October 10, 2017



Local/Regional Politics: 

Town hall called over opioid abuse in Fresno and Clovis

The Fresno Bee

Two doctors, the Fresno County District Attorney and a former opioid addict took on what they say is the growing problem of prescription painkiller addiction in Fresno County during a town hall meeting Monday night at The People’s Church in northeast Fresno.

Will new board end Tulare cemetery drama?


Carelessness and a lack of management for the Tulare Public Cemetery has led to turnover on the district’s board.

State Politics:

‘I’m all in,’ California Sen. Dianne Feinstein says on re-election bid

Sacramento Bee

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California announced Monday that she will seek a fifth full term next year, ending months of speculation as a growing stable of possible Democratic successors sat in waiting.

See also:

·       ‘I Have the Energy’: Dianne Feinstein Makes Case for a 6th Term  New York Times

·       Dianne Feinstein confronts a race for a sixth U.S. Senate term — and her party’s shift to the left  LA Times

·       Progressive California Democrat calls for Feinstein primary challenge POLITICO

·       Feinstein running for reelection in California  POLITICO

·       Dianne Feinstein, 84, is seeking another Senate term. Who might challenge her? Los Angeles Daily

·       Garcetti, Harris shaking trees for Feinstein re-election bid  Sacramento Bee

California governor signs drug pricing transparency law


California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday signed state legislation requiring drug companies to report certain price hikes for prescription medicines in a move that could set a model for other states to follow.

State will consider lifting contribution limits to California legislators’ legal defense funds 

Los Angeles Times

After successfully fighting to bar restrictions on political donations to legislators facing recall, an attorney who normally represents Democratic lawmakers is asking the state to also drop limits on contributions to legal defense funds used by lawmakers facing criminal or civil investigations.

Travis Allen: Democratic policies have made California poorer

San Francisco Chronicle

California has an abundance of poverty and a shortage of housing. Crime, energy prices, rent and the general cost of living are increasing. Our tax burden is one of the highest in America. Californians pay 40 percent more than the national average for their energy. All of this is the predictable result of state laws and regulations that the elites can afford but that make the rest of California poorer.

Big Oil pulls Democratic lawmakers through the revolving door


Inside the California Assembly chamber on the night of June 1, the presiding officer urged lawmakers to recognize former members in their midst, “the honorable Henry Perea and Felipe Fuentes.” In a familiar Capitol ritual, the former assemblymen waved from the balcony as applause rang out from their one-time colleagues.

Political Road Map: How California went from worst to first in drawing fair political maps

LA Times

As the U.S. Supreme Court considers its role in forcing states to draw fair political maps, Californians know well how the process can be manipulated. They saw it happen over and over again, for decades.

Federal Politics: 

Feinstein, de León tangle over gun-control

The Sacramento Bee

Tangling with Sen. Dianne Feinstein over one of her signature issues, California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said Sunday that the United States can prevent mass killings like the one last week in Las Vegas by “getting weapons designed for the battlefield out of our neighborhoods.” 

Boldly going where few vice presidents have gone before: Pence to visit Mojave spaceport Tuesday

Bakersfield Californian

The Mojave Air and Spaceport will get a visit from Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday afternoon. Pence and his wife will get a tour of some of the businesses developing commercial space flight capabilities at the east Kern County spaceport.

See also

·       Pence tours California, raises funds for House Republicans Washington Post

·       During stop in suburban Sacramento, Pence says Trump’s tax plan will pass this year Los Angeles Times

During stop in suburban Sacramento, Pence says Trump’s tax plan will pass this year

Los Angeles Times

Vice President Mike Pence toured an industrial machine shop in a Sacramento suburb on Monday evening to pitch President Trump’s tax reform plan.

See also:

·        How Trump’s tax plan could backfire on Wall Street  CNN


No problems as magnitude 4.1 earthquake shakes San Jose

Fresno Bee

A small earthquake in Silicon Valley was felt by many thousands of people, but there were no reports of damages or injuries.

See also:

·       Earthquake, magnitude 4.1, rattles South Bay  San Jose Mercury News

‘Guilty and helpless’: Las Vegas shooting survivors, unscathed physically, have much to deal with


Lanie Wright watched in terror as bullets fired by an unseen gunman rained down on a Las Vegas crowd of concert-goers last week.

See also: 

·       Truth & Falsity Regarding Statements about Guns  PolitiFact

·       What Is The NRA? A History, And 9 Facts You Might Not Have Known NPR

·       Why gun sales in California spiked in 2016 San Jose Mercury News

Add Google to the list of tech companies used by Russians to spread disinformation

Washington Post

Russian operatives bought ads across several of Google’s services without the company’s knowledge, the latest evidence that their campaign to influence U.S. voters was as sprawling as it was sophisticated in deploying the technology industry’s most powerful tools.

Election Officials Attacked From All Sides on Purging Voter Rolls

Pew Charitable Trusts

Local and state election officials have long faced the difficult task of facilitating one of democracy’s central tenets: figuring out who to take off outdated voter rolls without disenfranchising eligible voters.

On Trump: Make politics about government again

Business Insider

In theory, we elect public officials to run the government. The government does a lot of things, and public officials make a lot of choices about what it will do. Other choices they make affect how well the government does those things, and how much it costs. But these matters have become less and less central in American politics. 


Banning bump stocks is a no-brainer. What else you got, Congress?

Fresno Bee

It shouldn’t take 547 innocent people getting shot to convince Republicans to consider a modest gun control policy. 20 schoolkids should’ve been enough.

Saying farewell to two excellent public servants

Modesto Bee

It’s difficult to adequately say goodbye to those who helped shape what we’ve become – people who set examples, worked for the public good and stood up when needed.

Is US Sen. Dianne Feinstein too old to run again? It’s up to voters to decide

Los Angeles Times

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein ended months of speculation Monday when she said she was running for reelection in 2018. “I’m all in!” she tweeted and wrote in a Facebook post. 

Dianne Feinstein’s re-election shouldn’t be a coronation. But here’s what foes will face

Sacramento Bee

Feinstein’s decision to run again means worthy replacements must wait or challenge an elder stateswoman. That is unfortunate.

Horrific Napa, Sonoma fires show need for new firefighting strategy

San Jose Mercury News

The foolish practice of taking money out of the Forest Service’s prevention budget when its firefighting budget runs out must stop

Trump’s decisions to end DACA and the Clean Power Plan are all about negating Obama

Los Angeles Times

President Trump’s spiteful campaign to undo the accomplishments of his predecessor has ramped up on two fronts in recent days. On Sunday, the White House announced that it intends to hold the future of the so-called Dreamers hostage to Trump’s vision of an America with fewer immigrants.


Legal marijuana causes warehouse rent to skyrocket in Sacramento – 4 or 5 times normal

Sacramento Bee

Legal pot growers are pushing prices and rents for industrial properties to unheard-of heights in some areas of the city of Sacramento. Warehouses and light-industrial buildings are selling for twice the usual asking prices, and rents have skyrocketed to four or five times normal in the industrial area between Power Inn Road and Watt Avenue in the city’s southeast area, commercial real estate brokers said.

29 states have legal pot. Jeff Sessions wants to stamp it out, and …

Los Angeles Times

The 85 words almost seemed an afterthought when Congress hurriedly crammed them into a massive budget bill late in the Obama administration, as if lawmakers wanted to acknowledge America’s outlook on marijuana had changed, but not make a big deal of it. 

Abcarian: With cannabis legalization around the corner, Los Angeles contemplates another dumb move 

Los Angeles Times

Like countless Californians in the last few years, Roberta Koz Wilson and her brother Jeff saw the coming revolution in cannabis and decided they wanted a piece of it. Or in their case, a bite.


For stories on Las Vegas mass shooting and ”gun control,” See: “Top Stories – Other,” above 


California regulators reject new lethal injection method 


California regulators for the second time Monday rejected a proposed new method of carrying out the death penalty by lethal injection, another move that slows the process for California to resume executing death row inmates.


Santa Rosa Fire: Hundreds of structures burned, hospitals evacuated

Fresno Bee/Sacramento Bee

Wildfires driven by powerful winds tore through Northern California’s famed wine country Monday, killing at least 10, leveling neighborhoods and forcing thousands of residents to grab what they could and flee from fast-moving walls of flames.

See also:

·       Wildfires burn homes, scorch thousands of acres in Yuba, Butte, Nevada counties Sacramento Bee

·       California fires: Hospital, homes, resort evacuated in wine country  visaliatimesdelta.com

·       At least 10 are dead in destructive Northern California firestorm Los Angeles Times

·       At least 10 Dead, 1,500 Buildings Destroyed In Northern California Wildfires capradio.org

·       Where Wine Country fires rank among California’s all-time worst San Jose Mercury News

·       VP Pence pledges ‘any and all assistance’ in Wine Country fire disaster  SFGate.com

Wildfires Put State Budgets Under Pressure

Pew Charitable Trusts

The wildfires that tore through over a million acres of Montana this year damaged homes, cloaked communities in smoke, and burned a hole in the state budget.  

Public Safety:

Knowingly exposing others to HIV is no longer a felony in California

Washington Post

California lawmakers have passed legislation to reduce the penalty for those who knowingly or intentionally expose others to HIV without their knowledge, rolling back a law that mostly affected sex workers.

San Quentin warden pays fine for ethics violation

San Francisco Chronicle

The warden of San Quentin Prison has paid $4,000 for state ethics violations associated with a trip he and his wife took to Las Vegas that was paid for by the Mexican Consulate General in San Francisco.

Merced area health clinic is being investigated by various federal departments

Merced Sun-Star

The Merced area health clinic that closed its doors and filed for bankruptcy is being investigated by various state and federal agencies, according to court documents. The health clinics bankruptcy filing has also changed, which can mean some employees won’t receive the wages they are owed.


Fires strike a blow to the wine industry in Sonoma and Napa counties 

Los Angeles Times

The deadly firestorms raging across wine country have burned hotels, small lodges, winery buildings and even some vineyards, officials in the region said. But the worst damage is likely to be to the residents who toil in the wine and tourism industry, particularly in Santa Rosa, in Sonoma County, where the Fountaingrove fire devastated neighborhoods in the north end of the city.



California test scores underscore education crisis

Sacramento Bee

California has spent tens of billions of extra dollars on its K-12 school system in recent years on promises that its abysmal levels of academic achievement – especially those of disadvantaged children – would be improved.

California fines charter school chain $2 million

San Jose Mercury News

In long-awaited results of a 1½-year investigation, California’s finance and education chiefs on Monday issued a critical audit of the online charter-school chain California Virtual Academies, finding several contractual violations and irregularities and imposing a nearly $2 million fine. 

Higher Ed:

Do You Need a Formal Degree, or Will a MOOC Do?

Harvard Business Review

We all know that in the modern economy, we can’t just stop learning. But how to keep educating ourselves is a complicated question. Is it a worthwhile investment to get a formal degree, like an MBA or PhD? Should you take a more targeted approach, with a short-term executive education program? Or perhaps DIY it by signing up for an online offering, such as a MOOC?



Heavy smoke and ash from OC fire causes unhealthy air quality across region

Los Angeles Times

The fire burning in the Anaheim Hills area was causing smoke to flow into Orange County, causing unhealthy air in some areas.

Fire and high winds prompt traffic and health warnings

Bakersfield Californian

On a day scarred by an unprecedented number of wildfires across California, from wine country to Orange County, heavy winds blew through Bakersfield Monday, contributing to at least two brush fires, a shutdown of outdoor school sports activities, traffic advisories and a valley fever warning.

California could ban gasoline cars — if automakers don’t beat state to it

San Francisco Chronicle

In January, when the California Legislature reconvenes, Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, plans to introduce a bill that would ban new vehicles that run on gasoline or diesel after 2040.

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fall 2 percent in 2016, led by power industry: EPA


Greenhouse gas emissions from America’s largest industrial facilities fell 2 percent in 2016 to 2.99 billion tonnes, led by a large cut from the power sector, according to data published on Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump administration to sign climate rule repeal proposal Tuesday


EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said Monday he will formally sign a proposal to withdraw the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan on Tuesday in Washington.

See also:


California Energy Prices – Sept 2017

Center for Jobs and the Economy

The country shed 33,000 jobs in September, the first loss in seven years, the Labor Department said Friday, ending the longest stretch of job growth on record.

Big Oil pulls Democratic lawmakers through the revolving door


Inside the California Assembly chamber on the night of June 1, the presiding officer urged lawmakers to recognize former members in their midst, “the honorable Henry Perea and Felipe Fuentes.” In a familiar Capitol ritual, the former assemblymen waved from the balcony as applause rang out from their one-time colleagues.


TRMC boots HCCA, but it’s up to a judge now

Visalia Times Delta

A federal judge will be asked to cut ties between Tulare hospital and the people who run it.

Gov. Brown signs drug pricing transparency bill

San Jose Mercury News

Saying there is “real evil when so many people are suffering so much from rising drug profits,” Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law what is believed to be the nation’s most comprehensive legislation aimed at shining a light on prescription drug pricing.

See also:

·       California governor signs drug pricing transparency law Reuters

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes measure to create new state task force on opioid prescriptions 

Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a measure on Monday that sought to curb escalating opioid addiction rates by creating a new state working group tasked with determining best practices in prescribing addictive drugs.

Bad medicine: California lags other states in empowering nurse practitioners

Los Angeles Times

California doesn’t have enough doctors. By 2025, the state will be short about 4,700 primary-care physicians, according to a recent report from the UC San Francisco Healthforce Center. This will result in more people turning to costly emergency-room visits for routine care, it predicts. 


Tulare County Sheriff: Business as usual for the new ‘sanctuary state’


Valley immigrants are breathing a little easier following an announcement by Gov. Jerry Brown that California is now a “sanctuary state.”

Fearing deportation, many domestic violence victims are steering clear of police and courts

Los Angeles Times

The woman on the other end of the line said her husband had been beating her for years, even while she was pregnant.

Despite assurances to nervous immigrants, Sheriff’s Department gave ICE assistance in jails

Los Angeles Times

Since President Trump laid out his plan for mass deportations, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has gone out of its way to reassure the public it had strict limits on cooperating with immigration officials.

Trump’s Argument Against Immigrants: We’ve Heard It Before

New York Times

Though the roots of most Americans lie in other lands, there is among them a streak of xenophobia that can be broad. Chinese and Irish immigrants were the targets of nativist hostility in the 19th century, as were Eastern European Jews and Southern Italians in the early 20th. Japanese-Americans were confined to detention camps in World War II. Now the unwelcome mat is spread for many Latinos and Muslims. 


Land Use:

Innovation districts down under: A postcard from Melbourne, Australia


I recently returned from a fascinating week-long visit to Melbourne, Australia, where I spent time with key representatives from the state of Victoria, the University of Melbourne, the city of Melbourne, and other key stakeholders to learn how Melbourne is advancing innovation districts. Frankly, I was surprised by the level of work underway: there are multiple innovation districts (or innovation precincts, as they are often called there) in various phases of development, which cumulatively has the potential to create a broader innovation ecosystem—or innovation spine—across the city. 


California Housing Plan Is a Dud, but Local Rules Are the Biggest Problem


Perhaps it’s the sign of Capitol hubris, but lawmakers in the waning days of the legislative session touted their “housing package” as a big part of the solution to California’s ongoing housing “crisis.” It’s an actual crisis. 


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

How ping pong balls could inform Kern County’s transition to Lean Six Sigma management approach |


Kern County will reveal its plans Tuesday for moving beyond the toy catapult stage of improving the efficiency of county government. 

Property tax bills mailed for fiscal year 2017-18


Kern County Treasurer and Tax Collector Jordan Kaufman announced Monday the recent mailing of approximately 397,000 real property tax bills totaling more than $1.19 billion for the fiscal year 2017-18. 

One-Stop Shopping for State Services On Its Way

Pew Charitable Trusts

Imagine a day when you can renew your car registration, pay your taxes and apply for Medicaid, all by clicking on to one state web portal.


Walnut Creek counting on new state aid for road projects

East Bay Times

The city expects to land approximately $1.6 million for road repair projects over the next two years as a result of Gov. Jerry Brown signing Senate Bill 1 into law in April, and the City Council has approved a list of projects that money will help pay for.


Delta tunnels’ fate rests with Metropolitan Water District

Sacramento Bee

In 1960, the water barons of Los Angeles stood between Gov. Pat Brown and his dream of building a network of dams and canals to make the southern half of California bloom. He beat them – just barely, after weeks of public arm-twisting – and the State Water Project was born. 

Audit shows Delta WaterFix is broken beyond repair

San Jose Mercury News

When it comes to solving California’s water challenge, Gov. Jerry Brown has been as inept as Republicans trying to offer up a health care solution. A devastating report released Thursday by state auditor Elaine Howell makes that clear.


 Leading the orchestra for the first time in the philharmonic’s history will be a woman


Rei Hotoda seemed to connect with the musicians and orchestra long before she was selected to lead the Fresno Philharmonic. During her weeklong interview, she felt a natural fit with the audience and instantly loved Fresno.