February 23, 2018



Local/Regional Politics:

After threats, Fresno Unified urges parents to monitor social media

Fresno Bee

After an empty threat to two Fresno Unified high schools sparked fear last week following the Florida school shooting, superintendent Bob Nelson is calling on parents to monitor students’ social media use. A photo of a gun was posted to Snapchat and warned students not to attend class at Sunnyside and Edison high schools on Friday. Fresno police tracked the origin of the image out of state, and deemed the threat not credible, but nearly 2,000 students were marked absent at the two schools following the threat.

See also:

·       Students have a cause and $3.5M to spend on it The Fresno Bee

·       Porterville student was ‘just kidding’ when he threatened schoolVisalia Times-Delta

·       Threats Against Schools Increase Since Florida Shooting NPR


Local law enforcement officials doubt Trump will tell ICE agents to leave California

Fresno Bee

President Donald Trump’s comments that he is considering pulling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from California prompted similar reactions from law enforcement officials in Fresno – they don’t think he really means it.

See also:

·       Local law enforcement leaders respond to President Trump’s threats to pull ICE and border patrol agents out of California  ABC30

·       Now On Immigration’s Front Lines, Sheriffs Are Choosing To Back Or Snub ICE NPR

Devin Nunes Q&A on memo, tax reform, school shootings, Trump

The Fresno Bee

For more than a year, Rep. Devin Nunes’ name has been plastered across media reports and bandied about by politicians, activists, top law enforcement officials and the president of the United States. The Tulare Republican, who is chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, became one of the most visible members of Congress with his involvement in a House investigation into alleged Russian interference with the 2016 election. 

Woman to run against McCarthy for district seat

Bakersfield Californian

Congressman Kevin McCarthy has a new challenger for his 23rd District seat. Bakersfield resident Mary Helen Barro has announced that she will be running against McCarthy as a candidate for the congressional district in the November mid-term election. Barro will run as a Democrat. Barro has been a board member of many organizations over the past 30 years, including the League of Women Voters of Bakersfield, Democratic Women of Kern, Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Kern County Democratic Central Committee. 

Ex-Panoche Water District officials charged with misspending thousands in public funds

Los Banos Enterprise

Panoche Water District officials spent more than $100,000 in public money to buy themselves slot machines, car repairs, and kitchen appliances, funded landscaping on at their own homes, and covered interest-free loans, according to the California Department of Justice. Five people – including the district’s former general manager – have been charged with embezzlement and other allegations in connection with a year-long probe that also turned up alleged evidence of illegal dumping of toxic waste on the water district’s property, authorities said.

See also:

·       Five officials charged with misusing public funds, burying hazardous waste at Central Valley water district Los Angeles Times

·       California Water Agency Officials Charged With Burying Hazardous Waste And Corruption NPR

Leaders at odds over Visalia civic center

Visalia Times-Delta

In September, Visalia City Council members opened the new Visalia Emergency Communication Center located in east downtown Visalia. The building, which serves as a home to Visalia fire administration, dispatch and traffic management, is surrounded by city-owned undeveloped land. Now, council members are in the beginning stages of what to do with the area — and they have different ideas as to what that looks like. 

Lawsuit, report allege Kern County’s mistreatment of disabled youth

Bakersfield Californian

A lawsuit was filed against Kern County on Wednesday by two disability rights groups claiming that youth in the county’s correctional facilities were discriminated against. Disability Rights California and Disability Rights Advocates assert that youths with mental and behavioral disabilities in Juvenile Hall and other county facilities were subjected to restraints, solitary confinement of up to 23 hours a day and pepper spray for non-violent acts more than other youths in 2017. 

A testy exchange over Swenson

Stockton Record

When the controversy over Swenson Park Golf Course flared up, the Greater Stockton Chamber fired off a letter to the mayor saying it opposed Swenson’s closure. Now the Chamber is holding its annual golf tournament — at Elkhorn Golf Club. Mayor Michael Tubbs thinks the Chamber lipped out (listen to me, acting as if I know golf). This week, Tubbs wrote the Chamber that he was “dismayed.”

FAX’s Q system gets its official launch

The Business Journal

Around 100 people attended the official launch of the “Q” line of Fresno Area Express in Downtown Fresno Thursday morning, capping a year’s long effort to launch business rapid transit in town. The initial route for the “Q” system —standing for “quick” and “quality” — spans 15.7 miles on Blackstone Avenue, from North Fresno Street to downtown, then out to Ventura Avenue/Kings Canyon Road to Clovis Avenue.

PG&E scammers hit Mountain Area

Sierra Star

On Thursday, Feb. 22, an Ahwahnee resident, Brenda Eppler, notified the Sierra Star that she had been contacted by a PG& E scammer. After receiving a call from what appeared to be a PG&E number on her caller ID she was told her account was past due and her power would be shut off.

No-kill animal shelter expected to open by end of summer

Sierra Star

As bad as the Mountain Area needs rain, the mild weather we have been experiencing this winter has provided at least one plus – construction of the Eastern Madera County SPCA no-kill animal shelter in Ahwahnee is ahead of schedule and could be open by the end of summer. 

State Politics:

California is losing low-income folks but gaining wealthy ones, report says

The San Diego Union-Tribune

Every year, the face of California changes. A new report lets us know just how much. Wealthier people and those from states like New York and Illinois are moving in by the droves to California while young people with less money are bailing out to states such as Texas, Arizona and Nevada, a report from the state’sLegislative Analyst’s Office revealed Wednesday. The underlying factors of these migration patterns are not spelled out in the report, but the data analyzed by the state’s fiscal and policy adviser office offers a peek at some interesting trends.

California Democrats to chart 2018 course amid party tension

Fresno Bee

California Democrats, united in their opposition to President Donald Trump, are gathering to chart a path for 2018 success while seeking to shore up fissures over the party’s direction that were exposed during the 2016 election. The party’s biggest names are among 3,400 activists meeting for three days in San Diego for an annual convention that’s part pep rally and part political spectacle as candidates fight for the party’s endorsement. It follows a postelection year that began with a blistering battle over the party’s leadership and continued with bitter intra-party fights over single-payer health care, environmental policy and, now, sexual harassment.

See also:

·       California Democrats to decide endorsements and hear from potential presidential candidates at annual convention Los Angeles Times

·       Hope, Fear of Division as California Democrats Prepare for Convention The California Report – KQED News

·       Democrats Head Into Convention With Sexual Harassment Allegations Looming KQED

·       Democratic candidates for California governor in harmony at debate on eve of state party convention Los Angeles Times

·       Feinstein faces competitive vote for party endorsement at Democratic convention this weekend San Jose Mercury – News

·       California Democrats meet with hopes Trump can unite themMerced Sun-Star

Hey California Democrats, how well do you know your party?CALmatters

·       Pin the tail on the donkey: Democrats vie for party endorsement…but why? CALmatters

California Today: Health Care Proves Divisive Among Democrats

New York Times

One of the big issues for Democrats this year is health care. But the race to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown is showing what a divisive issue that is as Democrats chart the party’s future. It’s not just about Obamacare versus Trumpcare.

‘We won’t be bullied’: California Democrats react to Trump’s immigration threats

Los Angeles Times

“This administration has continually put a target on California’s back and we won’t be bullied,” Sen. Kamala Harris said in a statement. “Instead of targeting immigrant communities, this administration should focus their energy and resources on violent criminals and transnational gangs.”

Gavin Newsom wasn’t always such a liberal crusader

Sacramento Bee

When he took his seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, Gavin Newsomwasn’t exactly the left-leaning stalwart who would emerge two decades later as the front-runner for California governor.

New attack ad, website launched against Gavin Newsom in California governor’s race

Los Angeles Times

he Asian American Small Business PAC launched a broadside attack against Gavin Newsom’s campaign for governor with a website and digital ad accusing him of having inappropriate relationships and a history of violating the “public trust.” The ad tries to draw a parallel between Newsom’s past and the “epidemic of sexual misconduct” in the White House and Sacramento. 

California lawmakers struggle with #MeToo as senator resigns

Fresno Bee

Critics cite a state senator’s dramatic resignation in highlighting the work to be done to change the culture of sexual misconduct in the California Legislature. Sen. Tony Mendoza succumbed to months of mounting tension over sexual misconduct allegations Thursday, resigning his position as he was about to face a potential vote on his expulsion.

See also:     

·       California senator resigns before receiving his punishment over sexual misconduct findings The Mercury News

·       California Sen. Tony Mendoza abruptly resigns, was facing expulsion after sexual harassment investigation Los Angeles Times

New Environmental Justice Bureau aims to aggressively target environmental health

The Bakersfield Californian

Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Thursday announced plans to establish the Environmental Justice Bureau which will help those in communities that bear the burden of environmental pollution. Many of these communities also are low-income and communities of color that suffer the consequences of pollution from industrial development.

See also:     

·       California AG launches environmental justice unit focused on poorer communities San Francisco Chronicle

Federal Politics:

Trump mulls pulling immigration agents from California

The Fresno Bee

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he may pull the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency out of California, an idea so unlikely that some of his staunchest critics dismissed it as an empty taunt against the state over immigration policies. Withdrawing ICE, partially or completely, runs counter to Trump’s record of dramatically increasing deportation arrests and pledging to beef up the agency with an additional 10,000 employees.

See also:     

·       California a ‘crime nest’ without ICE agents, Trump musesSacramento Bee

·       Trump accuses California police of being soft on street gangs, and cops fire back Los Angeles Times

·       Latest Trump tirade is threat to pull immigration officials out of California SFGate

·       Trump says he may pull immigration enforcement from CaliforniaOCRegister

·       Trump casually threatens to pull ICE officers out of California to teach the state a lesson Washington Post

·       Trump and Sacramento’s sheriff are wrong about giving guns to teachers. Here’s why

·       Sacramento Bee

Opinion: In Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court needs to end compulsory union dues


On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Janus v. AFSCME, an Illinois case challenging compulsory union dues. Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee, is challenging the system used in 23 states that requires employees who have resigned from their union to continue paying agency fees, amounting to about 75 percent of normal union dues.

The Trump administration takes its first big step toward stricter work requirements for food stamps

Washington Post

The Trump administration is taking a step toward tightening work requirements in the food stamp program, with a focus on high-unemployment areas that have been exempted from those rules since the recession.

Why is the Senate broken?


Despite promises to “let a thousand flowers bloom,” last week the Senate was anything but a fruitful garden. After two days of fits-and-starts efforts to begin floor debate, senators cast four back-to-back votes on various immigration proposals. The process was structured such that all four would need at least 60 votes to pass. None cleared that threshold, leaving tens of thousands of DACA recipients vulnerable to deportation in the months to come. 


Russian trolls ‘rile’ Americans on gun violence

Modesto Bee

An organization that monitors Russian trolling has spotted a peculiar similarity between certain types of social media postings that went up immediately after the Oct. 1 Las Vegas festival shootings and again after last week’s shootings at a school in Parkland, Fla. The pattern: A day after the tragedy, the trolls tweet on all sides of the gun control debate. A day later, they push conspiracy theories.

See also:     

·       Don’t ignore the sliming of Douglas High students Modesto Bee

·       Tom Steyer, gun safety groups plan voter registration drive for high school students Politico

·       Whiting: Students plan series of protests, call gun control a battle for survival Los Angeles Daily News

·       Gun-Control Debate Could Break America National Review

·       Armed Teachers: Could They Prevent School Shootings? National Review

·       Training Trump’s army of gun-toting teachers wouldn’t be simple or cheap San Francisco Chronicle

·       Florida Gov. Rick Scott made it illegal for doctors to talk to patients about guns, TV ad says PolitiFact Florida

The First Step to Hack-Proofing Our Elections


Top security and intelligence officials warned on Tuesday that Russia would try to interfere in the 2018 elections again, just as it did in 2016. “We need to inform the American public that this is real, that this is not going to be happening,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee. They didn’t specify how we were going to stop it, but we know there is one place we know we can start: upgrading the ramshackle, out-of-date voting equipment that is more vulnerable to hacking than newer machines.         

Willie Brown on Power at the Capitol, the Mayoral Election, and His Newspaper Column


Former California Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown talks with Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos about the levers of power in Sacramento (5:40), growing up in Texas (12:15), his weekly newspaper column (23:25), and the Mayor’s race (26:00). 

California has strict rules for political robocalls — and they’re routinely ignored

Los Angeles Times

A federal district court judge ruled the other day that it’s constitutional for Montana to ban political robocalls, even though political consultants who had sued the state claimed their right to free speech had been violated. U.S. District Court Senior Judge Charles Lovell said Montana’s law limiting political robocalls “still leaves ample means of communication for individuals and organizations.” He also said the law prevents “the annoyance and harassment of Montanans in their households.” That got me thinking, “Wow, why doesn’t California have a cool law like that?” So I looked into it. And you know what? We do.



Sunday, February 25, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 – Maddy Report: Is California Prepared for the Next Emergency? – Guest: Christina Curry, Cal OES Deputy Director of Planning, Preparedness and Prevention. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director, Mark Keppler.


Sunday, January 25, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580AM/105.9FM (KMJ) –Maddy Report: “Natural Disasters & Emergencies: Is the Valley Prepared?” – Guests: Georgianna Armstrong, Kern County Emergency Services; Andrew Lockman, Tulare County Emergency Services; David Pomaville and Ken Austin, Fresno County Emergency Services; Tracie Riggs, Tuolumne County Emergency Services. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director, Mark Keppler.


Sunday, February 25, at 7:30 a.m. on UniMas 61 (KTTF) – Informe Maddy: Voters Rights  Guest: Sec. of State Alex Padilla and Alexei Koseff, Sacramento Bee reporter. Host: Maddy Institute Program Coordinator, Maria Jeans.

Support the Maddy Daily HERE.

Thank you!


Topics in More Detail…


Farmworker employer faces stiff penalty over squalid housing

Fresno Bee

A Central Coast farm labor contractor will pay $168,082 in penalties for housing workers in “inhumane” conditions, U.S. Department of Labor officials said Thursday. Investigators with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that Future Ag Management Inc. of Sole-dad was providing housing for 22 workers with only one shower and sink, a restroom that was infested with insects, and living conditions that were overcrowded.

Farmers, ranchers: It’s time to make sure you count

Merced Sun-Star

There’s still time. To ensure an accurate representation of the agriculture industry in this country, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service has extended its 2017 Census of Agriculture response deadline through spring, and the Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural is calling on all farmers and ranchers to participate.

Freeze leaves California’s almond growers fearing ‘significant’ damage


A cold snap in the heart of California’s agriculture industry could be devastating to the almond crop and ultimately lead to higher prices. It follows three-straight nights of bitter-cold temperatures this week in the San Joaquin Valley — the hub of almond production — where temperatures sank to the low-20s overnight starting Tuesday. Almonds are in full bloom and vulnerable to frost damage that could wipe out future nuts on the trees.


For stories on ”mass shootings,” See: “Top Stories – Local, State, Federal and Other Politics,” above


Keep violent sex offenders locked up

Sacramento Bee

Two years ago, California voters were promised that violent sex offenders wouldn’t be released from prison early if they passed Proposition 57, the sweeping ballot initiative allowing the early release of inmates convicted of non-serious and non-violent crimes. But this month, a Superior Court judge tentatively ruled that sex offenders must be considered for early release under Prop. 57.

Why It Took Nearly Four Months For California’s Megan’s Law List To Include An Out-Of-State Sex Offender

Capital Public Radio News

Paroled sex offender Christopher Edward Lawyer moved from Colorado to his aunt’s Sacramento County home four months ago. But the convicted rapist, who was classified as a “sexually violent predator” by that state, didn’t end up on California’s Megan’s Law website until this past weekend. Neighbors are asking why it took so long. 

Public Safety:

California gun laws not as tough as people think

The Mercury News

We have been brainwashed into believing that California has the toughest gun laws. Not true. If Nikolas Cruz, the Florida shooter, lived in California he could do exactly the same here as he did in Florida: pass a firearms safety test, pass a background check and legally buy an AR-15 assault weapon even though it was banned here in 1989.

After California torture arrests, calls to child abuse hotline soar

The Mercury News

Calls to the Riverside County Child Protective Services child abuse hotline surged by more than 50 percent in the month since Perris residents David and Louise Turpin were arrested Jan. 14 on suspicion of torturing their children, CPS officials said. The office logged 3,752 calls reporting suspected abuse from Dec. 14, 2017, to Jan. 13, 2018; followed by 5,761 calls from Jan. 14 to Feb. 13 — an increase of 53.5 percent. The motivation was unclear.




For stories on ”mass school shootings,” See: “Top Stories – Local, State, Federal and Other Politics,” above 


When state’s education policies go bad, our children pay

Modesto Bee

In 2012, when Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1246 cementing Common Core as the K-12 standard in California. In 2013, the Governor signed the bill enacting theLocal Control Funding Formula. The State Board of Education and the California Department of Education have struggled for seven years to convince the public there is a plan to lift student achievement and close testing gaps. Results have been far from stellar.

Walker: Education policies failing our children

The Modesto Bee

In 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1246 cementing Common Core as the K-12 standard in California. In 2013, the Governor signed the bill enactingthe Local Control Funding Formula. The State Board of Education and the California Department of Education have struggled for seven years to convince the public there is a plan to lift student achievement and close testing gaps. Results have been far from stellar.

Walters: Is California Gov. Jerry Brown’s school finance reform paying off?

The Mercury News

As he introduced his final state budget in January, Gov. Jerry Brown faced sharp questions from reporters about the effectiveness of his landmark overhaul of public school finance. His Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which went into effect five years ago, provides more money to school districts with large numbers of poor and/or “English learner” students on the assumption that it will close the much-lamented “achievement gap” in learning.

California will continue to lag behind other states in providing enough child care slots and diverse preschool options for all its nearly 2.5 million children under the age of 5 until it develops a more unified system that provides affordable care and makes it easier for families to enroll. 

Could free, in-school SAT option level the playing field?


The SAT may be an important hurdle in the college admissions process, but until recently it was one that many students in the Long Beach Unified School District weren’t clearing. Fewer than half of 11th graders in the working-class district were even attempting the test. Registration fees, at $60 for the full test including essay, posed a challenge for some families in a district where more than two thirds of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. Other students just didn’t see themselves as college material.

Higher Ed:

Man charged for alleged threat to attack California college

Merced Sun-Star

A man who allegedly made Facebook threats to attack a Southern California community college has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder after authorities found an AR-15 in his home — the same kind of rifle that was used in the Florida school shooting.

Coast district responds to governor’s plan for a fully online community college by saying it’s already a leader in online education

Los Angeles Times

Following Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal last month for California to launch a fully online community college geared toward working adults, Coast Community College District trustees discussed the matter during a meeting Wednesday, saying they’re already leaders in online education.

Elevate CA: Four ways California can build more grads ready for college and a career

California Economy, California Economic Summit

The California economy is humming. Unemployment is at historic lows, even in many parts of the state often left behind in good times. But even this silver lining has a cloud. Parts of the Bay Area and Southern California are beyond full employment, which means some California regions are creating more jobs than the labor force can support.



New Environmental Justice Bureau aims to aggressively target environmental health

Bakersfield Californian

Attorney General Xavier Becerra on Thursday announced plans to establish the Environmental Justice Bureau which will help those in communities that bear the burden of environmental pollution. Many of these communities also are low-income and communities of color that suffer the consequences of pollution from industrial development. The Environmental Justice Bureau will initially consist of four environmental lawyers, but with goals of bolstering that in order to achieve its goals. The attorneys have not yet been hired and it is uncertain at this time when the new bureau will begin. The Environmental Justice Bureau’s main, overarching goal will be to diminish and eliminate environmental pollution.

Invasive swamp rodent has California scrambling to come up with a battle plan

Sacramento Bee

About the size of a beagle, they can quickly turn a lush green marsh to a wasteland. They use their long orange teeth to gnaw through vegetation and reach the succulent bits they crave. Females can have litters of a dozen or more and become pregnant within 48 hours after giving birth, their fertility adding to the speed with which this South American rodent can fan across a landscape, burrowing into levees and and destroying wetlands along the way.

With sea level rise, a major California ecosystem faces extinction if we don’t act

Sacramento Bee

It is increasingly clear that climate change will touch every corner of California. For the state’s coastal marshes – a major ecosystem from San Diego to Humboldt counties – the toll may be complete annihilation.

On Climate Change, Local Governments Tell Different Stories in the Courtroom and on Wall Street

Fox and Hounds Daily

By 2050, because of climate change, Oakland officials insist that the city faces dealing with “100-year” type floods every two years—or maybe it won’t have those floods. Apparently, that forecast all depends on who city officials are talking to–whether you are an energy company being sued by the City of Oakland demanding money because of the dangers climate change supposedly bring or you are an investor interested in buying an Oakland municipal bond. In the latter case, Oakland officials attest that the city is unable to predict the impact of climate change or flooding.


Cold weather strains local gas supply

89.3 KPCC

As overnight temperatures drop and demand for natural gas for home heating rises, Southern California Gas Company is stretching its supply this week by reducing the fuel it provides to local power-generating utilities. 

Electric vehicles’ future relies on cobalt. It’s often mined by children and is soaring in price

Los Angeles Times

The road to an imminent electric vehicle future has hit a speed bump — one made of cobalt. An essential ingredient in lithium-ion batteries that power millions of smartphones as well as plug-in electric cars, cobalt is in heavy demand.



Universal health coverage plan is unveiled

Fresno Bee

A leading liberal policy group is raising the ante in the health care debate with a new plan that builds on Medicare to guarantee coverage for all. Called “Medicare Extra for All,” the proposal Thursday from the Center for American Progress, or CAP, gives politically energized Democrats more options to fulfill a long-sought goal. In a nod to political pragmatism, the plan would preserve roles for employer coverage and for the health insurance industry. Employers and individuals would have a choice of joining Medicare Extra, but it would not be required. 

Human Services:

Complaints About Nursing Home Evictions Rise, and Regulators Take Note

The New York Times

Six weeks after Deborah Zwaschka-Blansfield had the lower half of her left leg amputated, she received some news from the nursing home where she was recovering: Her insurance would no longer pay, and it was time to move on. The home wanted to release her to a homeless shelter or pay for a week in a motel.“That is not safe for me,” said Ms. Zwaschka-Blansfield, 59, who cannot walk and had hoped to stay in the home, north of Sacramento, until she could do more things for herself — like getting up if she fell. 


State Bar seizes Stockton immigration law practice

Stockton Record

An unlicensed Stockton immigration law practice that operated for 14 years has been taken over by the State Bar of California, according to a news release from the organization. The practice, at 343 E. Main St., was operated by Yehlen “Mary” Dorothea Brooks from 2003 to 2017. Late last year, Brooks pleaded guilty to 15 felony counts of grand theft for defrauding immigrant clients seeking citizenship, according to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.


Land Use:

Minorities are the demographic engine of millennial urban growth


Much has been written about millennials’ attraction to cities, adding to their social and economic vitality, and, in many cases, their revitalization. It should also be noticed that, as part of this, millennials have contributed substantially to the race and ethnic diversity of cities. As underscored in my report, “The millennial generation: A demographic bridge to America’s diverse future,” at 44 percent minority, millennials are the most diverse adult generation in American history.


Palo Alto: City officials oppose bill that allows tall, dense housing

The Mercury News

Palo Alto officials say a pending state bill would strip their control of land uses in the city and possibly result in exceptionally tall housing developments along high-transit areas.

Sky-high rents and home prices are making it hard for Southern California businesses to attract workers

Los Angeles Times

Ace Clearwater Enterprises needs to hire four welders. The South Bay aerospace company could also use three more machinists, as well as four specialists who use 7-ton drop hammers to form metal parts for fighter jets. But filling those positions is tough. Many young Californians are going to college, not into manufacturing. Other potential hires have backed out because they live in the more affordable outskirts of the Southland and have no appetite for a grueling commute. 

California housing crisis podcast: What mermaids have to do with affordable housing

Los Angeles Times

Since 2011, California lawmakers have lamented the demise of redevelopment, a state urban renewal program that provided billions of dollars for low-income housing development. There’s a new proposal in the Legislature now to bring a version of it back.

Orange County Struggles to Find Motels to House Riverbed Homeless


Orange County has taken on the huge physical task this month of moving hundreds of homeless people from a tent city along the Santa Ana River, but one of the most challenging aspects is finding the motel rooms to house them, as required under a court order. 


For stories on “tax reform” See: “Top Stories – Federal Politics,” above

Retirement Debt: What’s the problem and how does it affect you?


Across California, the cost of retirement benefits for public employees remains untamed. The total cost to state and local governments as well as schools and colleges has more than tripled since 2003—and projections indicate the burden in coming years will continue to grow. Payments for public employee pensions and retiree health care benefits are putting so much pressure on government budgets that many are having to choose between service cuts and raising taxes. Gov. Jerry Brown has called the issue a “moral obligation” and the association of California cities now predicts that the growth will be “unsustainable.”


FAX’s Q system gets its official launch

The Business Journal

Around 100 people attended the official launch of the “Q” line of Fresno Area Express in Downtown Fresno Thursday morning, capping a year’s long effort to launch business rapid transit in town. The initial route for the “Q” system —standing for “quick” and “quality” — spans 15.7 miles on Blackstone Avenue, from North Fresno Street to downtown, then out to Ventura Avenue/Kings Canyon Road to Clovis Avenue.

Four-hour bus ride to get to work? Modesto route changes strand seniors, disabled

Modesto Bee

A change in bus service is bound to create a hardship for some riders. Modesto’s decision, effective Feb. 1, to stop express bus service to Empire has stranded the elderly and adults with disabilities, according to people who work with those residents. “We have no transportation,” said Empire resident Brandon Day, 26, who needs public transit to get to work and to visit friends.

Losing my children to California’s overcrowded train

The Bakersfield Californian

If California’s train deniers are right — that no one ever rides trains here, that Californians prefer to drive or fly, and that high-speed rail is a boondoggle that won’t attract riders — then how do you explain my wife’s public humiliation? Recently, our family was on Amtrak from San Diego to L.A., when an announcement came over the sound system: “Mrs. Mathews, we have two of your children here in the café car. Mrs. Mathews, you should never let your children walk unaccompanied on an Amtrak train.” 

Expired license plate tags cost California millions

The Mercury News

Driving down Warm Springs Boulevard in Fremont the other day, I noticed that about 50 percent of the vehicles had expired registration tags. Not recently expired but expired for more than a year. … Who can we report these people this to? It’s not right that I pay my registration on time while many others don’t.

Don’t like your DMV photo? You may soon have a new option

Sacramento Bee

One of the ugliest realities California drivers face is not on the roads, it’s on their license – their DMV photo. Now, a state legislator is offering drivers a second shot at getting that photo just right.

LA’s 20th century dream of building freeways refuses, even now, to die

Los Angeles Times

If no one in 2018 would argue, as a young writer named David Brodsly did in 1981, that the “L.A. freeway is the cathedral of its time and place”…

California vehicle sales exceed 2 million for third straight year

San Diego Union-Tribune

For the third straight year, sales for new cars and trucks in California exceeded 2 million and the forecast for 2018 anticipates the number to top 2 million again — but just barely, as the rate of growth is slowing.

Accountability, Transparency Key to SB 1 Funding


Passed and signed into law last year, SB 1 is starting to generate revenue which will reach more than $5 billion a year at full implementation. The revenue is allocated to state and local governments to fix and make safety improvements to highways and local streets and roads, repair or replace aging bridges, increase active modes of transportation, improve and expand transit, and reduce congestion. Accountability is one of the key components of SB 1. In fact, SB 1 created a new position of Inspector General at Caltrans. In this edition of the County Voice, we asked the first person to hold that title, Eraina Ortega, some questions about her job and the role she’ll play to make sure the revenue from SB 1 is spent appropriately. 

Dockless (Bike) Disruption: Maximizing Opportunities Through Smart Regulations


As communities seek to decrease car use and promote alternative forms of transportation — like biking — cities have launched pilot projects around “dockless” bikeshare programs. Dockless bikeshare, offered by companies likeLimeBikeOfo and Jump, is an example of an exciting innovation with great potential. Unfortunately, as with many emerging innovations, the lack of clear regulations is leading to opposition from citizens and local governments, and costly lawsuits, which is detracting from the sustainable and increased mobility opportunities that dockless bikeshare offers.


Water agency told to speed up reservoirs

Fresno Bee

With California facing another potential drought, legislators demanded Wednesday that a state agency release $2.7 billion in bond funding for dams, reservoirs and other water storage projects. Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle, pulling a child’s red wagon, arrived at a meeting of the California Water Commission with a stack of petitions with 4,000 signatures supporting the two largest reservoir projects seeking bond money: Sites Reservoir north of Sacramento and Temperance Flat in the San Joaquin Valley. “Farmers like myself are concerned about the shortage of water – we’re seeing another drought cycle,” he told the commission.

See also:

·       Fox: Fulfill the Promise of the Water Bond  Fox & Hounds

California’s Recurring Nightmare: Nearly Half the State is Back in Drought


After an all-too-brief reprieve, the Golden State is once again starting to brown up — at least on government drought maps. The U.S. Drought Monitor now has nearly 48 percent of the state categorized as being in at least “moderate drought.” More than 91 percent of the state is listed as at least “abnormally dry,” the precursor stage to drought.

See also:

·       Alarming dry conditions in California setting new records Los Angeles Times

·       Friant-Kern users to get 30% water allocation Porterville Recorder

·       Westlands receives only 20 percent water allocation Hanford Sentinel

·       Documentary warns water shortage in SJV a matter of national security The Bakersfield Californian

Ex-Panoche Water District officials charged with misspending thousands in public funds

Los Banos Enterprise

Panoche Water District officials spent more than $100,000 in public money to buy themselves slot machines, car repairs, and kitchen appliances, funded landscaping on at their own homes, and covered interest-free loans, according to the California Department of Justice. Five people – including the district’s former general manager – have been charged with embezzlement and other allegations in connection with a year-long probe that also turned up alleged evidence of illegal dumping of toxic waste on the water district’s property, authorities said.

Oroville Dam: DWR still expects feds to pay bulk of spillway repair costs

The Mercury News

The state Department of Water Resources is still expecting the federal government to pay the bulk of the cost of repairing the Lake Oroville spillways. The estimated cost is up to $870 million, and north state congressmen had indicated the Federal Emergency Management Agency had some doubts whether it could reimburse costs for a redesigned structure.

Why We Need Working Floodplains

Public Policy Institute of California

Floodplains are hard-working landscapes when they’re allowed to “act naturally.” But their flood-taming, habitat-feeding abilities are compromised when they’re paved over or constricted by levees. We talked with Josh Viers, a watershed scientist at UC Merced and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network, about restoring floodplains.

Should the Environment Get Its Own Right to Water, A New Era for Western Water, and Five Don’t-Miss Water Reads

Water Education Foundation

Does California need to revamp the way in which water is dedicated to the environment to better protect fish and ecosystems? One recent proposal would set aside water for the environment in a way that’s akin to, and have the same stature as, other water rights. But in the hypersensitive world of California water, where differences over who gets what can result in epic legislative and legal battles, the idea sparks fear, uncertainty and promise. 


Timelapse: See nature unveil a dusting of snow on Yosemite’s Half Dome

Sierra Star

Yosemite National Park, the Sierra foothills and the Kern County mountains received a dusting of snow Thursday, the National Weather Service reported. Temperatures in Yosemite were expected to fall to around 28 degrees by 4p.m, according to the National Weather Service. Total daytime snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches are possible in Yosemite.


Could teenagers be America’s last, best hope for California-style gun control?

Sacramento Bee

Less than a week after Nikolas Cruz stormed his old Florida high school with an AR-15 assault rifle, Sonjhia Lowery found herself in the entryway of C.K. McClatchy High School listening to her daughter’s classmates discuss how to survive a mass shooting. “Kids,” she fumed to The Bee, “shouldn’t have to come to school and have those kind of conversations.”

Gun proposal doesn’t add up

San Francisco Chronicle

Why is the answer to school shootings always addition and not subtraction? President Trump’s suggestion to arm teachers does not bring us to the real question, much less the answer: What do we do to ensure our children’s safety?

Facebook, Twitter are part of the problem

Modesto Bee

Except for inside the alternate universe that exists in the Oval Office, there can no longer be any doubt. Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election and hijacked aspects of Facebook and Twitter to do it. And if the Silicon Valley social media giants don’t step up, it’s going to happen again in 2018 and 2020.

Make California farmers do their part to conserve water

Mercury News

The Bay Area should embrace the state’s call Tuesday to make permanent water-wasting rules that were in effect during the last drought. It’s the responsible thing for urban water users to do when the Sierra Nevada snowpack stands at only 20 percent of normal. But farmers should be required to do their part, too.

Cleaner trucks are good. A higher sales tax to pay for private companies to get them isn’t.

Los Angeles Times

California voters (and the Times Editorial Board) have supported a variety of tax hikes and bond measures in recent years because the new revenue was essential for building vital public infrastructure, from schools to subways to homeless housing. Now Southern California air quality regulators are considering putting a quarter-cent sales tax increase on the 2020 ballot to raise an estimated $700 million a year, much of which would be used to pay truckers and goods movement companies to switch their dirty diesel big-rigs to low-pollution models.