March 30, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Jerry Brown, Democratic leaders agree to increase taxes to fix California roads – Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislative leaders announced a $5.2 billion road-funding package Wednesday that would raise gas taxes and user fees on motorists, setting off a major political struggle to pass it in the Legislature. Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee editorial; KQED report; LA Times article; ‘What would the $5.2 billion transportation tax cost you?’ in Sacramento Bee; San Jose Mercury News article

Bill McEwen: 10 things to know about Devin Nunes — You can’t turn to a cable news network these days without seeing talking heads yakking on forever about Devin Nunes or someone interviewing him about President Donald Trump, leaks, unmasking and Russia. So, I have put together 10 things you should know about the Republican who represents California’s 22nd District in Congress and chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. McEwen in Fresno Bee

Will it be Gavin Newsom against little-known Republican for California governor? — A Republican newcomer now leads the pack of candidates trailing frontrunner Gavin Newsom in next year’s race for California governor, according to a new statewide poll Wednesday. Among the five announced candidates, Newsom, who as lieutenant governor has been grooming himself for the top elected position, is out ahead with support from 28 percent of voters, the Berkeley IGS Poll found. Running behind him at 18 percent is John Cox, a Republican businessman from Rancho Santa Fe who announced his candidacy earlier this month. Sacramento Bee article

State budget

Cal Arts Groups lobby to keep increases to state funding — California arts advocates are fighting battles on many fronts these days. As cuts loom over federal arts funding, local organizations are lobbying state lawmakers to maintain the same level of support for the arts in the new state budget as the previous year. KQED report

Gov. Brown

Board member asks Jerry Brown to take over California troubled tax collection agency — critical audit of the Board of Equalization is not yet public, but it’s already prompting demands for changes at an agency that collects $60 billion a year in tax revenue. Board member Fiona Ma on Monday sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown asking him to appoint a public trustee to oversee the agency. Sacramento Bee article; Sacramento Bee article: ‘Board member Jerome Horton fights his depiction in audit of state tax agency’

Valley politics

Amid controversy, Devin Nunes returning to Fresno to talk water — Rep. Devin Nunes, the Republican congressman from Tulare who’s been at the center of a political firestorm in Washington, D.C., is scheduled to address water issues at a meeting of agricultural lenders Friday in Fresno. Fresno Bee article

No worries for Nunes back home – Back home, however, there is little evidence that Nunes’ grind through news cycle after news cycle is turning his district against him. Even Republicans left scratching their heads by his actions are inclined to give Nunes the benefit of the doubt. If anything, his difficulties in Washington are only improving his stock among Republicans at home. Politico article

Looking to get ahold of Rep. Kevin McCarthy? New app has you covered — Based on your “letters to the editor,” some of you have had a hard time getting ahold of Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield. There’s a new app called Stance, and it can help you reach your U.S. Senate or House representative. Bakersfield Californian article

Jeff Jardine: Is push for strong mayor in Modesto in the offing as council makes changes at the top? — That Modesto City Manager Jim Holgersson’s job is imperiled reaffirms the precarious nature of the position due to the built-in power struggle of the council/manager system and illustrates the impact of personality conflicts when it comes to running a city. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

LA doctor jumps into the race for California’s lieutenant governor — Los Angeles physician Asif Mahmood, a Democrat and supporter of a “Medicare for all” national healthcare plan, has announced he’ll run for California lieutenant governor.  LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article


California backs San Francisco court challenge of Trump administration threat to withhold funds from ‘sanctuary cities’ – Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said Wednesday he has filed an amicus brief supporting San Francisco’s court challenge to President Trump’s order targeting so-called sanctuary cities and counties that refuse to enforce federal immigration laws. LA Times article

George Skelton: California Democrats want a ‘sanctuary state’ for immigrants here illegally. But those who are felons should be sent packing – Democratic politicians want California to be a sanctuary for immigrants here illegally. OK. If they’re hard working and obeying the law, fine. But if they’re thugs? Call the feds and boot their butts back across the border. Skelton column in LA Times

Build the wall? Some Bay Area businesses raise their hands — Liz Derr does not support President Trump’s immigration policies — especially when it comes to the “big, beautiful wall” he wants to build across the U.S.-Mexico border. But if the government is actually going to build the wall, she said, then her company, Simularity, would like to help. San Francisco Chronicle article

As feds seek more beds to lock up deportable immigrants, California may try to thwart them – Although the U.S. immigration detention program is the largest single incarceration system in the country, its facilities are often leased. Of the 10 long-term immigration detention facilities in California, none are federally owned: five are county jails, one is a city facility, and the remaining four are owned and operated by for-profit companies. CALmatters article

Hawaii judge extends national block on Trump travel ban – The Hawaii federal judge who brought President Trump’s revised travel ban to a national halt this month on Wednesday extended his order blocking the ban’s enforcement. LA Times article

Erika D. Smith: There is no calm way to discuss getting deported — Almost two hours is a long time to try to have a conversation with hundreds of irate people who are calling you a liar, comparing you to Adolf Hitler, and generally telling you to die and go to hell. So when Tuesday’s public forum on immigration mercifully came to a close, I can’t blame the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Thomas Homan, for making a beeline to the back door of the Sacramento County Youth Gym, a contingent of beefy, scowling men right behind him. Smith column in Sacramento Bee

In Alameda County, a new coalition aims to counter deportations – In response to the heightened anxiety among undocumented East Bay residents, Alameda County and Oakland are funding a new 24/7 hotline where immigrants can report suspected enforcement activity by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. The hotline was launched this month and is operated by a coalition, known as the Alameda County Immigration Legal & Education Partnership (ACILEP). KQED report

Mexican state attorney general arrested at U.S. border in San Diego on drug trafficking charges — Federal agents in San Diego have arrested the attorney general for the Mexican state of Nayarit on charges that he conspired to smuggle heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine into the U.S. LA Times article

Other areas

California bill would give teachers more time to earn tenure – A California lawmaker who says schools do not have enough time to make teacher tenure decisions announced a bill on Tuesday that would give teachers additional years to prove they deserve permanent status. AP article; Visalia Times-Delta article

Lara announces details on single-payer health system for all Californians – Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, released policy details about a plan to create a single-payer health care system for all California residents on Thursday. Lara’s proposal would drastically alter the insurance market in the state. Sacramento Bee article

Senate panel vows full investigation of Trump’s Russia ties — The top Republican and the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee distanced themselves from a flagging House effort and vowed to take the Trump-Russia inquiry “wherever the intelligence leads.” New York Times article; LA Times article

Lawmaker: Stem cell ‘boondoggle’ should end — A California legislator has launched an effort to terminate the $3 billion California stem cell agency, which is already set to go out of business in about three years. Capitol Weekly article

Will voters agree that Libby Schaaf made the right call on Raiders? — Give it up for Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, the first-term mayor who told the millionaire sports team owner and his iconic, $2.1 billion business to stop begging for more taxpayer money to stay in town. So the Oakland Raiders are leaving. The political question that remains: Will voters think that was a good move? San Francisco Chronicle article

PolitiFact CA: Has California really created more than 2 million jobs since 2011? — Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown was asked during his recent appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press why so many voters in the Golden State supported Hillary Clinton for president. Brown, a four-term governor, said the reason is simple: California’s job growth and prosperity.  PolitiFact CA article

Anti-discrimination measure or blow to religious freedom? California bill sparks debate on employer codes of conduct – A measure that would bar employers from firing workers for having an abortion or giving birth to a child out of wedlock is getting pushback from religious groups who say such a bill would prevent them from requiring employees to act in accordance with their faith. LA Times article

The legal stakes at play in California’s case against antiabortion activists — California’s prosecution of two antiabortion activists on felony charges of invasion of privacy appears to be on solid ground, though the case is likely to test the strength of the state’s ban on the surreptitious recording of others, legal experts said Wednesday. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

By the numbers, Trump’s big environmental regulation rollback is all kinds of unpopular — President Trump has taken steps to erase the Obama administration’s environmental record in an effort to buoy the struggling coal industry. But the move risks running afoul of public opinion, with majorities of the public in support of several rules that Trump is focused on dismantling. Washington Post article

Infrastructure won’t be the big item Trump can check off as early win – President Donald Trump’s infrastructure plan won’t be ready until later this year, delaying one of his signature campaign promises and depriving his administration of a big policy achievement in the first months of his presidency. McClatchy Newspapers article

Joe Mathews: Responding to claim that Trump is California product — California has its problems. But that’s no excuse for Trumpians to put their crap on our home state. Mathews in Sacramento Bee

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

California sees heaviest mountain snowpack in years — Surveyors will crunch across the deepest mountain snowdrifts California has seen in years on Thursday to take the first snow measurement of the spring, a time when the snow begins to melt and flow downhill. AP article

New pact will guarantee some high schoolers admission to CSUB — More than 10,000 students projected to graduate as part of Kern High School District’s 2022 class will be guaranteed admission to Cal State Bakersfield if they meet a set of requirements laid out in a new initiative the two institutions introduced Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto on track with Amgen Tour of California costs – Modesto expects to recoup its costs of hosting the Stage 2 start of the 2017 Amgen Tour of California, which features some of the world’s top male cyclists, who will compete over 600 miles throughout California over one week in May. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento tries to fend off LA in race for $44 million from VW to boost electric cars – The money is practically within Sacramento’s grasp – a $44 million jackpot, funded by Volkswagen to help make amends for an air-pollution scandal, to promote the use of electric cars within the city. California’s other polluted communities aren’t just letting Sacramento walk away with the cash, however. Los Angeles is pushing to be designated as Volkswagen’s first California “Green City” instead, while representatives of the San Joaquin Valley say their region needs the money more than Sacramento. Sacramento Bee article

Taxpayers’ cost for Coliseum redo: It’s worse than you knew — It turns out the oft-quoted $200 million taxpayer-backed bond that brought the Raiders back to the East Bay in 1995 is going to end up costing $350 million. It’s a debt that Oakland and Alameda County taxpayers will be paying off until 2025 — well after Raiders owner Mark Davis is enjoying his new digs in Las Vegas. San Francisco Chronicle article

Raiders aren’t welcome in Oakland for 2019 season, stadium authority chief says – Raiders owner Mark Davis said Monday that the team “would love nothing more than to bring a championship back to the Bay Area” before moving to Las Vegas, likely in 2020. Well, it turns out the Bay Area might not want another championship from the Raiders — especially not if it’s from the 2019 season. LA Times article

Report: State, U.S. economic growth clouded by ‘turmoil’ in Trump administration – The future of the steadily growing economies in California and nationwide is clouded by “ongoing turmoil” in the administration of President Donald Trump, according to a new economic forecast from Beacon Economics. Sacramento Bee article

Hanford garbage pick up fee slated to increase – Hanford officials are planning a trash rate increase for Hanford residents. Under the proposed 15 percent increase, which officials say is necessary to deal with rising costs, the average Hanford household will see their bill go from $21.95 a month to $25.20 a month by fiscal year 2018-2019. Hanford Sentinel article

Dan Doyle honored at State of Downtown Fresno event — Dan Doyle, former president of Central Valley Community Bank and current board member, was the recipient of the Al Allen award for downtown boosters. Doyle took a leadership role in creating the Business Improvement District that prompted the formation of the Downtown Fresno Partnership. The Business Journal article

Bay Area’s high prices, traffic could spur exodus — An increasing number of Bay Area residents are planning to move out of the area, or at least considering it, primarily because of housing prices, the rising cost of living and traffic, according to a new poll.  San Francisco Chronicle article; San Jose Mercury News article

Congrats, Atherton: Your 94027 ZIP code is again the costliest in California – Congratulations, Atherton. Your 94027 ZIP code is the most expensive in California. Basically, that makes it ground zero for outlandishly expensive houses: $6,177,000 is the median value, according to a report in Time magazine. San Jose Mercury News article

Temporary shelter options for Merced County homeless families in the works — Homeless families in Merced County often don’t have an option when it comes to staying together at a shelter temporarily. Sometimes their only options are to sleep outside, in a car if they have one or travel outside the county to a shelter. Merced Sun-Star article

Huge cigarette tax will kick in Saturday – On Saturday, the tax on a pack of cigarettes in California will increase $2, rising from 87 cents to $2.87. The tax increase was authorized when voters in November approved Proposition 56, the California Healthcare, Research and Prevention Tobacco Tax Act. Stockton Record article

Steve Lopez: LA’s chronicle challenge: What to do with the mentally ill homeless who refuse help? — Down on skid row, the doctor was talking to the social worker about the people they’ve lost, and about who was next in line for a free ride to the graveyard. Lopez in LA Times


Foster Farms prepares for possible picketing at Livingston chicken plant – Fencing has gone up at the massive Foster Farms chicken plant in the event of picketing related to labor negotiations. The company and the United Farm Workers have been discussing a contract to replace the one expiring in October for most of the 2,500 or so employees. The fencing is aimed at keeping people safe, Foster Farms spokesman Ira Brill said Wednesday. Merced Sun-Star/Modesto Bee article

Local man honored as Tulare County Farmer of the Year — As a grower of cotton, silage corn, alfalfa, black-eyed peas, almonds and pistachios – Doug Mederos spends his day’s getting his hands dirty. He’s no stranger to dirt, mud, or machinery. It’s something he’s known his whole life. Yesterday, though, he spent his day shaking hands and saying, “Thank you,” as he was named 2017 Farmer of the Year. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sacramento police confrontation leaves man with severe brain damage – A methamphetamine user with a troubled past, John Hernandez was behaving strangely enough in a Sacramento drug store parking lot for two people to call 911 on a recent weekday afternoon. Sacramento Bee article

Los Banos corruption case gets Santa Clara judge – A Los Banos public corruption case will be tried by a judge from another county after a Merced County judge recused himself Wednesday. Merced Sun-Star article

Ex-deputy treasurer of Compton stole $3.7 million in parking ticket and other fees, feds say. For years, no one noticed — Over the last six years, officials allege that Compton’s then-deputy city treasurer, Salvador Galvan, brazenly skimmed more than $3.7 million from City Hall, taking anywhere from $200 to $8,000 a day. The losses were small enough, federal prosecutors said, that they didn’t trigger alarm for years, but fellow employees privately wondered how he could afford a new Audi and other upscale expenses on a $60,000 salary. LA Times article


Central Valley needs crop of university graduates – University of California, Davis, students loaded onto a bus Monday and headed to the Central Valley to learn about career opportunities the area has to offer. One stop the students made on their “career trek” was to Nichols Farms in Hanford. Hanford Sentinel article

Sacramento schools join legal effort challenging Trump on sanctuary penalties — Sacramento City Unified joined other school districts and teachers unions Wednesday in a legal brief supporting San Francisco’s efforts to maintain federal funds for sanctuary jurisdictions. Sacramento Bee article

Can mandatory college entrance exams boost college access? — California ranks 47th out of the 50 states in the proportion of recent high school graduates that attend a four-year college. There are big recognizable barriers to attending a four-year college, such as cost. However, there are also smaller barriers—like taking a college entrance exam such as the SAT or ACT—that can keep students from even being eligible for entry to a four-year college. Public Policy Institute of California article

Josh Webb: Thank goodness my vote didn’t stop Division I move – The radio host of Turf Show Radio writes, “Twenty-oh-five marked the first time I had ever heard of a feasibility study. California State University Bakersfield had announced it was performing just such an analysis to gauge whether or not a move to Division I was something the school should do. Athletes went from classroom to classroom, trying to get students to vote for a move in the upcoming referendum. The crazy thing about the vote is that it almost didn’t pass. I was one of 864 students to vote no on the referendum, but 893 students voted yes.” Webb op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Speak now, on Modesto City Schools outreach, English materials, maps – Modesto City Schools is asking for community input on how to better involve parents, which of its trustee areas best match its voters and what the public thinks of online English materials recommended for adoption. And for next year’s high school families, an education technology expert will speak April 4 about what to expect with a new computer coming home in student backpacks. Modesto Bee article

Guidelines designed to help districts implement new science standards – Thorough, comprehensive teacher training and textbooks that appeal to a diverse array of students will be key to successfully implementing California’s new science standards, according to guidelines released by the standards’ creators. EdSource article

Plant sale not the only thing blooming at Edible Schoolyard — Unless you’re a student, staffer or parent from Buena Vista Elementary School, you’re not likely to have checked out the nearby Buena Vista Edible Schoolyard, which partners with the school for classes throughout the year. For those aiming for a peek — and a plant or two to take home — the facility will host its annual plant sale on Saturday. The event promises a day of snacking, activities, learning and fun. Bakersfield Californian article


5 ways climate change is affecting Stockton – Politics aside, scientists have documented a number of ways in which human-caused climate change is already affecting California and, by extension, Stockton. It is not some vague future threat. Here are five ways in which climate change hits home.  Stockton Record article

Trump order could ease restrictions on oil and gas drilling in some national parks — When President Donald Trump signed his “energy independence” executive order on Tuesday, he made no mention of making it easier for energy companies to drill for oil in national parks. But tucked into his 2,300-word order is a sentence that could do just that, potentially affecting national park lands in Florida, Kentucky, Texas and other states. McClatchy Newspapers article

An artist meets a farmer who met a banker. The result: environmental awareness — What happens when a farmer, a banker and an artist come together? In one case in Fresno, the outcome is environmental awareness. Fresno Bee article

Health/Human Services

Laura’s Law discussion stirs emotions at county meetings – Almost 130 people attended meetings Tuesday and Wednesday on adopting Laura’s Law in Stanislaus County. Participants absorbed information and engaged in frank discussion on the voluntary state law calling for court-ordered therapy for people who have refused treatment for severe mental disorders. Modesto Bee article

Adventist Health unveils new mission and branding — Adventist Health’s “new mission and direction for its brand” has been unveiled to more than 4,000 physicians, providers, employees and volunteers at meetings that started Tuesday and will end Thursday. Hanford Sentinel article


Study: Fresno among U.S. airports needing cash for improvements — U.S. airports need more than $100 billion in renovations and infrastructure improvements. This from a study of 100 airports that included Fresno Yosemite International Airport, but the report released earlier this month doesn’t list the needs and costs of any of the airports. The Business Journal article

Other areas

McFarland’s first traffic light signals change — They may be bracing for the inevitable “one-horse town” wisecracks from big-city slickers. But residents of this northern Kern County city were much too happy to worry about such things Wednesday morning when the town’s first traffic signal was switched on to great fanfare amid a sense that good things are happening here. Bakersfield Californian article

Manteca parts ways with city manager — After less than a year, the city of Manteca has parted ways with its city manager. Joe Kriskovich, Manteca’s director of human resources and risk management, issued a news release Tuesday night stating the city and Elena Reyes have agreed to part ways. Stockton Record article

Heroes of all sizes: 7 honored for a variety of caring acts — They do great things, whether large or small, and on Wednesday seven individuals and two businesses were honored by the Red Cross for being heroes. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – President Trump tries to turn back the clock with his love of coal.

Merced Sun-Star – All the executive orders in the world won’t make Americans want to go back to smog and coal fire, or bring back Trump’s youthful heyday.

Modesto Bee – All the executive orders in the world won’t make Americans want to go back to smog and coal fire, or bring back Trump’s youthful heyday.

Sacramento Bee – The transportation deal announced by Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday warrants support. But there is a cautionary note, actually many of them, as is evident to people who drive Northern California roads. Money from a tax hike cannot be wasted; California has thrown the book at David Daleiden. It’s a precedent worth watching, but in this case, it was deserved.