April 11, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories 

State lawmakers have spent a lot of time on professional sports stadiums – and they have little to show for it — With the Raiders deciding to leave Oakland for a $1.9-billion football stadium in Las Vegas, the carousel of moves and threats to move by California’s professional sports teams appears to be slowing down. So too does all the action in the state Legislature designed to help build new stadiums.  LA Times article 

Will Democrats get another supermajority vote that could raise gas prices? – It’s an open question whether cap and trade can survive a bruising political battle and the likelihood of tacking on more to the price of gas. KQED report

State budget

California tax collections proved better than expected in March — California tax collections proved better than expected in March, but the state Controller is counseling caution. You have to step back to look at the broader budget picture. State Controller Betty Yee says the monthly revenue numbers tend to fluctuate. The state is now more than half a billion dollars behind last summer’s budget estimates, but still a bit better than revised predictions from January. And Yee says this month’s tax filing deadline will be crucial. Capital Public Radio report 

Valley politics 

Election fraud cases against Drain, Fant moving forward — One election fraud trial of a former Manteca Unified school board member is racing toward a conclusion but a second, linked case remains months from being heard by a jury. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Anti-pot group faces campaign finance violations from its work opposing legalizing marijuana in California — A national anti-marijuana coalition is facing $6,000 in fines for campaign finance violations in its opposition to Proposition, 64, a November ballot measure that legalized recreational use of cannabis in California. LA Times article


Trump’s border wall will get its start in San Diego County – President Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico will kick off in the San Diego border community of Otay Mesa, U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed Monday. LA Times article 

California bill would bar state from contracting companies that build Trump’s wall –  A California state senator plans to introduce a bill this week to prohibit the state from contracting with any person or company that helps build President Trump’s border wall. KPBS report 

California moves to become ‘sanctuary state,’ and others move to follow – A 42-year-old immigrant was on her way to church in Mendota, a small city in California’s Central Valley, one afternoon last month when the police stopped her because the tinted windows on her 2006 Nissan were too dark. What happened next says much about the growing conflict between states like California and the Trump administration. New York Times article 

California leaders to Sessions and Kelly: Legislature ‘will use all available means’ to defend state policies — California state leaders are asking U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly to identify the state’s statutes or ordinances that they perceive as designed to prohibit or obstruct the enforcement of federal immigration law. LA Times article 

Immigration enforcement under Trump: Is there reason for the fear? — Protesters rallied in downtown Los Angeles last month in support of 48-year-old Romulo Avelica Gonzalez, a father of four who immigration officials arrested in February. Federal agents pulled him over in Highland Park, about six blocks from where he had taken one of his daughters to school, and while on the way to drop off another daughter. KPPC report

Other areas 

With Supreme Court back at full strength, 2nd Amendment, religious liberty cases await – The swearing-in of Justice Neil M. Gorsuch on Monday restores the Supreme Court to full strength for the first time in nearly 14 months and sets the stage for further conservative victories that could start accumulating quickly. McClatchy Newspapers article 

Embattled tax board of take on legal, leadership issues — Potential lawsuits and leadership changes are on the agenda for a special meeting that a California tax board called shortly after it faced tough questions from lawmakers over a recent audit of its spending. Sacramento Bee article 

Joel Fox: Courts jump on revenue-raising bandwagon – Tax and revenue increases are piling up on Californians–passed by voters, approved by legislators, and now the courts are getting into the act. Fox in Fox & Hounds 

North Fresno protest calls for peace amid Yemen, Syria conflicts — A protest in north Fresno on Monday evening was originally planned as a chance for activists to demonstrate their support of Yemen as famine continues there amid an ongoing civil war. Fresno Bee article 

Presidential Politics

California farmers in the crosshairs – California’s farmers are getting nervous — understandably. The Trump administration wants to slash the budget of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cutting one out of every five dollars of the department’s discretionary spending. Capitol Weekly article 

What’s at stake in Trump’s proposed EPA budget cuts — What is at stake as Congress considers the E.P.A. budget? Far more than climate change. The Trump administration’s proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency budget are deep and wide-ranging. It seeks to shrink spending by 31 percent, to $5.7 billion from $8.1 billion, and to eliminate a quarter of the agency’s 15,000 jobs. New York Times article

Trump’s promised announcement on labor law unnerves unions — President Donald Trump shocked organized labor by saying he would soon have an announcement to make about a law that guarantees wage levels for workers on most federally funded construction projects. And since then, the White House has declined to reveal his position publicly. McClatchy Newspapers article

News Stories

Top Stories

Fresno State vows to cooperate in any federal investigation of professor’s Trump tweets — Fresno State released a new statement on Monday regarding a professor’s comments that “Trump must hang” – vowing to cooperate in any potential federal investigation. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article; The Chronicle of Higher Education article 

State gas-tax increase promises passenger rail, jobs, smoother roads for Stanislaus, Merced – The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission will receive a $400 million appropriation from legislation approved last week to increase the state’s gasoline tax. Modesto Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Nick Ortiz, Linda Jay, Beatris Espericueta-Sanders, and Jay Tarsi: Well, now that the transportation tax has passed – Ortiz, president and CEO of the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce; Jay, CEO of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors; Espericueta-Sanders, executive director of the Kern County Farm Bureau; and Tarsi, president and CEO of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, write, “Implementation of the tax and fee increases will begin this November, and the negative impacts will begin to be felt across the state. Kern County’s businesses and families are going to be hit especially hard by the new tax and fee increases in Senate Bill 1.” Ortiz/Jay/Espericueta-Sanders/Tarsi op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

New Clovis council members to prioritize business growth – As fresh councilmembers, Mouanoutoua and Bessinger say they are ready to take on the challenge of leading a growing community, and as more and more residents move into Clovis neighborhoods, both councilmembers said it’s essential to attract new businesses to town that bring in revenue to support all the services residents have come to expect as part of the Clovis way of life. The Business Journal article 

Aerojet to eliminate 1,100 jobs, cease manufacturing, in Rancho Cordova – Rancho Cordova’s role as a hub of the aerospace industry will soon end. Aerojet Rocketdyne Inc. Monday said it will eliminate 1,100 of its 1,400 local jobs over the next two and a half years, and will shut down manufacturing operations. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article 

Barbara O’Connor: Bridging the digital divide is imperative for economic prosperity – The officer and director of the California Emerging Technology Fund writes, “Given the potential for technology to provide equality in access to information, services and participation in the democracy coupled with its power to transform lives for a better future and accelerate gains in economic prosperity, it is an imperative to close the digital divide for California’s future. We urge the Legislature and governor to immediately approve and expeditiously implement the Internet For All Now Act. O’Connor op-ed in Sacramento Bee 

Where grocery stores are sparse, one family farm nourishes a California town –A lot of people in the Sierra foothills town of North For start sentences with “used to be.” There used to be sawmill jobs. Used to be mining. Used to be a plaque that marked this as the exact center of California — until someone stole it last year. But so far, the Gnarly Carrot has escaped past tense. The organic market, which recently celebrated its first anniversary, has joined a farm and school garden as the latest step in one family’s attempt to change the local food supply. LA Times article 

Probe faults ex-Yosemite superintendent for style, but absolves him of gender bias — Federal investigators on Monday found fault with former Yosemite National Park Superintendent Don Neubacher’s management “style and behavior,” but concluded there was “no evidence” he acted out of bias or favoritism. McClatchy Newspapers article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

Why women won’t report sexual harassment — Women’s failure to report harassment is often used against them. They fear retaliation, and for good reason, research shows. New York Times article 

Michigan lender settles allegations it overcharged California borrowers– Mortgage lender and servicer United Shore Financial Services has agreed to pay at least $1.4 million to settle allegations it overcharged California borrowers for interest, a state regulator announced Monday. LA Times article


Oakdale Irrigation District loses contentious fallowing lawsuit – A judge slammed the Oakdale Irrigation District for trying to skirt state law in last year’s fallowing proposal. The district should have studied how shipping river water elsewhere might harm groundwater levels here, Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Roger Beauchesne said in a ruling issued nearly 11 weeks after hearing arguments at a one-day trial in January. Modesto Bee article 

Rain, storms put continuing pressure on 140 years of Sacramento weather marks – Sacramento has received the fourth-largest amount of rain for a season since record-keeping began 140 years ago – and there’s more coming this week. Sacramento Bee article

In drought years, this man promised to drill wells and never showed up. Now he’s in jail —  A Eureka man was arrested last week on a warrant alleging he collected money from Merced County residents for wells he never drilled at the peak of the drought. Merced Sun-Star article

Facing labor shortage, Ventura County farmers warm to federal visa program — For years, Leslie Leavens watched as the work crews in her Ventura County lemon orchard steadily shrank, leaving an untold number of fruit unharvested and rotting in the sun. “We used to have regular crews of 30 folks. Then it dwindled to 25 and 20, and in some cases, the crew sizes have been reduced to 15,” she said. Eventually, there weren’t enough people to pick all the lemons at harvest.  KPCC report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Jeff Jardine: Held to answer for murder, Carson case outcome will end one career or another – When defense attorney-turned-murder defendant Frank Carson left a Stanislaus County courtroom Monday morning, one of three scenarios would play out. Jardine column in Modesto Bee 

Can you run the Sacramento Police Department? City posts job listing – A leader who’s quick on their feet, cares about transparency and accountability and who can commit to addressing homelessness and mental health-related issues. Those are some of the attributes that Sacramento community members said they want in their new police chief. The job opening was just officially added to the city’s job website on Thursday, even though the former chief, Sam Somers Jr., retired in December. Sacramento Bee article 

In Santa Clara, predatory jail schemes flourished for years — The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department knew that illegal bail schemes were happening in its jails but failed to stop it. At least 30 inmates were involved, a KQED investigation has found.  KQED report

Controversial Pepsi add used San Francisco police logo without permission, city says — Lots of people were unhappy about the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad — including, it turns out, the San Francisco Police Department. In a “behind the scenes” video about the ad that was uploaded to Pepsi’s YouTube channel, the shot of Jenner handing the officer a Pepsi is shown from another angle. From there, you can see the emblem on his sleeve, which reads “San Francisco Police” and uses a facsimile of the department’s logo. LA Times article 

Caravan Against Fear fights back against aggressions, abuses — Leticia Soto was sexually abused 14 years ago while at her job. She was a janitor working late nights with little protection and the foreman in the building attacked her. Stockton Record article


Janet Young, Clovis Unified superintendent since 2011, to step down at school year’s end – Clovis Unified Superintendent Janet Young will retire at the end of the school year, ending a near 40-year stint with the district. Young, 63, has served as superintendent since 2011, and has held various administrative roles in the district since she was hired as a first-grade teacher at Tarpey Elementary School in 1979. Fresno Bee article 

Arvin donating land to college district, clearing way for satellite campus – The City of Arvin is donating more than 32 acres of land Thursday to the Kern Community College District, clearing the way for the district to build a satellite campus in the city, something community members have been rallying around for years. Bakersfield Californian article 

Javier Martinez and Larry Morse II: Restorative justice helps students, all of us – Martinez, principal of Le Grand High School, and Merced County District Attorney Morse write, “Restorative discipline is a research based technique for handling conflict, emphasizing accountability by addressing the harm caused by disruptive behavior and providing each party to a conflict the opportunity to listen and try to find collaborative solutions to prevent future disciplinary issues. By listening and learning more about what might be going on in a disruptive student’s home or personal life rather than simply responding with punishment, a student’s negative behavior can frequently be vastly improved.” Martinez/Morse op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

New York is offering free college.  How close is California to doing the same? – New York officially became the first U.S. state to cover public college tuition for middle-class students on Sunday. Could California follow suit? San Diego Union-Tribune article 

Patterson teens, superintendent take part in Chicago trade show – Patterson High logistics students got to take workshops and walk the exhibit floor of America’s largest material handling trade show at McCormick Place in Chicago, learning about careers in an industry driving the Patterson jobs market. Modesto Bee article 

San Bernardino shooting puts spotlight on school safety –In the wake of Monday’s fatal shooting at a San Bernardino elementary school, schools and security experts across California revisited campus safety protocols intended to keep students safe from gun violence.EdSource article

Kimberly Martinez-Melchor: Parking is no easy task for UC Merced – The UC Merced student writes, “According to UC Merced’s growth plan, the 2020 Project is expected to deliver 940 new parking spaces by fall 2018, and another 630 by fall 2020. It seems that parking is an issue that is slowly being addressed. However, until then, students continuously find themselves having to leave their houses earlier in order to find a decent parking spot, and make it to class on time.” Martinez-Melchor column in Merced Sun-Star 

Modesto Junior College students might ride city, county buses for free — Modesto Junior College students could take the bus to school for free through a program between the college and Modesto and Stanislaus County. Modesto Bee article 

Charter schools are expanding where they aren’t needed – especially in LA — Charter schools are proliferating where they aren’t needed while state funding continues to support even those charters that violate state law, according to a report released Monday by a research and advocacy group. LA Times article 


Bakersfield tree deaths surpass 3,000 – The number of trees the City of Bakersfield has had to remove due to drought and infestation has grown to more than 3,200, with another 692 on a list for removal. Bakersfield California article 

Solar hits big, brief milestone in California – For three hours on March 11, solar power met roughly half of all electricity demand across a big swath of California, according to a new estimate from the federal government. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Appeals court: Manteca Unified on hook for flood projects — The Manteca Unified School District must pay to fund local levee improvements, just like any other property owner in the area, an appeals court has found. Stockton Record article 

California likely to shorten Chinook salmon season — For the second year in a row, California officials are likely to shorten the chinook salmon season, making the local specialty costly and hard to find throughout the summer and possibly beyond. San Francisco Chronicle article

Health/Human Services  

Hospital construction projects booming to meet Valley growth and demand — Hospital construction projects are booming in the central San Joaquin Valley, from new pediatric specialty offices to cancer centers and medical office buildings. Fresno Bee article 

Abstain, reduce partners, use condoms: Fresno County says STDs are increasing — April is Sexually Transmitted Infections Awareness Month, and Fresno County health officials want to remind the public about the importance of prevention, testing and treatment. In Fresno County, cases of syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea and HIV are the most common communicable infections reported to the health department. Fresno Bee article 

Visalia hospital adds anesthesiology residency program – Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia is accepting applications for a new anesthesiology residency program to begin in June. The program will be the only anesthesiology residency program in the central San Joaquin Valley. Fresno Bee article; Visalia Times-Delta article

Do cellphones boost cancer risk? Jury’s still out, some scientists say — The jury is still out on whether cellphone use increases cancer risk. A few animal studies have showed tumor formation in mice exposed to cellphone radiation, but some scientists say the results aren’t applicable to humans. Other studies have found correlations between people who develop brain cancer and those who use mobile devices, but critics say asking people to recall phone habits over several decades produces unreliable results. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

No takers for 24th Street houses — No one has come forward to participate in the auction of five homes on the south side of 24th Street, which need to be moved for the widening project there, according to the City Manager’s office’s weekly memo to the mayor and City Council. Bakersfield Californian article 


California reports fewer pedestrian deaths in 2016 — The death of a Porterville man spotlights a recently released report by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association that shows a significant rise in the number of pedestrian fatalities. Pedestrians account for the largest category of traffic fatalities recorded nationwide in the last 25 years. However, California bucks the trend, reporting fewer pedestrian deaths — an 11.4 percent decrease in 2016. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Sacramento area has flat streets, cyclists aplenty.  Will bike share finally arrive? — As soon as May, West Sacramento streets could get a little greener. The City Council agreed last week to negotiate with a Bay Area startup to place 200 bicycles in West Sacramento as part of a bike-share program aimed at encouraging more residents to ditch their cars. Sacramento Bee article 

United Airlines suffers more bad publicity after passenger is dragged from overbooked plane — Less than a month after sparking harsh criticism for denying boarding to two teenage girls over “inappropriate” clothing, United Airlines is again on the defensive over an incident involving a passenger dragged off an overbooked plane. LA Times article; New York Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article 

‘Safety Train’ program uses enforcement, education to focus on safety at railroad tracks — Railroad officials joined forces with Fresno police on Monday to emphasize rail safety in the city, part of a “safety train” outreach by the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, the agency that oversees Amtrak in the central San Joaquin Valley. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Atwater set to interview two candidates for city manager job – Atwater City Council will be interviewing two candidates for the city manager job during a closed session meeting on Monday, the mayor confirmed. Sources with knowledge of the hiring process confirmed the candidates are interim City Manager Scott McBride and former Ceres police Chief Art de Werk. Merced Sun-Star article 

Atwater to buy two new fire vehicles, study transparency tool – ew vehicles, transparency and safety were all part of discussions Monday at Atwater City Hall. The City Council voted unanimously to pay for two new “fire command vehicles” at a price tag of $87,288, according to records. The vehicles are for a battalion chief and a fire marshal from the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection in Atwater. Merced Sun-Star article 

Carmen George: She’s 16 and ‘changing the world’ as leader of Fresno-based Kids on a Mission — A Madera girl’s quest to end poverty and share the love of God started with a walk down G Street in downtown Fresno. Kaitlin Riffel was visiting her father at work – at that time, the Fresno Rescue Mission, a Christian shelter for the homeless and those in need. George in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup 

Fresno Bee – In coming days and weeks, Trump and his advisers must come up with a real Syria strategy and convince Congress and the American people it is in our national interest.

Modesto Bee – Losing shoes and losing jobs in Modesto.

Sacramento Bee –- President Donald Trump’s path to the White House was paved in large measure by white working-class voters. But he isn’t exactly returning the favor to these Americans, who are dying in shockingly high numbers in middle age; California is right to let consumers know that gardening gloves and appropriate gear around chemicals may be in order, along with maybe tackling some of those weeds the old-fashioned way – by pulling them.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Losing a signature crop, infill defeats sprawl and other issues.