April 12, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories 

Lawmakers’ side ‘arrangements’ didn’t start with California gas-tax bill — Last week’s approval of major road-funding legislation wasn’t the first time that other “arrangements,” in the words of Gov. Jerry Brown, helped seal the deal. Side pacts between governors, legislative leaders and select lawmakers, sometimes unspoken, played key roles in annual budget negotiations before voters in 2010 eliminated the two-thirds requirement to pass budgets. Sacramento Bee article

Lawmakers’ aim to move California’s presidential primary right behind Iowa and New Hampshire — California lawmakers and the state’s chief elections officer announced a new effort on Tuesday to move the state’s 2020 primary up by three months, even giving the governor power to accelerate the timeline in hopes of closely following elections in Iowa and New Hampshire. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article

Michael Tubbs, one of America’s youngest mayors, aims to lift his hometown of Stockton — Stockton’s favorite son no longer is a relatively anonymous City Council member. His story has gone national. He is in demand as a speaker on radio programs and academic panels around the country. His constituents approach him at the gym, on the street and in the barber shop where he gets his weekly cut. They have questions about police tactics, crime and zoning regulations. They want answers. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown 

Will Brown talk Delta tunnels with Trump’s top land and dam manager? — President Donald Trump’s top land and dam manager will meet Thursday with Gov. Jerry Brown in Sacramento. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke plans on discussing water, fire, infrastructure and conservation with Brown before heading to Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks on Thursday and Friday, said Interior spokesman Heather Swift in an email. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics 

Kings County voter registration climbs – Looks like the 2016 election got local residents fired up. According to the Kings County Election Office, as of March 24, 2017, 51,323 Kings County residents were registered to vote. That’s up from March 2016, where 46,805 were registered to vote. Hanford Sentinel article 

Michael Fitzgerald: Pork that’s healthy for the Valley – Perhaps I should repeat my position on earmarks, also known as pork: I am utterly against this outrageous practice, unless it comes to my region. Then I really don’t see a problem. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record 

Bruce Freeman: Business acumen for a city with challenges – The candidate for Bakersfield’s Ward 5 council seat writes, “We also have two excellent institutions of higher learning, Bakersfield College and CSU Bakersfield, that are increasing the skills of our labor force every day. I’m honored to have served as chairman of the CSUB Business School Advisory Board for the past 16 years, along with a long history of community service and educational endeavors. Our city budget has some tough times ahead of us, but we can get through them. I believe I can be of help in this effort. That’s why I am running for city council.” Freeman op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Noel Pineo: Campaign dollars better spent – The candidate for Bakersfield’s Ward 5 council seat writes, “I ask that you please donate to the Bakersfield Homeless Center and ask two registered voters in Ward 5 to vote for Noel Pineo. My hope is that the other candidates for this seat will recognize that it is inappropriate to spend up to $100,000 on this job. Let’s debate the issues.” Pineo op-ed in Bakersfield Californian 

Tulare hospital board recall election cost: $100,000 — The July 11 recall election for Tulare Regional Medical Center board member Dr. Parmod Kumar will cost taxpayers more than $100,000, four times the cost of an earlier election date proposed by the county elections office but rejected by the TRMC board, which delayed the vote as long as possible. Visalia Times-Delta article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures 

Which California city most closely matched the state’s election preferences? — Pollsters and campaign consultants trying to discern California’s true bellwether for political proclivities may want to look no further than Ventura. In last November’s election, the city of 108,000 was one of five where voters matched the preferences of California as a whole for all 19 statewide contests – president, U.S. Senate, and 17 ballot measures, according to the California Secretary of State’s recently released supplemental statement of vote. Sacramento Bee article


Will a new deal prevent immigration raids in Madera County – Since the beginning of April, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has announced more than 350 arrests in raids from New York to Virginia to Texas. Presumably, they could happen anywhere at anytime. But a new quid pro quo with the government has Madera County hoping it can both do away with raids and keep its residents safe. Valley Public Radio report 

California lawmakers are setting up a sanctuary state and daring Trump to stop them. Can he? – Showing a giant middle finger to President Trump, California is on its way to becoming the first sanctuary state in the nation. Democratic lawmakers there are moving a bill that would prevent local and state law enforcement agencies from helping the federal government deport undocumented immigrants. (The state Senate passed it last week, and the state Assembly is expected to take it up soon, though Gov. Jerry Brown (D) hasn’t said whether he’ll sign it.) Washington Post article 

Attorney General Sessions calls for harsher penalties for migrants who repeatedly enter the country illegally — Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has directed federal prosecutors in the states bordering Mexico to crack down harder on migrants who repeatedly enter the country illegally. LA Times article

Trump wants immigrants to ‘share our values.’ They say assimilation is much more complex — Growing up in La Puente in the 1980s, Alex Espinoza was a typical child of the Reagan era. He collected “Star Wars” action figures and played with Rubik’s Cube. LA Times article

Other areas 

California bill creates ‘safe’ places to shoot heroin, take opioids —  Amid a surge of prescription opioid and heroin overdoses ravaging communities nationwide, one California lawmaker has an unconventional proposal: Create facilities for addicts to take drugs under the supervision of medical professionals. Sacramento Bee article 

FBI agent says San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee looked at in corruption investigation — Mayor Ed Lee was a target in the federal corruption investigation into the Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow racketeering case that led to a prison sentence for former state Sen. Leland Yee and criminal charges against some of Lee’s campaign staff, an FBI agent testified in San Francisco Superior Court on Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article 

PolitiFact CA: Could gas-tax hike leave California with ‘highest fuel prices in the nation’? — Tacking on 12 more cents per gallon to California’s gas tax could very well leave the state with the most expensive gas prices in the nation, as Runner claimed. But without a crystal ball, no one knows for sure how the state’s prices will rank months from now when the proposed tax increase would go into effect. PolitiFact CA article

Presidential Politics 

Choice of pro-immigration economic adviser riles Trump’s base – The choice by President Trump of a pro-immigration economist to lead his Council of Economic Advisers is stirring a backlash among his most ardent supporters who worry it is an abandonment of the tough stance he took on the issue during the campaign and the latest in a string of broken promises. New York Times article 

Trump’s shift on Russia brings geopolitical whiplash – Even in a presidency marked by unpredictability, the head-spinning shift from coziness to confrontation has left Washington and other capitals with a case of geopolitical whiplash. The prospects of improving Russian-American relations were already slim given the atmosphere of suspicion stemming from Kremlin meddling in last year’s election, but the détente once envisioned by Mr. Trump has instead deteriorated into the latest cold war. New York Times article

Fueled by Trump resistance, Sanders’ influence grows with Dems — Fueled in part by the resistance to Trump, Sanders’ influence continues to grow. His proposals, which once seemed too close to the fringe, are moving closer to the mainstream, especially in California, where a single-payer health care plan has been introduced in the Legislature and a form of free college is being considered in San Jose. San Francisco Chronicle article 

Energy Star labels are seen as a cheap way to improve efficiency.  Why does Trump want to kill them? – Commercial real estate giant CBRE is always on alert for shifts in federal government policy that might impact its vast property management and investment business. But the Los Angeles-based Fortune 500 company never anticipated an effort to eliminate a voluntary, cost-effective initiative that has saved its customers millions of dollars and had almost no critics. LA Times article 

FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump advisor Carter Page — The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said. Washington Post article

News Stories

Top Stories 

Drought busted: Bureau of Reclamation boosts water allocation to 100 percent for west-side farmers — The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation had a change of heart and is boosting the water allocation for farmers south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to 100 percent for the first time since 2006. The announcement Tuesday comes only weeks after the bureau told growers that they would receive 65 percent of the contract supply from the Central Valley Project. Fresno Bee article; Hanford Sentinel article; Stockton Record article; Sacramento Bee article

Coming to a billboard near you: Valley fever awareness campaign starts Wednesday — For the first time in decades, the Kern County Department of Public Health will plaster billboards around town and along major highways warning residents of the danger of valley fever, a respiratory disease endemic to the region. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Interview: Medical marijuana companies target Hanford – Of all places in the Central Valley the City of Hanford has been targeted by a number of companies wanting to establish medical marijuana cultivation businesses. After one business dropped out last month, two others are now interested. Hanford Sentinel article

Many California residents can’t find full-time jobs – The difficulty of finding steady, year-round, good-paying work in many parts of California is reflected in a recent state statistic: labor underutilization. The term refers to part-time workers who would rather work full-time but can’t find a full-time position. It also includes people who have looked for work but gave up looking in the last four weeks. Some did so likely because they lost hope that they would find something. Hanford Sentinel article 

CalPERS says divesting from border wall, Dakota pipeline could hurt taxpayers – Leaders at CalPERS are voicing concerns about a set of bills in the Legislature that would compel that $310 billion pension fund to divest from politically unpopular projects, such as President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall and the Dakota Access Pipeline. Sacramento Bee article 

Restore Hanford’s downtown glory? – Les Vierra has lived in Hanford all his life – 76 years, to be exact. He remembers downtown in its late 1960s heyday: dozens of colorful neon signs glowing, lots of people walking around at night, the works. Hanford Sentinel article 

Appeals court vindicates San Diego’s 2012 pension cutbacks – A state appeals court on Tuesday vindicated San Diego’s five-year-old aggressive pension cutbacks, potentially saving the city millions it could have been forced to spend creating retroactive pensions for roughly 2,000 workers hired since 2012. San Diego Union-Tribune article 

CalPERS state rate doubles in decade to $6 billion – The annual cost of state worker pensions would increase to $6 billion in July in a recommendation from CalPERS actuaries, up $521 million from the current fiscal year and double the amount paid a decade ago. Calpensions article 

Tulare County residents demand equal pay for equal work – Activists from across Tulare County stood on the corner of Mooney Boulevard and Walnut Avenue, during rush hour, and demanded equal pay for equal work. Tuesday’s rally was organized by ACT for Women and Girls. Visalia Times-Delta article

Google refutes charges, says there is no gender pay gap — Google said it’s “taken aback ” by the government’s claim that it doesn’t compensate women fairly. The company said it conducts “rigorous analyses” that its pay practices are gender-blind and found “no gender pay gap” in 52 major job categories it analyzed last year. Google added that analysts who calculate suggested pay don’t have access to employees’ gender data. AP article

Council approves use permit for casino in Sacramento’s historic Elks Tower – The Sacramento City Council approved a conditional-use permit for a proposed casino in downtown’s historic Elks Tower, a project that supporters say would provide jobs and a 24-hour entertainment venue. Sacramento Bee article 

Tribes look beyond slot machines for future income – Casinos have brought decades of prosperity to many Native American tribes in San Diego County and across the nation. Now, tribal nations are looking beyond slot machines to expand their economic opportunities. KPBS report 

Modesto store among Bebe closures — Amid extensive reports that it will close all 170 of its brick-and-mortar stores, Brisbane-based women’s apparel retailer Bebe Stores Inc. has posted notice that it will close its Modesto store. The store is located at Vintage Faire Mall. Modesto Bee article


From extreme drought to record rain: Why California’s drought-to-deluge cycle is getting worse – Experts and state water officials say California is seeing more of these intense weather swings as temperatures warm, which has profound implications for the droughts and floods the state may face in the generations to come. LA Times article 

California farmers say rain is a good thing, but too much can delay planting, harvest – Les Wright oversees all of Fresno County’s crops. He’s the agricultural commissioner here. Often he’s meeting with growers and ranchers on their farms, but today he’s fielding calls from his Fresno office. The reason? He says busy doing office work because the rain means they can’t be in the fields. Valley Public Radio report 

Incredible snow totals in Sierra as more in forecast for this week, along with rain in Sacramento — From 162 inches at Snow Summit ski resort in the San Bernardino mountains to 751 inches at Sugar Bowl in the Sierra, the winter has delivered wave after wave of snowstorms. Other resorts posting hefty seasonal totals include 708 inches at Boreal, 685 at Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows and 680 at Soda Springs. Sacramento Bee article 

Big LA water agency antes up for a share of Valley’s Sites Reservoir – The water agency that supplies drinking water to Los Angeles agreed Tuesday to contribute $1.5 million toward the planning of Sites Reservoir in the Sacramento Valley, giving the agency a toehold in a potentially valuable storage project. Sacramento Bee article

Brown administration blocks public review of Oroville Dam records — Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration is using federal security regulations written to thwart terrorism to deny public access to records that experts say could guide repairs to the Oroville Dam and provide insight into what led to the near catastrophic failure of its emergency spillway. Sacramento Bee article 

San Joaquin County supervisors approve water sharing plan – A first-of-its-kind water-sharing agreement between San Joaquin County and its longtime rival, the East Bay Municipal Utility District, was approved unanimously by county supervisors this morning. The so-called DREAM Project involves only a small amount of water. But the experiment will help officials learn more about the potential for larger, more significant water exchanges in the future, as California is expected to grapple with more severe droughts and floods. Stockton Record article 

Lois Henry: Ok, done with drought now on to the next California disaster – I thought now might be a good time to mention the dark side to the “end of California’s drought” — fire. I know, I’m such a buzzkill. All this rain is filling up reservoirs, replenishing our water table and reviving the ski industry but it’s also making lots and lots of grass grow all over the state. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian 

Lodi growers live by their own rules — Many industries await calamity before adopting altruistic processes to achieve long-term success. Not Lodi’s wine grape growers. Stockton Record article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno’s Tower District, El Dorado Park neighborhoods to see return of police offices — After several years without a permanent police presence, Fresno’s iconic Tower District will soon see a return of officers in a scaled back form. The Fresno Police Department is bringing a pair of lease agreements to the Fresno City Council for approval on Thursday afternoon, including one for renting space for a report-writing office on Wishon Avenue in the Tower District. The second is for a small office on Shaw Avenue near Sixth Street. Fresno Bee article 

Results released of enforcement targeting Kern Valley area – Kern County sheriff’s officials on Tuesday released the results of a project targeting crime and quality of life issues in the Kern Valley area. The plan, formulated in January and lasting about 60 days, resulted in 27 vagrancy arrests, 21 arrests regarding thefts and 54 arrests on drug charges, sheriff’s officials said. Bakersfield Californian article

Video sparks probe of Sacramento officer’s takedown of man crossing street — The pedestrian who was tackled to the ground and punched in the face several times by a Sacramento Police Department officer Monday was briefly held in the Sacramento Main Jail before being released Tuesday morning, said Sgt. Bryce Heinlein, police spokesman. Sacramento Bee article 

Sacramento Bee: What Sacramento’s next police chief needs most — Sacramento officials should hold public hearings with the finalists for the post. The Police Department, like many around America, is under a microscope after several fatal incidents involving its officers.  Sacramento Bee editorial 

Merced police will honor fallen officer Gray in memorial – The Merced Police Department will hold a memorial service Friday to honor Officer Stephan Gray, who was killed in the line of duty 13 years ago. Merced Sun-Star article

Federal appellate court says jailers had a duty to protect inmate from being killed — In April 2012, inmate John Cotta was killed by another inmate inside their shared cell in the Kings County Jail. This month, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Cotta’s family against Kings County should go forward. Fresno Bee article


Bill McEwen: Don’t buy Fresno State professor’s victim act – Fresno State history professor Lars Maischak – author of the now infamous “Trump must hang” tweet – is portraying himself as a victim. I’m not buying it, and here’s why. McEwen column in Fresno Bee 

Bakersfield High School still buzzing over Bumble’s business prize – The Bakersfield High School team that took part in an international business competition in New York last week didn’t merely win a first-place prize, the students may also have brought their fictional company to life. The competition, Virtual Enterprise International, directs students to develop fictitious business plans and pitch them to industry leaders. BHS won the regional and state competitions before heading to New York this month. Bakersfield Californian article 

Release of 2016 grad rates show Modesto high schools improving – California released graduation rates for 2016 Tuesday, just weeks ahead of the Class of 2017 marching across the field. The results show big improvements for Modesto’s large high schools, particularly for African-American students. Modesto Bee article 

Database: Graduation rates for Stanislaus, Merced high schools – Here is a look at the 2016 graduation rates for high schools in Stanislaus and Merced counties, according to the California Department of Education. Modesto Bee article 

Nearly half of California school districts earn top ratings for lowering suspensions – Nearly half of all California school districts received top ratings from the state for lowering their suspension rates, according to an EdSource analysis of data from the California School Dashboard, a new evaluation tool released in a field test version last month by the California Department of Education. EdSource article 

Students get hands-on look at UC lab – A day planned by the UC Merced Cellular and Biomolecular Machines Center brought about 75 Merced schoolchildren to the campus on Tuesday to see laboratories, practice hands-on science and even make ice cream by using liquid nitrogen. Merced Sun-Star article 

Tulare students get hands-on learning — Two Tulare schools were recently able to give students hands-on learning experiences thanks to teacher grants provided by local nonprofit Ruiz 4 Kids. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Sacramento State sues over ‘defective’ athletic track — Sacramento State officials expected the $1.4 million resurfacing job on its athletic tracks to improve the school’s image as a prime destination in the track and field world. Instead, the university is headed to court.  Sacramento Bee article 


Interior Secretary plans visit to Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will visit Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks Thursday and Friday, an Interior spokeswoman told The Sacramento Bee on Tuesday in an email. Fresno Bee article 

Appeals court restores lumber companies’ challenge to northern spotted owl habitat — A top federal appeals court has added fuel to a long-running fight over federal protections for the northern spotted owl in California, Oregon and Washington state. McClatchy Newspapers article

Health/Human Services  

How safe is your hospital? Only one Valley hospital earns an ‘A’ in national report card — Only one Valley hospital earned a top grade for patient safety in a nationwide report card released Wednesday. Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia was one of 823 hospitals nationwide to earn an “A” from the Leapfrog Group, which gave grades to 2,639 hospitals nationwide. The group gives report-card grades to hospitals twice a year, in spring and fall. Fresno Bee article 

Fresno County applies for $1 million from feds to fight lead in children — Reports of high levels of lead in children in two zip codes in Southeast Fresno have raised new concerns about the health of young residents. Valley Public Radio report 

Too sick for surgery? Memorial introduces an easier way to replace a heart valve — James Valdivia of Modesto was one of the first patients in Stanislaus County to undergo a heart procedure that’s now offered at Memorial Medical Center. The retired welding instructor returned home 48 hours after doctors replaced the aortic valve in his heart by inserting a catheter in his groin and threading it through arteries to his heart. Modesto Bee article 

Future of ACA subsidies is in limbo, awaiting Trump decision – The federal government spends $7 billion a year on these subsidies nationwide, and about $750 million of it goes to help low-income residents of California, like Deterville. The future of the subsidies is in limbo: A lawsuit challenging the legality of the payments is on hold before a federal appeals court. The outcome is largely in the hands of the Trump administration, which has the power to continue or halt the stream of money. San Francisco Chronicle article 

State grant will allow Pride Center to help LGBT+ students – The San Joaquin Pride Center has received a “game changing” state grant that will allow significantly increased services for LGBT+ youth. The program, titled Cultivating Acceptance, will be funded by a $1.18 million grant from the California Department of Public Health, Office of Health Equity. Stockton Record article 

‘Intense’ meeting led to doctors’ ouster, Benzeevi says — Dr. Yori “Benny” Benzeevi, CEO of Tulare Regional Medical Center and of its management group, HealthCare Conglomerate Associates, testified Tuesday he hardly remembers details of a meeting with state health officials that led to the ouster of doctors who supervised the medical staff. Visalia Times-Delta article 

Benefits of PSA test to screen for prostate cancer are roughly equal to its harms, expert panel says — For men between the ages of 55 and 69, getting screened for prostate cancer is a mixed bag of possible, down-the-road benefits and just-as-possible immediate harms. LA Times article 

A new kid after 45? Number of older California women giving birth triples — California women are waiting longer to have children. Many are taking advantage of fertility treatments to wait a really long time. The number of births to California women 45 and older jumped from about 650 in 1995 to about 1,850 in 2015, according to the latest figure from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The increase comes as the number of births to younger women approaches historic lows. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing 

Code enforcement officers say they’re not cops and shouldn’t go after pot growers — Rachel Sutherland strapped on a bulletproof vest with a badge on one shoulder and her name on the other during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors hearing on banning commercial marijuana cultivation. Emblazoned in yellow block lettering across the back is her job: CODE ENFORCEMENT. “Looking at me, now, I look like a peace officer,” Sutherland said. “If you ask us to do drug enforcement activity work, please understand that though we may dress like police officers, we are not police officers. We’re not peace officers.” Sacramento Bee article 


Staff asked to charge Uber and Lyft for lost airport parking fees – until the idea stalled — A plan to assess a $3 fee for each trip by Uber and Lyft drivers to pick up or drop off passengers at Fresno Yosemite International Airport was rejected last week by the Fresno City Council. Fresno Bee article 

United fiasco shows airlines’ power over passengers – and how it might change — In light of the incident this week in which a United Airlines passenger was dragged off a sold-out flight, to the shock of his fellow passengers and millions watching it on video, passenger advocates say airlines’ seating policies may now get closer scrutiny. LA Times article; LA Times article: ‘Before apologizing on Tuesday, United tried two unsuccessful tactics to quell its public relations crisis’

Other areas

Atwater councilwoman says there’s no conflict of interest in search for city manager — An Atwater councilwoman who will help select the city’s next manager maintains there is no conflict of interest for her even though one candidate is her husband’s former boss. Councilwoman Cindy Vierra, confirmed to the Sun-Star on Monday that Art de Werk, former police chief and city manager in Ceres, supervised her husband, Danny Vierra, who is a police sergeant there. Merced Sun-Star article

Turlock city manager Gary Hampton will retire Aug. 31 – City Manager Gary Hampton announced Tuesday night that he will retire as of Aug. 31. Hampton, who had held the post since March 2016, made the announcement at a Turlock City Council meeting. He will end a nearly 35-year career that included police chief, fire chief, interim city manager and other duties for Turlock at various times from 2006 to 2011. His resume also lists police chief in Oakdale and public safety director in Tracy. Modesto Bee article 

Modesto Irrigation District bumps general manager after just eight months — After eight months as general manager of the Modesto Irrigation District, Greg Salyer is being demoted at his request, although he’ll continue drawing the same $236,188 yearly pay after the MID board finds someone to replace him, probably at a similar salary. Modesto Bee article 

Danny Morrison: As children’s flag ascends, let’s pray abuse case numbers descend — Last Friday, I had the privilege of attending an event put on by the Department of Human Services. With April being recognized as Child Abuse Awareness Month, the city came together for a somber yet uplifting Children’s Memorial Flag raising ceremony. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian 

Stockton City Council Oks high-speed boost to library system’s internet – The Stockton and San Joaquin County library system is using its recent membership in the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California, or CENIC, to join a high-speed broadband network that provides internet service to the state’s public universities and schools. Stockton Record article 

No ‘Shh!’ at this library — The quiet library, with people silently reading and looking for books under the threat of an angry “Shh!” from the librarian could not be further from the atmosphere that Ariel Dyer is trying to foster at the Kern County Library’s northeast branch. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – The active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup has been labeled a carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65 regulations. Take it in context, gardeners, but be careful out there.

Modesto Bee – The active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup has been labeled a carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65 regulations. Take it in context, gardeners, but be careful out there.

Sacramento Bee –- After a passenger is dragged off a United flight for problem the company created, the airline created a bigger incident not taking responsibility and blaming the passenger; Sacramento officials should hold public hearings with the finalists for the post. The Police Department, like many around America, is under a microscope after several fatal incidents involving its officers; United Airlines incident points to disturbing trend that something ugly may be trumping our humanity.