May 10, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories

Kern County supervisors vote to oppose California sanctuary bill — Four of five Kern County supervisors voted Tuesday to oppose the proposed state “sanctuary” law that triggered a battle with Sheriff Donny Youngblood last week. And they plan to push for changes in the bill over the next week. Bakersfield Californian article 

Dan Walters: Exempt diapers and tampons from taxes? Nice idea but poor policy — A much-publicized bill that would exempt diapers, tampons and other feminine health products from sales taxes – and pay for it with a liquor tax hike – stalled in committee this week, and its sponsors are understandably upset. However a nice idea isn’t good tax policy. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Valley politics

Why activists had a ‘flip-flop’ throne waiting for Rep. Jeff Denham in Riverbank – It was billed as Coffee & Casual Conversation with Congressman Jeff Denham. But the gathering at the Teen Center here, intended to focus first and foremost on local issues, immediately became about the Turlock Republican’s vote last week in the House to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with the American Health Care Act. Modesto Bee article; KQED report

After healthcare vote, California Rep. Jeff Denham hears from angry constituents: ‘You voted against me’ — Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), who voted for the Republican healthcare bill that passed the House last week, flew home this week to face his constituents, meeting with a small crowd Tuesday morning in his Central Valley district. “You voted against me,” said one woman who said she depends on Medi-Cal for her healthcare. “I voted for something that I thought would help my district,” he said. LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Protestors want Nunes to hold town hall meeting – About two dozen protesters showed up to the district office of Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Visalia), asking for a chance to be heard on immigration and health care Tuesday morning. The protesters also wanted to know about Nunes’ refusal to host a town hall meeting. Visalia Times-Delta article

Bakersfield Ward 5 profile: Stay-at-home dad Noel Pineo wants to fix roads, raise revenue – He will probably most stand out to Ward 5 voters as the one listed as “Stay-At-Home Father” on their special election ballot for June 6. Father of two Noel Pineo, 58, is running the quietest and most frugal campaign of the three candidates seeking the southwest Bakersfield City Council seat, which was left open by Jeff Tkac’s suicide in early January. Bakersfield Californian article

 New San Joaquin County registrar of voters embraces technology — The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday named Melinda Dubroff the new registrar of voters. “I am delighted,” Dubroff said to the board. She will start her new position on June 26. Stockton Record article


Feinstein talks about helping ‘scared’ farm workers move toward legal status — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein talked Tuesday about her renewed effort to move undocumented farm workers toward legal status. The California Democrat is co-sponsoring a bill that she said is especially urgent with the deportation threats from President Donald Trump. It would allow these immigrants to stay in the United States permanently if they meet minimum hours for farm work over several years. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

There were serious problems in 2016 for some California voters who don’t speak English, new report says — California voters with limited English language skills were too often left on their own when it came to getting help casting ballots last November, concludes a sweeping new survey based on eyewitness accounts logged by hundreds of election volunteers. LA Times article

GOP senators can cut Obamacare taxes or preserve coverage for millions – but probably not both – As they take up the campaign to replace the Affordable Care Act, SenateRepublicans face a critical choice between cutting taxes or preserving health coverage for millions of Americans, two competing demands that may yet derail the GOP push to roll back the 2010 healthcare law. LA Times article

California wants to make interfering with an audit a crime — A California lawmaker wants to make intentionally interfering with an audit a crime after a controversial audit on the University of California. Democratic Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi of the Los Angeles area said Tuesday he does not yet have details on how his bill would be enforced. AP article; LA Times article

Technical amendments: Below the radar, but critical — Lawmakers often alter bills as the measures move through committees and floor votes — it’s part of life in the Capitol. A legislator’s beloved bill introduced in February may have little resemblance to the measure approved (or defeated) in August.  Capitol Weekly article

Taxes and warning labels on drinks still, under pressure from industry — The California restaurant and beverage industries have successfully opposed two high-profile bills in the state Legislature this month. The bills would have added warning labels to sodas and taxes to hard liquor. Capital Public Radio report 

Undere-18 marriage ban weakens after ACLU opposes — A watered-down version of a bill that originally sought to ban marriage for people under 18 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. After facing opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and some lawmakers, Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, altered the bill to remove the prohibition and instead call for more stringent judicial screening of child brides and grooms. Sacramento Bee article

Sessions to toughen rules on prosecuting drug crimes — Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to soon toughen rules on prosecuting drug crimes, according to people familiar with internal deliberations, in what would be a major rollback of Obama-era policies that would put his first big stamp on a Justice Department he has criticized as soft on crime. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey throw Russia probe into chaos — President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, the White House said Tuesday. “The president has accepted the recommendation of the Attorney General and the deputy Attorney General regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” Sean Spicer told reporters at the White House. The move is effective immediately. The FBI’s deputy is the acting director. McClatchy Newspapers article; New York Times article

Sacramento Bee: Trump firing Comey reinforces need for special prosecutor to investigate Russia ties — Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is not normal. A special prosecutor must be appointed to examine Russian ties to Trump’s campaign. Sacramento Bee editorial

Trump urged Comey to go after Clinton – and then fired him for it – Trump had nothing but kind words for Comey when he revealed 11 days before the election that the investigation had been relaunched. But he eventually fired him. LA Times article 

White House staff scrambled to explain the bombshell news – White House press secretary Sean Spicer wrapped up his brief interview with Fox Business from the White House grounds late Tuesday night and then disappeared into the shadows, huddling with his staff behind a tall hedge. To get back to his office, Spicer would have to pass a swarm of reporters wanting to know why President Trump suddenly decided to fire the FBI directorWashington Post article

What California representatives say about Trump firing Comey — KQED checked all of the social media accounts of California’s congressional delegation. Here are the responses we have found so far. KQED report; ‘Feinstein, Harris reactions to Comey firing a study in contrasts’ in KQED

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories

How will Modesto approach legal marijuana? It’s a taxing issue for councilmembers — Modesto has not yet decided whether to allow marijuana businesses in the city, what types, how many, and where to put them. And the city has not decided whether it will work with Stanislaus County on a uniform approach to regulating and taxing marijuana. But none of that has stopped Modesto from moving forward with putting its own marijuana tax on the November ballot. Modesto Bee article

Stockton adopts risk fund, ‘guiding principles’ for addressing homelessness — Bill Mendelson has been attending City Council meetings for the past three decades to advocate for Stockton’s homeless residents, and by his own account he says he has never felt quite as optimistic he does right now. Mendelson, 68, made the comment during a Tuesday night meeting in which the City Council unanimously adopted five “guiding principles” for addressing homelessness. The council also established a $50,000 fund to reduce the risk landlords take when renting to the portion of the homeless population that includes veterans and the chronically homeless. Stockton Record article

Jobs and the Economy

Kern supervisors delay impasse with sheriff’s deputies — Supervisors, bowing to a passionate group of law enforcement officers, voted Tuesday to delay a vote on an impasse in contract negotiations with deputies until June 6. Supervisor Mike Maggard said the county’s financial situation is perilous and all county departments need to figure out how to operate under the current conditions. Bakersfield Californian article 

CoreLogic: Valley foreclosure, late mortgage rates lower in February – Central Valley foreclosure and mortgage delinquency rates continued their downward trend in February, according to the latest data from real estate information firm CoreLogic. The Business Journal article

California’s ‘Vietnam era’ pay system delaying state worker wage hikes, union says – State maintenance workers who last saw a bump in their paychecks almost two years ago are nudging Gov. Jerry Brown to move faster in doling out wage increases that are due to them in a contract they approved four months ago. Sacramento Bee article

Who will Merced County supervisors choose for defense contract? – In the coming weeks, Merced County supervisors will choose either to maintain a years-old relationship or start a new one with a contract for criminal defense services. While the Public Defender’s Office represents suspects who cannot afford to hire private attorneys, cases are referred to outside attorneys when the county public defenders have a potential conflict of interest, such as representing a co-defendant in a case. Merced Sun-Star article 

Peak city: San Francisco, Oakland populations reach all-time high — If San Francisco and Oakland feel more crowded than ever, the numbers back you up. According to a newly-released population report by the California Department of Finance, the two cities have more people living in them than they’ve ever had before. San Francisco now has 874,227 people, up by 9,000 residents from 2016’s population count. Oakland has a population of 426,000, gaining 7,000 people from last year. San Francisco Chronicle article

Fox Theater looking to add bistro to building complex – The Fox Foundation, which owns and operates the theater, is officially accepting bids to turn an empty storefront on the H Street side of the theater’s property into a restaurant, most likely a bistro. It’s still early in the planning stages but Melanie Farmer, the foundation’s president, said she hopes it could be ready by the end of the year, though that would depend on whomever gets the bid. Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento has drafted the ‘quarterback’ for its commercial marijuana team – California’s capital city has hired its first commercial cannabis czar. Joe Devlin, 39, a former chief of staff for City Council member Jay Schenirer, recently was appointed Sacramento’s chief of cannabis policy and enforcement. Sacramento Bee article

Grammys head to New York after 14 years in LA — The 2018 Grammy Awards will take place in New York — a move that will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the event, Recording Academy officials unveiled Tuesday. LA Times article


Oh, well. California water info can remain secret, court rules – Crucial details about the location and depth of certain California water wells can be kept secret, and out of the hands of an environmental group, a top federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article

Don Peracchi: When feds dilly-dally on water, our ag economy takes a hit – The board president of Westlands Water District writes, “After three years of virtually no water deliveries, the Bureau of Reclamation’s 100% allocation for south-of-Delta agricultural water service contractors was a relief. But even in a year when Reclamation could allocate 100%, the process that resulted in that allocation illustrates there are fundamental problems with the regulatory constraints that restrict Central Valley Project operations.” Peracchi op-ed in Fresno Bee

Oakhurst’s water is radioactive, but cleanup is right around the corner — Out of all the non-compliant water systems in the state, a handful in the Madera County foothills have tested the highest for uranium. But they’ve also got a solution right around the corner. Valley Public Radio report 

Snowmelt triggers a flood warning in Yosemite and a river closure in Central Valley — The melting of this year’s record snowpack is continuing to create problems, with authorities warning of more flooding in Yosemite National Park and fast-moving, high water at a popular Central Valley river. LA Times article; Fresno Bee article

Lois Henry: The future of our water, gray and otherwise, is in good hands — When a friend asked if I’d like to meet a group of teenage boys who A) had read “The Big Thirst” and B) were inspired to engineer a water reclamation process because of what they’d read, you KNOW what my answer was. I was honored on Tuesday to meet Michael Dauterive, Brendan Dishman and Jordan Reimer, all 17-year-old Centennial High School students. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Mayors: California not operating damaged dam safely – California is putting communities downstream in danger of flooding with the way it runs the now-crippled Oroville Dam, mayors and county leaders wrote this week in a strongly worded letter to Gov. Jerry Brown. AP article

Sacramento Bee: Dithering must end in California’s too-long desalination debate — At nearly 20 years, the debate over Poseidon Water’s proposed coastal desalination plant in Huntington Beach has taken far too long. Sacramento Bee editorial

New Valley PBS documentary miniseries looks at water in California’s Central Valley — Earlier this month Valley PBS launched a documentary miniseries called “Tapped Out: The History and Battle over Water in California’s San Joaquin Valley.”  The four-part series examine the history of water in California. Each episode delves into a different part of the history and future of water in the region and includes the voices of farmers, water leaders and environmentalists. Valley Public Radio report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Kern deputies accept plea deals in drug, corruption investigation — A drug and corruption investigation that has rocked Kern County area law enforcement for the last two years has grown into a new stage. Valley Public Radio report

Crooks who attack police face prosecution in this DA’s office — Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward was at a public event when he saw a deputy sheriff with his arm in a sling and asked what had happened. A suspect had attacked him and dislocated his shoulder, the deputy told him. That’s when Ward decided he wanted to do more to protect officers from attacks by suspects. Fresno Bee article

Mother disputes sheriff’s account of rock assault that led deputies to shoot her son — The man shot and killed by deputies Monday night after he allegedly hit an officer with a large rock in Rancho Cordova has been identified by the Sacramento County Coroner’s Office and friends as Mikel Laney McIntyre, a 32-year-old Uber driver and former Major League Baseball prospect originally from Antioch. Sacramento Bee article 

Typically Merced traffic officers write parking tickets. This one saved a man’s life — Residents are not always happy to see a “meter maid,” but one Merced parking enforcement officer is being credited with saving a man’s life, police said on Tuesday. Merced Sun-Star article

30 cows were stranded and starving. Good thing Merced’s sheriff is a real cowboy — Merced County’s most well-known cowboy strapped on his boots Monday and flew out to one of the most remote areas of the county to feed a hungry herd of stranded cows. Sheriff Vern Warnke worked with Merced County’s Office of Emergency Services to drop two tons of hay to a herd of about 30 cows who are stranded on an island near Hopeton because of flooding from the Merced River. Merced Sun-Star article

California police scramble to detect drugged driving — Police across California are scrambling to keep up by increasing training as they prepare to spot drug-impaired drivers. Their task is made more difficult because there is no presumed level of intoxication in California, unlike the 0.08 percent blood level for alcohol, and drugs affect everyone differently. AP article


UC audit reveals president’s office has extravagant taste — University of California President Janet Napolitano’s office spent more than $4,000 on one employee’s retirement party and thousands more on other going-away, staff-appreciation and holiday parties, perks that are not typically seen in the public sector and that raise questions about lavish spending practices as the university increases tuition and fees on students. San Francisco Chronicle article

‘Napolitano is not worthy of the public’s trust’: Lawmaker calls on UC president to resign – Prompted by a massive state audit that found misleading budgeting practices and extravagant spending in the University of California’s central administration, one lawmaker is demanding the resignation of UC President Janet Napolitano. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Fresno Unified in trouble for spending money meant for at-risk students on police, bathrooms — The California Department of Education is demanding that Fresno Unified revise its school spending plan after the district used state money meant for poor, minority students to pay for police programs and bathroom renovations, among other things. Fresno Bee article

If new law passes, this acclaimed tech high school won’t need five-year renewals — Facing a July 1 deadline, state legislation has been written that will allow the Center for Advanced Research and Technology to operate on a permanent basis. The joint Fresno Unified and Clovis Unified career technical educational center at Santa Ana and Clovis avenues has been required under the state Education Code to get support legislation every five years to continue operating. Fresno Bee article

Nan Austin: Teachers sign on for tech training with an old-school twist — ednesday is the California Day of the Teacher, part of the PTA Teacher Appreciation Week, when parents and officials take a beat to honor all teachers do. The largest teacher union in the state, the California Teachers Association, will kick off an ad campaign calling attention to schools’ role in building communities. But in Stanislaus County, teachers deserve an extra thanks for taking the initiative to update their tech skills through a cutting-edge program with an old-school incentive: badges. Austin in Modesto Bee

New Tulare preschool ‘builds a bridge for future generations’ — Grandma’s House has been a staple in the Tulare community since 2008. Located in a 100-year-old historical home on Blackstone Street, the organization started out as an after-school tutoring facility. But Flora Johnson, founder, had bigger dreams for the site. Visalia Times-Delta article

LA Unified is making it harder for immigration officials to enter schools – The Los Angeles school board on Tuesday unanimously approved a set of policies that board members said would provide families with a higher level of protection from federal immigration raids. LA Times article

CSU officials: Remedial education reform will change lives and not ‘dumb down’ classes — Loren J. Blanchard and James T. Minor are at the heart of efforts to reform how students get remedial help throughout the California State University system’s 23 campuses. The goal is to replace the noncredit remedial classes with ones that offer degree credit while bringing students up to speed academically, according to Blanchard, who is CSU’s executive vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, and Minor, who is the system’s senior strategist for Academic Success. Such changes, they say, are a crucial part of the university’s $450 million plan to sharply improve graduation rates by 2025 from the current systemwide average of just 20 percent of incoming freshmen finishing in four years and 57 percent in six years. EdSource article 

UC revises its plans to limit the share of spots going to out-of-state students — The University of California, aiming to end fighting over how many out-of-state students it admits, on Tuesday announced a revised proposal to limit non-Californian and international undergraduates.  LA Times article

Some smaller districts enroll younger 4-year-olds in early kindergarten — In a tangible demonstration of their belief in the importance of early education, a few of California’s smaller school districts are offering an extra year of kindergarten to 4-year-olds, and paying for it without any direct support from the state. EdSource article

Cynthia Sarratt: Our habit of ‘social promotion’ hurts middle schoolers – The Bakersfield resident and middle school teacher writes, “Why do we give 12- and 13-year-old children the power to do nothing and still receive ‘a pass’ to a higher level of learning for which they are not prepared? Do we realize the message we are sending? Eighth grade is now seen as a period of just marking time. Graduating from eighth grade is no longer seen as an accomplishment; it is now an entitlement.” Sarratt op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

How does Ripon garden grow? With care, amazement, patience – all in a row — Chubby fingers closed around the bright stem of a rainbow chard. Blunted scissors cut awkwardly into the bright green leaf, each tiny triangle placed methodically into an orange bucket. Oliver Fernandes, 4, approached the harvest with solemn purpose. It took older hands to fill the bucket, but his contribution would help feed the hungry. Modesto Bee article


Air quality improves, but Sacramento still among nation’s most polluted cities — Despite improvements in pollution levels, the Sacramento area remains eighth in the nation for unhealthy air, according to the latest American Lung Association report. Sacramento joins Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Fresno and Modesto in the top 10 for worst ozone pollution. Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

High-risk pools have been tried in California before.  Did they work? — California’s Republican congressmen were crucial to getting the American Health Care Act passed through the U.S. House of Representatives last week. One change to that bill was key in getting the support of at least one of those congressman: additional money for something known as ‘high-risk pools’. However, they are not a new idea in health care and in fact have been tried before right here in the Golden State. California’s experience could help inform how the policy might work if it becomes law, and the challenges it could face. Valley Public Radio report

Land Use/Housing

It’s a go for Hustler’s sexy shop in a sweet location after settling lawsuit against Fresno — Hustler Hollywood’s plans to develop a boutique to sell merchandise and material carrying the adult magazine’s brand are back on track after a settlement of the company’s federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Fresno. The city agreed to pay $15,000 to Hustler Hollywood for the company’s attorney fees. Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield board approves permits for swap meet, new restaurant — Operators of a swap meet in the southeast and a new restaurant in the northwest gained city approvals for their projects. The Bakersfield Board of Zoning Adjustment on Tuesday unanimously approved permits for an indoor swap meet on Brundage Lane and for a future restaurant in River Run Plaza to serve alcohol. Bakersfield Californian article


Valley survey finds bullet train support — A recent survey of San Joaquin Valley opinions on high-speed rail found a majority of respondents supporting the project. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they support continued construction of the high-speed rail project, while 35 percent said they want the project to be scrapped. Hanford Sentinel article

Goodbye, historic bridge; study calls for standard replacement of 7th Street span — The project to replace the historic Seventh Street Bridge is headed for a final hurdle later this month. A final environmental study recommends an option to tear down Modesto’s iconic “Lion Bridge” and replace it with a standard bridge on the same alignment. Modesto Bee article

Why new deal could bring more flights to Sacramento airport — Sacramento International Airport officials announced a deal Tuesday with airlines that will give the airport more financial stability in tough times, but reduce the sky-high rents the airport has been charging airlines to help pay for Sacramento’s billion-dollar 2011 facility expansion. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Atwater city manager candidate steps down, citing ‘conflicts’ and ‘distractions’ — One of two candidates for the Atwater city manager’s job dropped out of consideration Monday, saying a series of “conflicts” and “distractions” have surfaced in recent weeks that a “keeping the council from working on the serious issues the city is facing.” Merced Sun-Star article

Hanford cracking down on fireworks – In an effort to crack down on illegal fireworks, authorities in Hanford are close to adopting a rule pressuring property owners to ensure that illegal fireworks aren’t launched from their land. Hanford Sentinel article

Richard Johanson: ‘Isn’t it time to say Good Morning America to each other again?’ – The former Marine and chair emeritus of the Fresno Business Council writes, “One of the often unspoken rewards of being a Marine Corps veteran of World War II is to strive to help ensure that the ultimate sacrifices made by all of those who have served our nation were not made in vain. At the same time, one of my great sorrows is realizing how far short we have fallen from attaining some of these dreams.” Johanson op-ed in Fresno Bee

Could Visalia take over Mooney Grove? — Tulare County oversees 10 parks including Mooney Grove and Cutler parks that are within Visalia’s city limits. During the discussion, councilman Greg Collins proposed the city take over Cutler and Mooney Grove parks. Visalia Times-Delta article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Sen. Dianne Feinstein seeks to end the EB-5 visa, which awards green cards to wealthy foreigners. Jared Kushner’s sister illustrates the program’s problems; Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey is not normal. A special prosecutor must be appointed to examine Russian ties to Trump’s campaign.

Merced Sun-Star – Sen. Dianne Feinstein seeks to end the EB-5 visa, which awards green cards to wealthy foreigners who invest in the U.S. Jared Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, illustrated the problem with it.

Modesto Bee – Sen. Dianne Feinstein seeks to end the EB-5 visa, which awards green cards to wealthy foreigners who invest in the U.S. Jared Kushner’s sister, Nicole Kushner Meyer, illustrated the problem with it.

Sacramento Bee –- Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is not normal. A special prosecutor must be appointed to examine Russian ties to Trump’s campaign; By releasing his tax returns, California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom proves to voters that he is serious about public disclosure. Other candidates need to do the same; At nearly 20 years, the debate over Poseidon Water’s proposed coastal desalination plant in Huntington Beach has taken far too long.