April 18, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Rudy Salas latest moderate Dem slapped down for bucking party — Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, paid dearly Monday for his April 6 vote against a measure expected to increase gasoline taxes and vehicle registration fees to fund road repairs and transit improvements. Speaker of the Assembly Anthony Rendon stripped Salas of his seat as chairman of the influential Business and Professions Committee. Bakersfield Californian article; Sacramento Bee article

Lively crowd greets Denham at Government Night in Denair — Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, defended his stands on health care, immigration and other issues Monday night at a town hall meeting that often got heated. About 1,000 supporters and detractors filled the Larsa Banquet Hall, just east of Turlock, for the long-awaited event. Critics have said Denham took too long to schedule it following the election of President Donald Trump in November. Modesto Bee article; Modesto Bee editorial

California Senate approves projects linked to gas tax hike — The promised funding for projects in the Central Valley and Riverside County was integral to the tax hike’s razor-thin approval earlier this month. Four lawmakers agreed to vote for the tax increase only after Gov. Jerry Brown and top legislative leaders promised to push through legislation guaranteeing funding for their favored projects. AP article

State budget

An in-home care program for California’s elderly and disabled is constantly at the heart of budget battles. Here’s why — California’s program to provide in-home care for its low-income elderly and disabled residents finds itself once again at the heart of a state budget standoff. LA Times article

Valley politics

Rep. Jeff Denham says he’s a ‘no’ on Republican healthcare legislation for now – Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) said Monday night that he wouldn’t support his party’s healthcare legislation unless it left significant parts of Obamacare intact. LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Feinstein says Democrats should be pragmatic; protestors want her to step aside –
Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Monday sought to tamp down anger and frustration over President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and actions, advocating for a pragmatic approach for the Democratic Party to regain power in Washington. Sacramento Bee article

Calexit backers drop one California succession bid, try again – Supporters of one long-shot bid to make California an independent nation ended their effort on Monday, while another group said it will launch a new campaign for a statewide vote next year. AP article

Sen. Kamala Harris went to Middle East for her first foreign trip as U.S. senator — Sen. Kamala Harris spent the first week of the April recess in Iraq and Jordan during her first trip overseas as a member of Congress. LA Times article


A $10-million fund will help immigrants fight deportations.  But should it help those with violent criminal convictions? — Fearing mass deportations under President Trump, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and County Supervisor Hilda Solis stood together in December to unveil a $10-million fund to hire lawyers to defend local immigrants without legal status. Modeled after programs in other cities, the L.A. Justice Fund will use city and county money and private donations to help those facing deportation proceedings. LA Times article

LA responds to Trump travel ban with ‘Everyone is welcome’ campaign – Los Angeles tourism officials are launching an advertising campaign Tuesday with the message “Everyone is welcome” — a clear response to President Trump’s proposed travel ban. LA Times article

Other areas

Woman struck by Stan State student Nathan Damigo speaks out to Bay Area TV station — protester who appears in a viral video being punched in the face by a California State University, Stanislaus student on Saturday, says she was standing by a wall searching for her boyfriend when she was hit. Modesto Bee article

Jeff Jardine: Will state bail on bail? AB 42 would eliminate bucks for bonds as judge decides who stays, goes — Tuesday in Sacramento, state legislators likely will take a step toward joining a number of other states in the nation that have eliminated bail altogether. Assembly Bill 42, authored by Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, goes before the State Assembly’s Committee on Public Safety on Tuesday, where it is expected to move on to the appropriations committee toward a possible floor vote in June. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

California lawmakers weigh measures to improve dental care for the poor – California lawmakers are considering several bills to improve and expand access to Denti-Cal, the state’s troubled dental program for low-income people — including ones that would draw from the state’s new tobacco tax to boost dentists’ pay. KQED report

Joe Altschule: California dreamin’ is real, and it works — Jerry Brown has resuscitated California from the Arnold Schwarzenegger debacle of administrative mismanagement and budget deficits with the intelligent policies and programs we’ve seen in the past eight years. Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

Tom Fife: Brown, Kim Jong Un should exit office — Unlike Kim, Brown’s leadership will also end, but because of term limits. Either way, neither leader’s political end can come soon enough for the people they represent. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

Presidential Politics

Trump’s unreleased taxes threaten yet another campaign promise — President Trump’s promise to enact a sweeping overhaul of the tax code is in serious jeopardy nearly 100 days into his tenure, and his refusal to release his own tax returns is emerging as a central hurdle to another faltering campaign promise. New York Times article

Planned Trump order will discourage hiring of low-wage foreign workers — President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday aimed at making it harder for technology companies to recruit low-wage workers from foreign countries and undercut Americans looking for jobs. New York Times article

For many at violent Berkeley rally, it wasn’t really about Trump or free speech: They came to make trouble — What appeared to be a political event that devolved into violence was actually something more complex. The combatants on both sides were extremists who traveled from far and wide to make Berkeley their stage. Many freely admitted they were there to make trouble and that peaceful protest over President Trump and other issues really wasn’t their goal. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

Consultant says Merced could get $1.6 million a year – if it allowed recreational weed shops — Merced stands to make as much as an estimated $1.6 million a year in marijuana tax revenue if it allowed recreational marijuana, according to the city’s weed consultant. Merced Sun-Star article

Amid California’s pot business boom, most banks run away from all that cash – Though federally prohibited, marijuana is now legal in some form in 28 states and Washington, D.C. But most banks remain loathe to accept pot business accounts out of fear of federal money laundering laws that can consider such deposits as illegal transactions. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Merced, Mariposa home prices rising at faster clip than regional neighbors — Merced homes have some of the fastest increasing prices in the state, according to new figures reported by the California Association of Realtors. The median home in Merced was priced at $229,500 in March, a 24.1 percent increase from the same time last year, according to a report released Friday. Merced Sun-Star article

Home sales and prices jump across Bay Area, California – As tough as it is to find an affordable home — or any home at all — in the Bay Area, the housing crunch is a statewide phenomenon. New listings plunged 12 percent in March from one year earlier, creating a seller’s market across the state. San Jose Mercury News article

Modesto rue21 among closures announced by teen retailer Monday — Teen clothing retailer rue21 is closing about one-third of its stores nationwide as it focuses more on its online business. According to its website, that includes stores on Plaza Parkway in Modesto, Stadium Center in Manteca and West Valley Mall in Tracy. Stores in Turlock and Atwater will remain open. AP article

LA County seeks to strengthen the safety net for its neediest residents with funding for the homeless, social workers and healthcare —  Los Angeles County pressed forward with an effort to strengthen the safety net for its most vulnerable residents Monday with a budget plan that carves out significant allotments for social services, healthcare and other support for the poor. LA Times article

United Launch Alliance to lay off 48 people at Vandenberg Air Force Base — United Launch Alliance will lay off 48 people at Vandenberg Air Force Base, a move that comes as rival SpaceX ups the competition in the launch services market. LA Times article

How is public money spent? Steve Ballmer has the data — The former Microsoft chief is about to unveil a searchable database that shows you how federal, state and local governments spend tax dollars. New York Times article


Mike Dunbar: Enviros say dams are bad – until they need cold water – The NRDC demands more water, but offers nothing tangible to help the people of our region. No lobbying lawmakers for incentives to pressurize irrigation delivery systems or install telemetric monitoring or funds to convert wastewater into irrigation water as the cities of Ceres, Turlock and Modesto are already doing. It’s far easier – and likely more lucrative – to cast farmers as villains. Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Judge finds Gerawan Farming violated state labor law in bargaining dispute with UFW — An administrative law judge ruled that Gerawan Farming violated state labor law by refusing to bargain in good faith and trying to exclude some workers from a collective bargaining agreement with the United Farm Workers union in 2013. Fresno Bee article; LA Times article

California awards Nebraska company $275 million contract to fix dam — California water officials say they have awarded a contract to repair Oroville Dam’s two damaged spillways to a Nebraska construction company. AP article; Sacramento Bee article

Serious design, construction and maintenance defects doomed Oroville Dam, report says – Design flaws, construction shortcomings and maintenance errors caused the Oroville Dam spillway to break apart in February, according to an independent analysis by Robert Bea for the Center for Catastrophic Risk Analysis at UC Berkeley. LA Times article

Locally grown Delta asparagus is still out there — Delta asparagus is going, going… but not quite gone. If you’re willing to spend a little more, and maybe drive a little farther, you can enjoy the local stuff rather than what’s imported from Mexico or Peru. Stockton Record article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Nephew of Fresno’s former deputy police chief takes plea in drug case — Another of Keith Foster’s nephews has taken a plea deal in a federal drug trafficking case that cost Foster his job as deputy police chief with the Fresno Police Department two years ago. Fresno Bee article

Correctional officers injured in two fights with inmates at Delano prison — Several correctional officers were injured in two separate fights Monday with inmates at a Delano prison. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton police add new officer, three trainees –  Getting closer to its goal of 485 sworn officers by the end of June, the Stockton Police Department welcomed one new officer and three new trainees on Monday. Stockton Record article

Officer: ’10 years from now, I’ll still refer to him as chief’ — With more than 30 years of experience under his duty belt, Exeter Police Chief Cliff Bush is preparing for life after law enforcement. Visalia Times-Delta article

LAPD officers expected to face more scrutiny over shootings with new rules — For nearly two years, the Los Angeles Police Department’s civilian bosses have embarked on a high-profile campaign to curb the number of shootings by officers, pushing department brass for more training and less-lethal devices. This week, the Police Commission will consider taking a major step to help the LAPD deliver on that goal. LA Times article


In a bid to ease student debt, California considers a role in helping to refinance private loans – State treasurer and gubernatorial hopeful John Chiang is wading into the increasingly high-profile debate over college affordability with a new push for California to play a role in alleviating the burden of high-interest private student loans. LA Times article

Costs triple, delays mount for UC computer system upgrade — The timeline for a massive upgrade to the University of California’s payroll and personnel system was extended again twice in the past two months, further delaying a project now expected to cost more than three times its original budget.  Sacramento Bee article

Clovis West student commits suicide, now mother and ex-girlfriend blame the other — Emotional wounds were rubbed raw in a Fresno County courtroom Monday as a Clovis West student attempted to secure a restraining order against the mother of her ex-boyfriend – a 16-year-old boy who took his own life in November. Both parties blamed one another for the teenager’s death while sitting six feet apart before Judge Carlos A. Cabrera, who ultimately denied the request for First Amendment reasons. Fresno Bee article

California bill that would restrict charter school approvals stalls in Sacramento — Charter school supporters are applauding a state senator’s decision to table a bill that would have allowed only school districts to approve new charter petitions. EdSource article

Green Valley Charter School headed to state after county board denies renewal appeal — Supporters of a troubled Los Banos charter school lost a critical bid to save their program on Monday when the Merced County Board of Education refused an appeal to renew their charter. Merced Sun-Star article

UC Davis student leaders say American flag display should be optional at meetings — The UC Davis student senate has made it optional to display the American flag at its meetings, stirring up controversy on campus and conservative blogs. Sacramento Bee article

Internal Affairs: Stanford Oks Trump image for sexual assault conference — With a name like “The Way Forward: Title IX Advocacy in the Trump Era,” it might seem natural that the upcoming conference at Stanford University would feature the president’s image on its website and poster. And so it apparently will, in spades — after a brouhaha over whether the image chosen by law school professor and conference organizer Michele Dauber was too partisan. San Jose Mercury News article


Dollar General ordered to pay $1.12 million in hazardous waste disposal case — A Kern County judge has ordered the company that owns Dollar General stores and a distribution center in California to pay $1.12 million as part of a civil settlement for unlawfully disposing hazardous wastes over a five-year period. Bakersfield Californian article

State puts Modesto on notice over waste-water discharge — A state agency has issued a notice of violation to Modesto for discharging roughly 755 million gallons of partially treated waste water in to the San Joaquin River in March because the city’s sewer system had been overwhelmed by storms and rising river water. Modesto Bee article

San Joaquin County warns more standing water means more mosquitoes — April showers bring more than May flowers. A wet winter, followed by a showery April, means a lot of standing water, and that means mosquitoes and more, according to the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District. Stockton Record article

‘Ready for Wildfire’ app alerts residents to fires in their areas — Californians living in fire-prone areas can download a new application that provides a fire-safety checklist and allows them to receive wildfire alerts from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

Soda industry tells court San Francisco health warnings are unfair – San Francisco’s attempt to require health warnings on billboard ads for sugary drinks is unfair and misleading because the messages imply that sodas are uniquely dangerous when they aren’t really dangerous at all, a beverage industry lawyer told a federal appeals court Monday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

Vaccinations rise when parents talk with other parents – Parents who are unsure about vaccinating their children become less hesitant after talking to parents who support vaccines, finds a Kaiser Permanente study conducted in Washington state. Sacramento Bee article

Why are breast-cancer rates rising among Asian-Americans in California? – The new findings, released last week by the Fremont-based Cancer Prevention Institute of California, show the largest increase in breast cancer rates in the Golden State is occurring among Koreans and Southeast Asians. Japanese-Americans showed the slowest increases, but suffered the highest breast cancer rates among seven Asian-American groups in the study. San Jose Mercury News article

Land Use/Housing

Fresno’s revised housing plan earns state approval — The set of city policies outlining Fresno’s goals for future housing has been revised to satisfy deficiencies identified by the state and local community advocates. Fresno Bee article

The Fruit Yard wants to hold outdoor concerts, but faces opposition from neighbors — The Fruit Yard is proposing a 3,500-person amphitheater for outdoor concerts at its 44-acre site at Geer Road and Highway 132 east of Modesto. Modesto Bee article

Could ‘micro-apartments’ be downtown Sacramento’s answer to high rents? — The city of Sacramento has set a goal of 10,000 new housing units downtown in the next 10 years, 60 percent of them for middle-income earners. City Councilman Steve Hansen said he envisions a return to the boom years downtown in the 1940s and 1950s, when tens of thousands of people lived close to jobs, shopping and theaters. Sacramento Bee article


BART to shell out big bucks to catch fare cheats – BART is planning to spend $800,000 next year to hire a team of six full-time fare inspectors to roam the line and hunt down fare cheats who supposedly are costing the ailing rail line millions of dollars a year in lost revenue. San Francisco Chronicle article

Some families blame phone makers for distracted driving deaths — Analysts say Apple and other smartphone manufacturers could add technology that forcibly shuts off text messaging and other distracting features for drivers. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Domestic violence happens in every community, and studies show that the presence of a gun dramatically increases the risk that the relationship will end in death.

Modesto Bee – Congressman Jeff Denham gets an overdue earful from angry constituents; By keeping Santos, voters can help make Oakdale Irrigation District a better district.

Sacramento Bee –- What Sacramento’s jaywalking tickets tell us about justice or lack of it.

Stockton RecordCheers and jeers: Unfortunate overtime spending, gang crackdown and other issues.