December 15, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Jerry Brown strikes defiant tone: ‘We will launch its own damn satellite’ — Gov. Jerry Brown, rallying a room of scientists Wednesday with his most heated rhetoric yet on the topic, suggested California would defy the federal government should President-elect Donald Trump impede the state’s efforts to thwart climate change. Sacramento Bee articleKQED reportLA Times article

GOP’s Swearengin won’t run for California governor. Might Peter Thiel – Some politicians leave wiggle room when they say they won’t run. Not Ashley Swearengin. “I am firmly not planning to run” for California governor in 2018, the outgoing mayor of Fresno told reporters Wednesday in Sacramento. Swearengin’s decision to pass up the race raises the question of whether the GOP can recruit a competitive candidate. Capital Public Radio report

George Skelton: Everyone is at odds over Gov. Brown’s delta tunnels plan – here’s a compromise that could stop the fighting — The state pegs the tab at $15.5 billion. But it’s double that when borrowing costs are added. Water users — homeowners, farmers — would pay through their monthly bills. Fortunately there are think tanks. One of them thought about the tunnels and suggested a solution so simple that all the warriors should be embarrassed. Build just one tunnel, it advised. The nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California came up with that non-rocket science concept, calling it “a grand compromise.” Skelton column in LA Times

Gov. Brown

Jerry Brown’s state building strategy needs scrutiny, analyst advises — California risks embarking on a flawed and potentially costly Sacramento-area state office building strategy, the Legislature’s nonpartisan fiscal analyst warned in a report Tuesday, calling for more legislative scrutiny of the estimated $3 billion effort. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

New Bakersfield council members, one longtime one, take oath — wo new faces, and one as familiar as you’re ever going to see, were sworn in as Bakersfield city council members Wednesday. Andrae Gonzales officially became the representative for downtown, Oleander and Alta Vista; Jeff Tkac for part of the southwest; and Jacquie Sullivan, Bakersfield’s longest-serving council member, for another swath of the southwest. Bakersfield Californian article

Special election nears to recall Oakdale Irrigation District’s Linda Santos — Linda Santos will face recall from the Oakdale Irrigation District board in a special election that could occur April 25. Modesto Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Gavin Newsom praises Ashley Swearengin; learns she won’t challenge him for governor — During a panel discussion Wednesday at the California Economic Summit in Sacramento, Newsom, a declared 2018 candidate for governor, called Swearengin’s leadership “remarkable” and characterized her as “one of the most extraordinary leaders in California.” Newsom added, “It’s not lost on me she may be running against me for governor. So I say that lovingly.” After the event, Swearengin, the incoming president and chief executive of the Central Valley Community Foundation, said she has no interest in the governorship, despite being held up as one of her party’s few rising stars who could compete statewide. Sacramento Bee article

Assembly Republican Leader doesn’t believe there is widespread voter fraud in California — Contradicting claims made by President-elect Donald Trump, the state Assembly’s top Republican said Wednesday that he doesn’t believe there was rampant voter fraud in California on Nov. 8. LA Times article

Other areas

Symbolic, superstitious or silly – legislators scramble for bill numbers — As the Legislature opened a new two-year session this month, staffers lined up before 9 a.m. to hand freshly-written bills to the clerk, who assigns them an all important number. Whether a bill lives or dies won’t be known for many months, but the work to nab the right bill number starts the minute the session opens. CALmatters article

Court Oks waiting period for existing California gun owners — California’s policy of withholding weapons for 10 days from buyers who previously purchased a gun and cleared a background check before the state’s waiting period is a reasonable safety precaution that does not violate the Second Amendment, a federal appeals court said Wednesday. AP article

Presidential Politics

CIA refuses House intel committee request for briefing on Russia hacking probe — Capitol Hill tensions over handling of the alleged Russian cyber-hacking scandal boiled over late Wednesday, as the chairman of the House intelligence panel blasted U.S. spy agency officials for declining to brief the committee this week. McClatchy Newspapers article

News Stories – Top Stories

Back wage measure for farm workers challenged – A law that would have settled disputes between growers and farmworkers over lost wages could come unraveled, after two fruit growers persuaded a federal court to review whether it is constitutional. LA Times article

 ‘Lying,’ ‘name calling,’ ‘bullying’: Allegations fly as 2-day-old Atwater council calls for emergency meeting – Hostility and dissension on the two-day old Atwater City Council emerged Wednesday, with three members calling an emergency meeting at city hall Thursday to discuss the contract for the incoming interim city manager as well other items. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

Raiders choices for new home continue to narrow — In a meeting in Irving, Texas, today, NFL owners ratified the concept in principle of a union of the Chargers and Rams sharing a single Los Angeles-area stadium in Inglewood. And that means the choices for the Raiders – who last year were pitching their own L.A. plan – continue to narrow. East Bay Times article

Fed raises key interest rate and foresees 3 hikes in 2017 – The Federal Reserve has raised a key interest rate in response to a strengthening U.S. economy and expectations of higher inflation, and it foresees three more rate hikes in 2017. The Fed’s move will mean modestly higher rates on some loans. AP article

Yahoo’s new billion-account data breach could threaten $4.8 billion sale to Verizon – Yahoo on Wednesday said it had discovered a new data breach of more than a billion accounts, dwarfing the hack it revealed three months ago and threatening the company’s $4.8 billion sale to Verizon. San Jose Mercury News article

Visiting Downtown Disney? You have to go through metal detectors from now on — The metal detectors that were added at the Disneyland resort last year are being moved Thursday so they can be used to also screen visitors to Disney’s adjacent shopping district. LA Times article

Zoo authority agrees to pay final bill to contractor for Africa project — The Fresno County Zoo Authority voted to release more than $2 million to the African Adventure exhibit contractor that had been held up by Fresno Chaffee Zoo Corp., which said it was awaiting completion of certain projects. Fresno Bee article

California PUC boosting Sacramento staff, aiming for better relations — Facing tough scrutiny from lawmakers, the state’s energy regulator plans to ramp up its presence in Sacramento by filling out a new office on Capitol Mall with dozens of new workers. Sacramento Bee article


River flow hearing will resume in Stockton — Water suppliers from the Stanislaus River will get their turn Friday to rebut a proposal to devote more water to fish. Modesto Bee article

Katherine Miller and Chuck Winn: Tell Water Resources Board no on increased river flow proposal – The San Joaquin County supervisors write, “Delta stakeholders agree that a comprehensive statewide water plan to enhance the health of Delta is necessary. California will never solve its water crisis until the governor and his officials stop pitting one part of the State against another.” Miller/Winn op-ed in Stockton Record

Nation’s largest water recycling plant expands in Orange County — The Orange County Water District is leading the nation in wastewater treatment to replenish groundwater supplies — and that project is expanding now, designed to eventually supply water to 2.4 million people, about 40 percent of all water needed in Orange County. KQED report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Family demands federal investigation after Bakersfield police kill 73-year-old man — The family of an unarmed 73-year-old man who was killed by a Bakersfield police officer is demanding state and federal investigations into the shooting. LA Times articleKVPR report

Two years after Prop 47, addicts walk free with nowhere to go – Two years after it was approved by California voters, Prop 47 has scaled back mass incarceration of drug addicts, but successful reform is woefully incomplete. Proponents celebrate how the law freed at least 13,500 inmates like Lopez from harsh sentences in crowded prisons and jails, but Prop 47 has done little to help these people restart their lives. USA TODAY articleUSA TODAY: ‘Former felons find new jobs and new hope after Prop 47’USA TODAY: ‘Nearly 200,000 felonies erased by Prop 47, but some former felons don’t know’

Drug busts drop as cops question if they’re worth it — Cops can still jail anyone caught with meth, heroin or cocaine, but because many counties don’t have enough jail space to hold misdemeanor suspects, addicts are often released later that same day, neither punished nor rehabilitated. USA TODAY article

Jeff Jardine: Stanislaus County listed 13th statewide in registered sex offenders – Earlier this week, the latest list listed Stanislaus County at No. 13 among the state’s 58 counties based upon their numbers of registered sex offenders. Los Angeles ranked No. 1 with 12,400. Alpine County ranked 58th with one, who lives in the tiny eastern Sierra community of Woodfords. Stanislaus, the survey said, has 958. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Deputy shot man in Tehachapi he believed was armed, sheriff’s officials say – A Kern County sheriff’s deputy shot an unarmed man in Tehachapi over the weekend after the man resisted arrest and reached toward his waist as if he had a gun, sheriff’s officials said.  Bakersfield Californian article

Lyle Martin sworn in as new Bakersfield Police Department chief — Lyle Martin was sworn in Wednesday as chief of the Bakersfield Police Department in a ceremony congratulating him on his leadership qualities and the work the department has accomplished over the years, but also touching on controversies involving recent police shootings. Bakersfield Californian article


Fresno Unified: Hanson’s biggest critic named school board president – Two days after Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson announced he will step down, trustee Brooke Ashjian – one of his biggest critics – was named school board president. Fresno Bee article

Calls for a fresh start come after Merced College names new president – Chris Vitelli, Merced College’s vice president of student services, has been named as the next president of the school, capping a troubled year at the college that has been colored by internal disputes and unanswered questions about the departure of its last leader. Merced Sun-Star article

Student by student, Lindsay schools erase digital divide — As we approach 2017, smartphones and Wi-Fi networks may seem practically universal. But even now, there remains a digital divide—and many San Joaquin Valley residents find themselves on the side without internet access. A new community effort, though, is bridging that divide, in what may seem an unlikely place. KVPR report

Recount for Los Banos school board seat set for Friday – The heated Los Banos school board Area 4 race between incumbent Dominic Falasco and challenger Gary Munoz isn’t over. Merced Sun-Star article

Alvin Sandrini: The numbers of the real teacher shortage – The former superintendent of the Norris School District writes, “In the end, the letter writer suggested ‘you’ll have to be a little bit more convincing before I believe there is a teacher shortage.’ I’m not sure this additional data is convincing but I’m convinced the teacher shortage exists and that it is exacerbated in rural communities throughout California. Even though we live in the ninth largest city in the state, we continue to be considered rural.” Sandrini op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Hundreds vie for UC Davis top job — Hundreds of people have applied to be the next chancellor of UC Davis. The search advisory committee has reviewed approximately 525 candidates, some who applied for the job and some who were recommended or identified by the search committee, according to UC Davis. Sacramento Bee article

Visalia Unified to welcome 21st century charter school – Visalia Unified School District will add a new school to its growing list. The district board of trustees recently approved the creation of a new dependent charter school – Global Learning Charter School – to open next fall. The school will fall under VUSD’s guideline, rather than independent. Visalia Times-Delta article

Former Fresno sheriff’s captain Jose Flores named police chief at Fresno City College – Jose Flores, a former Fresno County sheriff’s captain and a current member of the Clovis City Council, is the new police chief at Fresno City College, it was announced Wednesday. Fresno Bee article

Local college professors are on website list of those who ‘advance leftist propaganda’ — Orange Coast College professor Olga Perez Stable Cox, whose recorded in-class comments critical of President-elect Donald Trump have drawn national attention, is one of more than 120 instructors named on — a website that says it identifies professors “who discriminate against conservative students and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.” LA Times article


Solar installations reach record high in the third quarter – Solar energy continued its bullish growth across the United States in the three months ended Sept. 30 with a record number of installations for a single quarter. LA Times article

California adopts nation’s first energy-efficiency standards for computers, monitors – The California Energy Commission on Wednesday voted to adopt the nation’s first energy-efficiency standards for computers and monitors sold in the state. Sacramento Bee article

California utilities want to charge your electric car, boost stagnant power demand – Electric utilities have an existential problem. The demand for electricity is not growing like it used to, dampening the need for new power plants, power lines and other infrastructure that drive their profits. Capital Public Radio report

CPUC considering modifications to San Onofre nuclear deal — In a ruling made just before the close of business hours Tuesday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) directed Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric to meet with groups critical of a 2014 agreement that calls on utility ratepayers to shoulder about 70 percent of the costs from shutting down the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

How many Californians could be affected by Obamacare repeal? — An examination of data from the state agencies that administer Obamacare in California showed that as of July, over 5 million Californians — about 12.9 percent of the state’s population — had coverage they could lose if the main pillars of the federal law were scrapped. Health care advocates say the high number of Californians with publicly-funded health care shows there are a lot of low-income people in the state. KPCC report

People who live in public housing would be banned from smoking and vaping in their homes under new bill — Residents of government housing would be barred from smoking and using electronic cigarettes inside their residential units and within 25 feet of buildings under legislation introduced by Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg). LA Times article

Land Use/Housing

San Joaquin County supervisors march toward 2035 with newly adopted General Plan – After six years of research and updates, The San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved the 2035 General Plan, which will present a new vision for the county’s future in terms of land use, development and preservation over the next 20 years. Stockton Record article

Heated debate over mental health center in Visalia — Despite strong objection, Tulare County supervisors unanimously approved the $1.2 million purchase of a southeast Visalia property with the intention of opening a mental health center. Visalia Times-Delta article

Cities try to protect tenants while cracking down on illegal warehouse housing —  As officials vow to crack down on illegally converted warehouses in the wake of the deadly Ghost Ship fire, there has been pushback from some tenants and housing rights activists who fear the effort will end up leaving low-income tenants on the streets. LA Times article


 California motorists said to have it worse than motorists in other 49 states — Who has it worse than California motorists? No one, according to a new study released by The New York-based consumer financial services company evaluated such factors as commute time, annual insurance premiums, gas expenses, cost of car repairs, car thefts and auto fatalities. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Kevin Valine: Modesto council members meet in closed session to discuss one of their own – It must have been a little odd for City Council members Tuesday as they met in closed session to discuss one of their own – Councilman Doug Ridenour. Ridenour has several workers’ compensation cases against the city from his time with the Modesto Police Department. Ridenour, 65, retired from the department in 2013 as a sergeant and was elected to the council in November 2015. He did not take part in the closed-session discussion. Valine in Modesto Bee

Joe Mathews: Why it’s in California’s best interest to save Spanish – Due to the realities of immigration and language, there are signs that the Spanish language is already declining, which is why Californians should act now to preserve it. If we preserve Spanish here as it fades elsewhere, we’ll have a comparative advantage over the rest of the country. Mathews in Sacramento Bee

Valley Oak SPCA – in the midst of great uncertainty – The Valley Oak SPCA holds on to hope as tension builds and the city of Visalia holds the shelter’s future in its hands. As a nonprofit organization and recently designated no-kill shelter, Valley Oak SPCA is accustomed to overcoming adversity. After serving the Valley for 25 years, they are fighting hard to stay alive, but may have to temporarily close its doors. Visalia Times-Delta article

Much-loved TBC photographer given key to the city — Casey Christie did not want me to write this story. After more than 30 astonishing years at The Bakersfield Californian, the veteran photojournalist will retire before the year’s end. And he’d just as soon go quietly, without fanfare, without anyone making a big fuss over him. Bakersfield Californian article

 Valley Editorial Roundup

Modesto Bee – What’s more popular in Stanislaus County than marijuana? More widely embraced than Hillary Clinton? Got more votes than winners Jeff Denham and Adam Gray combined? Asphalt. Looking at the final Nov. 8 ballot results, we were surprised that Measure L won so handily.

Sacramento Bee –- On his first day, Darrell Steinberg carried out the basic promise of his campaign by focusing on the needs of the people who make up this city, and collaborating. It’s how he will become a strong mayor, whether or not the city’s charter is changed; President Obama should save offshore drilling on the West Coast, and fast.