top 10 through 2015. It ranks No. 2 for oil, No. 2 for agriculture, is the country’s renewable energy capital and ranks fourth in industrial variety, according to Kern Economic Development Corporation President/CEO Richard Chapman. Unfortunately, not many have heard the tale and that is what the Kern County Economic Summit aims to address. Kern Economic Journal article

When are those raises coming for state workers? – State workers should count on about another month or so of waiting until they can start cashing checks for the bonuses and raises that they’re set to receive in the slate of labor agreements that Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration announced in December. Sacramento Bee article

Richard Gearhart: Economic impacts of new overtime law, total costs by 2022 – By 2022, when the minimum wage is $15 an hour, the overtime law will be set at $62,400 (up from its current value of $43,680 in 2017 for California, an increase of about $2,000 from the 2016 value). This means that large increases in the number of employees who can earn overtime can have a large impact in Kern County. The fact that the overtime pay will be coupled with annual minimum wage increases until 2022 means that businesses must continually adjust their rules annually or adjust based on the 2022 expectations immediately. Gearhart in Kern Economic Journal

Cheryl Scott: Let’s all work together to build a better workforce in Kern County – The executive director of the Kern Economic Development Foundation writes, “Many of us put regular effort into improving our own skills, but do you ever think about how you can help someone else be successful in their career endeavors? If we all try to help others, especially young people, we can make a meaningful difference in the quality of Kern County’s workforce.” Scott in Kern Economic Journal

Joel Fox: Business networking key to boosting Bay Area over LA — The “Beat LA” chant that occurs at many San Francisco sporting events featuring teams from the two regions of the state may reflect more than the athletic contest on the field. The San Francisco Bay Area’s economy has surged ahead of Los Angeles’s economic growth over the past 40 years. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Report: Google paid its autonomous car project employees so much they quit – Google’s autonomous car project, now operating as its own organization called Waymo, is funded by an incredible amount of money. So much of that money was distributed to staffers on the project, as it’s now being reported, that they no longer had an incentive to stay with the company. San Francisco Chronicle article

Loren Kaye: How to foster growth and increase opportunity in California – The president of the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, a think tank affiliated with CalChamber, writes, “Increasing opportunity and offering everyone a slice of the pie is within reach of state leaders, starting with these goals.” Kaye op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Investment shift costs CalPERS $900 million in potential gains – A shift away from stocks and private equity just before the presidential election has caused CalPERS to miss out on about $900 million in revenue since September. Sacramento Bee article

Dakota pipeline protestors persuade CalPERS to reconsider project – After hearing sometimes tearful testimony from environmentalists and Native Americans, the CalPERS Board of Directors indicated on Monday that it would consider divesting from the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project. Sacramento Bee article

LA County voters to decide on quarter-cent sales tax for homeless programs – Voters across Los Angeles County are being asked to approve the balance — a quarter-cent sales tax to support a broad canvas of strategies. They include services for those living in thousands of new housing units, rental subsidies for thousands more across the county, hundreds of new outreach workers and short-term interventions to help those in crisis keep their homes. LA Times article

Blue Apron chooses Fairfield for West Coast hub, about 1,000 jobs envisioned — New York-based Blue Apron, the New York-based fresh ingredients/meal delivery service, has chosen Fairfield as the site for a West Coast packaging and fulfillment hub, which the Solano County city says could ultimately create more than 1,000 jobs. Sacramento Bee article

Oil producers comply with OPEC deal to cut output, but for how long? — When OPEC and other major oil exporters agreed late last year to limit production as a way to bolster teetering prices, many saw it as a shaky deal by a spent force. That perception, though, has changed. And oil prices are up 20 percent since the agreement was reached. New York Times article


State water officials were warned of Oroville Dam weakness a dozen years ago – As California officials rushed Monday to stabilize conditions at Oroville Dam, the state’s top water official brushed aside questions about recommendations made a dozen years ago to upgrade the emergency spillway that nearly failed Sunday. Sacramento Bee articleSan Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times article

Feds order independent review of Oroville Dam spillway problems – The federal agency that issued the license for the troubled Oroville Dam on Monday ordered state officials to convene an independent panel of five experts to assess the damaged dam and issue recommendations. Sacramento Bee article‘Here are answers to your questions about the crisis at Oroville Dam’ in Sacramento BeeSan Francisco Chronicle article: ‘Courting disaster at Oroville Dam – key questions and answers’

As California waits on Trump, FEMA gets going around Oroville Dam – As California waited Monday night to see if President Donald Trump would grant Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for emergency funding for 10,000 evacuees who lived in the shadow of the Oroville Dam, FEMA began preparing for the worse. San Francisco Chronicle article

Central San Joaquin Valley dam operators say Oroville Dam issues not happening here – The damaged spillway at Oroville Dam that led to evacuations of downriver communities raises an unsettling question: Could a potentially catastrophic failure happen at other dams in California as lakes fill in a wet year?  The scenario that played out at the Northern California dam is unlikely to occur at Friant Dam near Fresno, said Duane Stroup, deputy area manager for the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Fresno Bee article

Despite wet year, use of Lake McClure spillways unlikely, Merced Irrigation District managers say – There’s hardly a chance that the structural concerns about the Oroville Dam should raise worry at the New Exchequer Dam on the Merced River, Merced Irrigation District officials said. Merced Sun-Star article

Oroville Dam evacuation underscores challenge of moving masses – As the evacuees clustered at fairgrounds, temporary shelters and area motels awaiting word on when the orders would be lifted, law enforcement officials defended their collective response to the situation unfolding at the dam.  Sacramento Bee article

Evacuations might not go home until Oroville Dam spillway is repaired – Helicopters dropped giant rock-filled sandbags into place Monday to shore up a California reservoir that had threatened to breach its banks and unleash a 30-foot wall of water, but officials said an evacuation order covering nearly 200,000 people would stay in place until they are sure it’s safe to return home. AP articleSacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Oroville vice mayor expresses ‘a degree of frustration’ with mass evacuation — A mass evacuation of communities below the compromised Oroville Dam left vice mayor Janet Goodson marooned in Red Bluff after evacuating Sunday night. She said she respects and understands the Butte County sheriff’s call for continued evacuations, and says that safety is the foremost issue, but she said she also feels frustrated. Sacramento Bee article

More flooding expected as Modesto-area waterways rise – Campgrounds and mobile home parks along the San Joaquin River remained underwater Monday as excessive runoff from rainfall continued to swell rivers in Stanislaus County and the surrounding region. Modesto Bee article

World Ag Expo at 50 — The World Ag Expo is turning 50 this year. Exhibitor Bob Giersbach has been to each and every one of them. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Kern coroner: Inmate’s death is a homicide — A 43-year-old inmate at Wasco State Prison died of strangulation and his death is a homicide, according to coroner’s officials. Jason Leon Morris was found unresponsive at 3:05 p.m. Feb. 7 in a two-person cell at the prison, a coroner’s release said. He was pronounced dead 20 minutes later.  Bakersfield Californian article

Activists protect one billion women and girls – One billion, it’s a big number. It would take a person 31 years to count to one billion, if they counted one number per second, starting now. According to the United Nations, one in three women will be beaten or raped, within their lifetime. That equals one billion women and girls, globally. One Billion Rising is a global event which seeks to end violence against women. Visalia Times-Delta article

Fresno County sheriff does not recommend charges against prominent attorney Tony Capozzi — The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office will not recommend smuggling charges be filed against Tony Capozzi, a prominent Fresno defense attorney who was under investigation after allegedly dropping off a box containing contraband to a client at the Fresno County Jail in October. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article


UC president emerges as champion for undocumented students – When Janet Napolitano was named president of the University of California over three years ago, her appointment provoked impassioned protests by students and others upset about her role as head of the Department of Homeland Security overseeing the deportation of more than 2.5 million undocumented immigrants. EdSource article

In Fresno, talk of school choice sparks concerns about segregation – With President Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in office, talk of school choice and charter schools in Fresno, California is re-igniting concerns about segregation within Fresno Unified. Fresno Bee article

Legislation would block guns from California schools, ending Kingsburg’s policy – Newly proposed legislation would ban guns entirely from California schools, putting an end to policies at a handful of campuses across the state that allow certain teachers to carry weapons – including Kingsburg Joint Union High School District.  Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield College will get majority of $502 million bond – Bakersfield College will receive the lion’s share of a $502.8 million bond measure voters passed in November, district trustees decided Monday. Kern Community College District’s flagship campus, which serves 20,000 students annually, will receive about $415 million for renovations, construction and modernization of facilities through Measure J. Porterville and Cerro Coso colleges will get almost $44 million each. Bakersfield Californian article

The business of law: Kern County’s new accredited law school — The business and legal community of Kern County is getting a new academic colleague this summer. Kern County College of Law is opening in July as an accredited branch of Monterey College of Law. As a nonprofit, part-time evening program accredited by the State Bar of California, the school serves both traditional college students and nontraditional working adults, joining San Luis Obispo College of Law and Monterey College of Law as an integral part of a three-campus law school program. Kern Business Journal article

Date set for Merced College’s State of the College address, first for new president – Merced College’s new president is set to discuss the school’s footing during his first State of the College address, later this spring. The fifth annual address and presentation of the President’s Medallion is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 28 in the college’s gymnasium, 3600 M St. Merced Sun-Star article

Trump’s gift to teachers: Students eager to discuss government – Donald Trump and his new administration have handed Bay Area teachers from all sides of the political spectrum an unexpected gift: a bounty of topics and a crop of students suddenly clamoring to talk about government and politics. San Jose Mercury News article

Dean named for planned osteopathic hospital in Clovis – California Health Sciences University has named a new chief academic officer and founding dean for its planned College of Osteopathic Medicine on its Clovis campus. Dr. Douglas Wood, who has served as vice president for health affairs and dean at the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine in Maine, began his new job on Monday. Fresno Bee article

Amber Carpenter: Love all: We no longer have to love in secrecy – The opinion page editor of The College, Fresno State’s student newspaper, writes that students on and off Fresno State’s campus want to feel welcomed and accepted, and it’s the responsibility of the student body and campus administrators to facilitate an environment that encourages acceptance and love. Carpenter op-ed in Fresno Bee


More pollution than cars? Gas-powered gardening equipment poses the next air quality threat – According to state air quality officials, those machines are some of the biggest polluters in California. In fact, by 2020, leaf blowers and other small gas engines will create more ozone pollution than all of the passenger cars in the state. KQED report

Santa Monica seeks to pass the nation’s most extensive earthquake retrofit plan — Santa Monica is poised to require safety improvements to as many as 2,000 earthquake-vulnerable buildings in what would be the nation’s most extensive seismic retrofitting effort. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Fresno nursing home patient dies of Legionnaires’ disease — Fresno County health officials said Monday a nursing home resident has died of Legionnaires’ disease. The patient’s identity, age and date of death were not released because of patient confidentiality laws, but health officials said they have been investigating Legionnaires’ disease at NorthPointe Health Centre on East Bullard Avenue since Jan. 23.  Fresno Bee article

Two teens work to raise $50,000 for cancer in honor of Central High School football coach — The hardship of a well-loved former Central High School football coach has inspired two teens to raise money and awareness for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as he battles Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Fresno Bee article


Fresno’s airport sees record number of travelers in 2016 – The number of airline passengers flying from and to Fresno Yosemite International Airport reached a record in 2016, topping 1.5 million travelers for the first time in the airport’s history. Fresno Bee article

Wrecking ball may swing toward Modesto’s Seventh Street Bridge — Modesto could throw its support behind a plan to demolish the Seventh Street Bridge and replace it with a modern span across the Tuolumne River as well as create a plaza to preserve the memory of the century-old landmark. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

 Fresno Bee – If Republicans can’t agree to encourage the working poor to save for retirement, what are their priorities? Voters should put that question to California’s House Republicans.

Modesto Bee – We had many favorite moments from our “Innovate, Educate, Celebrate” Bee Amplified event Wednesday at the Gallo Center for the Arts. But the best actually came after the show ended. That’s when we heard from those who attended, explaining how much it all meant.

Sacramento Bee –- As Oroville Dam threatens, people of goodwill step up.