Bad air is nothing new for the Central Valley, but right now it is extremely bad. The haze is made up of tiny particles, at levels five to six times higher than the level considered dangerous to health. It looks like fog but the stuff in the air over the Central Valley is concentrated particulate air pollution, and it is making people sick.
Just as Supervisors extended the local emergency proclamation of tree mortality, state officials announced there are 129 million dead trees in California because of drought and bark beetles. The dead trees are a hazard to residents and infrastructure, mainly in the central and southern Sierra Nevada.
An irony of Michael Tubbs’ first year as mayor came in mid-December. Forbes magazine honored him as one of America’s “30 Under 30” leaders. And right around then the number of Stockton’s homicides surpassed the 2016 number. Homicides, non-fatal shootings and aggravated assaults all got worse, not better.
Before voters head to the polls in the November 2018 general election, the voters in Hanford’s District D will vote in a special election to decide if they want to recall Hanford City Council incumbent Francisco Ramirez. In August 2017, a group of Hanford residents gathered enough petition signatures from registered voters in Ramirez’s district to warrant holding a recall election
The interim city manager in Atwater takes over Wednesday despite the mayor’s refusal this week to sign the contract. Mayor Jim Price told the Merced Sun-Star he would not sign the contract with Art de Werk, who was given the interim job with a split 3-2 vote on Dec. 11.
Much of the rest of the state may be on the edge of a cultural revolution now that recreational cannabis is legal in California. But in red-meat Kern County — and several other counties in California — there’s still plenty of resistance to these changes. What has changed? And what hasn’t changed here in the southern valley?
Happy New Year, and welcome to 2018! This week represents a tabula rasa. A blank slate. No matter the events or outcomes of the prior year, each Jan. 1 affords all of us opportunity to start with a fresh page. It’s a built-in, annual mental marker that encourages us to both reflect and cast vision for the coming 365 days.
With two competitive top-of-the-ticket races and a national spotlight on the state’s congressional districts — to say nothing about the Legislature’s busy agenda coupled with a growing sexual harassment scandal in the state Capitol — 2018 will be a blockbuster year for California politics.
There will be an increased focus on the governor’s race as the year moves on but for all of 2018 Jerry Brown will be governor and he means to make his presence felt. Beyond the expected gubernatorial duties of presenting a budget and signing or vetoing bills, Brown is sure to use the governor’s bully pulpit to continue his crusade on climate change and shoring up the high-speed rail before he leaves office.
Who is the most powerful governor in California history? The next one. Our state’s governorship has grown so great in reach and power that it now constitutes a second American presidency. California governors sign international treaties and agreements. They head a state government that effectively operates as a fourth branch of American government — employing regulations, lawsuits and the size of the California market to check the president, Congress and even the courts.
California lawmakers will grapple with a growing sexual misconduct scandal when they return to Sacramento on Wednesday for the 2018 legislative year that will bring debates about boosting protections for victims and whistleblowers and improving the Legislature’s policing of itself.
Alarmed by a survey indicating sexual harassment of hotel housekeepers is widespread, a California state lawmaker on Tuesday proposed requiring employers to provide “panic button” devices to their employees so they can summon help if abused by a guest.
Both houses of the California Legislature will convene Wednesday afternoon for the formal beginning of an eight-month session to craft a state budget and consider hundreds of proposed laws. And they will do so with three fewer lawmakers, two having resigned after being accused of sexual harassment.
Amid battles with President Trump over his calls to shut down the nation’s borders and increase deportations, California lawmakers focused this last legislative sessionon keeping personal data collected by state and local agencies away from the federal government.
Phil Trounstine knows California politics. After a 20-year journalism career, Trounstine, the former politics editor for the San Jose Mercury News, worked as communications director for Gov. Gray Davis. He later founded a research institute at San Jose State University, and co-authored in-depth studies of power structures within major cities.
In November, 2016, California voters approved an initiative (Proposition 64) legalizing recreational uses of marijuana, with legal sales beginning on Monday, Jan. 1. But with all major legal changes, the rules are somewhat unclear as a mish-mash of state and local regulations work their way through the system. It will take some time before the parameters of the new marijuana regimen are widely understood in California – one of seven states (plus the District of Columbia) that now allows its widespread sale and purchase.
As the second session of the 115th Congress kicks off Wednesday, lawmakers are confronted with a daunting January to-do list full of issues they punted on in 2017.Typically, January is a slow legislative month leading up to the party caucuses’ annual retreats, where lawmakers formally develop an agenda for the year.
California Democrats are toying with a brash scheme to skirt a new federal cap on state and local tax deductions: Instead of paying taxes to the Golden State, Californians would be allowed to donate the money to the state’s coffers — and deduct the entire sum from their federal taxes.
The Trump administration, teeing up a fight with California regulators, is trying to pump more water through the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state despite fresh evidence of the estuary’s shrinking fish population.
Fact-checkers found President Trump’s recent interview in The New York Times chock-full of false and misleading statements. Trump rattled off falsehoods published in the Dec. 28, 2017 article on everything from how many social media followers he has to what’s known about possible collusion between Russia and his presidential campaign.
The Constitution turns 231 years old in 2018 and yet my prediction is that it will be at the center of the most important stories to come out of Washington in the coming year, stories that will shape the future of our government for years and potentially even decades to come. Here are three to look for that could have enormous consequences.
Our horrific fires this past winter inspired yet another wave of California-is-over dispatches, the worst by the New York Times, which declared that the days when we served as the “epitome of middle-class America on the move … are long gone.” As usual, the Gray Lady is wrong about the Best Coast.
Fake road signs put up near California’s borders early this week mocked a new law intended to shield undocumented immigrants from deportation. A paper covering placed over a San Bernardino County sign greeted Interstate 15 travelers with “Felons, Illegals and [MS-13] Welcome! Democrats Need The Votes!” A similar placard was put up just west of Needles near the Arizona state line. Both included the California state seal and a Democratic Party logo.
At its recent monthly meetings, the Fresno County Civic Learning Partnership(CLP) addressed “Racial Conflict and Civics Education.” CLP head John Minkler assigned this topic to me. Inspired by the State Courts’ and Public Schools’ joint California Task Force on K-12 Civic Learning to improve civics education, the CLP assists schools with civic initiatives, resources and student projects.
MADDY INSTITUTE PUBLIC POLICY PROGRAMMING
Sunday, January 7, at 10 a.m. on ABC 30 –Maddy Report: 2018: The Political Forecast – Guests: John Myers with the LA Times and Dan Walters with CalMatters. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director, Mark Keppler.
Sunday, January 7, at 10 a.m. on Newstalk 580AM/105.9FM (KMJ) – Maddy Report: “State Politics: The Year Past & the Year Ahead”– Guests: John Myers with the LA Times and Dan Walters with CalMatters. Host: Maddy Institute Executive Director, Mark Keppler.
Sunday, January 7, at 7:30 a.m. on UniMas 61 (KTTF) – Informe Maddy“Follow the Money!” A Primer on the Calif Budget Process –Guest: Edgar Cabral, Analista Oficina de Analisis Legislativo. Host: Maddy Institute Program Coordinator, Maria Jeans.
This is a time of year to relax with family and friends, catch up on sleep and “Stranger Things” and, we suggest, contemplate your death. Not in a macabre way, of course. We’re hoping that Americans warm to the idea of importing a Swedish tradition known as “dostadning” – or “death cleaning.” Which means that before you die, you toss your junk, declutter the house, and leave pristine surfaces and only the most prized possessions for your heirs. As death and taxes are inevitable, so is the imperative for someone to deal with whatever you leave behind.
The federal Wilderness Act of 1964 was not vague about its intent: to protect significant and as-yet unspoiled land and wildlife habitat from the ravages of “an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement and growing mechanization.” Humans could visit, but only under certain conditions, and they couldn’t stay permanently.
California’s legal pot economy was supposed to operate under the umbrella of a vast computerized system to track marijuana from seed to storefronts, ensuring that plants are followed throughout the supply chain and don’t drift into the black market.
The state has issued 104 licenses for retail stores to sell marijuana for recreational use in California and 239 other applications for those permits are pending, officials said Tuesday. An official with the state Bureau of Cannabis Control added that the agency is prepared to begin taking enforcement action against pot shops that are not properly licensed.
The commercial interests driving the rapid legalization of marijuana in California call to mind the playbook of Big Tobacco. Since the liberalization of marijuana laws in Colorado, more people use marijuana than ever before, and many have or will become addicted. Use of healthcare resources for marijuana-associated illnesses has also increased here.
Mike Tyson is on the verge of becoming a heavyweight in California’s burgeoning marijuana industry. The former boxer and some business partners have broken ground on a 40-acre ranch in the state that they envision as a destination for growers and consumers of newly legal weed.
No one likes to see flashing red and blue lights in their rear-view mirrors, even off-duty officers. On New Year’s Day, an off-duty Visalia sergeant was driving his personal car near Mooney Boulevard and Cartmill Avenue in Tulare when a 2008 white Buick sedan pulled behind him.
President Trump on Tuesday declared that a natural disaster exists in California and ordered federal assistance to help local agencies in recovery efforts in areas affected by the Thomas fire, which started Dec. 4 and is still burning.
This Perspective explores the policy implications of the rise of algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) in two domains of significant importance and public interest: security and employment. These domains are only a subselection of larger set of affected domains identified by a panel of experts.
When Raymond Gonzales began preparing in 2016 to mount a re-election campaign to the Bakersfield City School District board of trustees, he was ready for a fight. He drummed up some funding from Milt Younger, the late local Democratic kingmaker, and began stockpiling “Vote for Ray” buttons, stationary and yard signs.
UC Santa Cruz sits on an idyllic expanse of redwood groves and rolling meadows. World-class surf is just minutes away. Its researchers were the first to arrange the DNA sequence of the human genome and make it publicly available. It is quirky and colorful, with campus traditions that include a naked run through the season’s first heavy rain and a banana slug for a mascot. So why can’t the university attract as many transfer students as the state says it must?
How far does financial aid get you if you are a poor student living in California? Unfortunately, not as far as you’d think. Consider this: The State of California spends over $2 billion per year to provide financial aid for hundreds of thousands of college students with the most financial need.
Most of the largest U.S. public universities do not track suicides among their students, despite making investments in prevention at a time of surging demand for mental health services. Tabulating student suicides comes with its own set of challenges and problems. But without that data, prevention advocates say, schools have no way to measure their success and can overlook trends that could offer insight to help them save lives.
Something that isn’t too surprising for legislators or Gov. Brown as California continues to be on the forefront of environmental policies: A major survey shows strong majority (62 percent) of Californians believe air pollution is a problem in their part of California.
In many ways, the Environmental Protection Agency was exactly what I expected when I arrived as a summer intern in June: cubicles decorated with pictures of polar bears, employees who made actual small talk about the environment, acronyms for everything. But there were clues that this was an agency under siege in the Trump administration, and before my time there had ended, I saw them firsthand.
Old-school light bulbs, known for their warm color, will start disappearing off store shelves this week because of a new state rule. It doesn’t ban all incandescent light bulbs, but establishes such high energy standards that they won’t be able to compete.
California officials are bracing for healthcare battles in Washington to have a major impact on the state’s budget and programs. Activists and politicians are planning a showdown over whether or not to establish a single-payer healthcare system in the state. And prescription drug manufacturers are the target of a number of bills meant to target the rising costs of medication.
Tethered to a breathing machine at a Manhattan hospital, 21-year-old Miriam Holman would die without a lung transplant. But her odds of finding a suitable organ were especially low in New York, where waiting times are among the longest in the country.
The United States spends almost twice as much on health care, as a percentage of its economy, as other advanced industrialized countries — totaling$3.3 trillion, or 17.9 percent of gross domestic product in 2016. But a few decades ago American health care spendingwas much closer to that of peer nations.
American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 10(1):1-39
American hospitals are required to provide emergency medical care to the uninsured. We use previously confidential hospital financial data to study the resulting uncompensated care, medical care for which no payment is received. Using both panel-data methods and case studies, we find that each additional uninsured person costs hospitals approximately $800 each year. Increases in the uninsured population also lower hospital profit margins, suggesting that hospitals do not pass along all uncompensated-care costs to other parties such as hospital employees or privately insured patients. A hospital’s uncompensated-care costs also increase when a neighboring hospital closes.
The holidays are over and as the fog of egg nog, gingerbread and candy canes begins to lift, many people find themselves confronting the harsh reality of the bathroom scale. Now is the time to put down the champagne flute, sweep up the tinsel and start thinking about healthy living and New Year’s resolutions.
The final data is in for 2016, and it’s now clear that last year was the deadliest year on record for drug overdoses. According todata released Thursday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 63,600 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, a 21 percent increase from last year’s total of 52,400.
The deal the worker struck was simple: $150 a day to tile a bathroom and stucco the walls of a home in Arcadia. The pay was to come at the end of each day but never did, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court by the California labor commissioner.
The California Research Bureau on Tuesday released its first report on incidents of discrimination under a 2015 state law that has provided driver’s licenses for hundreds of thousands of immigrants here illegally.
The Trump administration would consider immigration legislation that includes a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young people, the U.S. Homeland Security secretary said Tuesday, while emphasizing no decision on that issue has been made and a border wall remains the priority.
A request by the Justice Department to ask people about their citizenship status in the 2020 census is stirring a broad backlash from census experts and others who say the move could wreck chances for an accurate count of the population — and, by extension, a fair redistricting of the House and state legislatures next decade.
Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Thomas Homan said California “better hold on tight” after its liberal Democratic governor allowed a sanctuary state law to take effect this week. Neil Cavuto said that Gov. Jerry Brown claimed the law will protect illegal immigrants living quietly in the shadows of society from law enforcement intent on “yanking them out of there.”
Building homes in California is not an easy feat. There is extremely limited land available in key areas, making real estate prices among the nation’s highest. Impact fees are typically much higher than the national average of $6,000 per unit; fees in Los Angeles are $41,694 a unit. Average labor costs are roughly 20 percent higher in California cities than elsewhere in the country, and building standards require more expensive materials.
One way or another, two words are likely to dominate the complicated politics of California’s housing crisis in 2018: rent control. Next week state lawmakers will hear a proposal from Assemblyman Richard Bloom, Democrat from Santa Monica, that would allow cities to dramatically restrict what landlords can charge tenants year-over-year. The bill couldn’t even get a hearing last year amid intense opposition from landlords.
Browse California real estate listings and you will see impeccably staged houses with kitchens and living rooms that Martha Stewart may as well have designed. It’s a different picture when you look at property ads in Santa Rosa. Over the past few weeks more than a dozen burned out lots have come onto the market. Families whose homes were destroyed in the October wine country wildfires are selling the charred dirt where their houses once stood.
For stories on federal “tax reform” See: “Top Stories – Federal Politics,” above
Governor Jerry Brown and his Finance Department are putting finishing touches on his final budget to be presented soon. This is a second time that Brown has wrapped up two terms as Governor of California offering a final budget. While much has changed in California government, politics and demography since that “first” last budget in 1982 was completed, a look back may offer some hints on where Brown will go with his second final budget.
The new year brings with it new vehicle fees in California ranging from $25 to $175 depending on the value of your car, but Republican lawmakers are hoping to qualify a ballot measure in November to repeal the higher charges. The fees and a 12-cent increase in California’s gas tax last year are part of a plan by Democrats to raise more than $5.2 billion annually to deal with a backlog of road and bridge repairs.
The Trump administration has fired a warning shot to the nation’s railroads, saying it plans to hold them to a December deadline to install an automatic braking system that might have prevented last month’s fatal Amtrak accident in Washington state, the Philadelphia derailment that killed eight passengers in 2015 and scores of other train wrecks.
The Trump administration, teeing up a fight with California regulators, is trying to pump more water through the fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the southern half of the state despite fresh evidence of the estuary’s shrinking fish population. A proposal by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to “maximize water deliveries” represents the administration’s first concrete effort to make good on a promise Donald Trump made while campaigning for the presidency in Fresno, where he vowed to deliver more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers and derided protections for endangered fish species.
It’s been almost a year since Los Angeles residents felt any real rain, and precious little snow is in the Sierras, but water managers say it’s too early for fears that California is sliding back into drought as abruptly as the state fell out of it.
Starting this spring, no longer can every Sacramentan claim to live in the “916.” People in the six-county Sacramento region who sign up for new telephone numbers starting on March 10 may be assigned a new area code: 279. The California Public Utilities Commission said population growth and proliferation of cell devices have nearly maxed out available 916 numbers.
A relaxing day at Eastman Lake turned into a record-setting day for Joe Synder, Jr. About an hour into a relaxing fishing trip on Dec. 3 at Eastman, Snyder saw his catfish pole bent over. “We got there at about 10 a.m. and set up everything for trout,” Snyder said. “I also set out my big catfish pole. We were there for about an hour, and nothing. The next thing I know, my pole bent over. I grabbed it and the fish was going out to deep water. The fight was on.”
Twins born just minutes apart in Delanowill spend a lifetime explaining why their birth years don’t match, as one was born in 2017 and the other in 2018 – the first baby believed to be born in Kern County in the new year. Joaquin Ontiveros, Jr., was born at 11:58 p.m. on Dec. 31, according to a report from 23ABC. He weighed 5 pounds, 9 ounces and was 18 inches long. His twin sister, Aitana de Jesus Ontiveros, was born at 12:16 a.m. on Jan. 1. She was 16 1/2 inches long and weighed 4 pounds, 10 ounces.