April 19, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Rudy Salas gets some hometown love after Sacramento strike — Much of Sacramento is unhappy with Assemblyman Rudy Salas right now. But back home in Kern County, the Democrat is getting a lot of love for his vote against SB 1, a transportation tax measure that passed the state Legislature on April 6. Bakersfield Californian article

Four GOP leaders will skip Ann Coulter’s visit next week to Modesto — Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter has the right to speak her mind, four Republican leaders said at Monday night’s town hall meeting in Turlock. And they all plan to be elsewhere when she visits the area April 28. Modesto Bee article

Valley politics

Jeff Jardine: Question-and-deflect session with Denham ensured acrimony at town hall in Denair – They asked Jeff Denham where he stood on health care insurance, meaning Obamacare or whatever mother of all insurance bombs Paul Ryan and the GOP might drop on millions of Americans the next time they try to replace or eradicate it. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Fresno Bee: While other Valley Republicans face town hall heat, Nunes goes AWOL — Those holding the town hall clearly are intent on embarrassing Nunes and portraying him as someone who either does not want to take the time to meet with voters or someone who does not want to face the heat. Nunes is the only one who can render such portrayals false. The sooner the better. The longer he waits to schedule a town hall in the Valley, the more pent-up frustration he will face. Fresno Bee editorial

Tubbs asked to join network of Democratic leaders — Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs is among 14 leaders from across the country named to a panel of leaders working to develop policies that help cities grow. NewDEAL (Developing Exceptional American Leaders) is a network of innovative state and local Democrats from across the country. Stockton Record article


‘Dreamer,’ 23, sues after he is deported by Trump administration – A 23-year-old man has sued the Trump administration over his deportation to Mexico in February, saying he has permission to live and work in the United States under an Obama-era immigration program that protects young people who were brought into the country illegally as children. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Congress: Fix H-1Bs before Trump meddles for real — Trump’s “Hire American” line misses the point, but Silicon Valley’s H-1B visa system does need fixing. It shouldn’t take a STEM genius to make room for the next Elon Musk while keeping help desks in America. Sacramento Bee editorial

Tech companies are fine with H-1B reform – as long as it doesn’t affect their companies – President Trump says his new executive order will force tech companies to hire more American workers. But Silicon Valley leaders, who rely heavily on H-1B visas for high-skilled employees, say they’re not the problem.  LA Times article

Other areas

California bill would make it harder to punish police officers who have been accused of lying –  It would be more difficult for police departments in California to discipline officers accused of lying under under a plan proposed by a Los Angeles lawmaker. LA Times article

DHS’ Kelly takes hard line on pot in major speech, closing ranks with Sessions — Two days after downplaying the role of marijuana in the nation’s drug war, Department of Homeland Security John Kelly changed course on Tuesday, calling it a “potentially dangerous gateway drug” and saying his agency would continue to arrest and investigate those who traded in it in violation of federal law. McClatchy Newspapers article

Should selling home-cooked meals be a crime in California? — Ruelas is among those now pushing for Assembly Bill 626 to legalize small-scale home cooking operations. The measure, from Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, would require individuals to obtain a permit, meet health and safety standards, and keep annual gross sales below $50,000. Sacramento Bee article

A month after firing all U.S. attorneys, no new ones in place at Justice Department – Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making aggressive law enforcement a top priority, directing his federal prosecutors across the country to crack down on illegal immigrants and “use every tool” they have to go after violent criminals and drug traffickers. But the attorney general does not have a single U.S. attorney in place to lead his tough-on-crime efforts across the country. Washington Post article

Pie-thrower’s attorneys want ex-Mayor Johnson to testify at trial — Attorneys for Sean Thompson, the activist for the homeless facing felony assault charges for hitting former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson in the face with a pie at a charity event, are subpoenaing Johnson to testify at trial in the incident and are demanding any police reports that name Johnson as a suspect in alleged assaults. Sacramento Bee article

State opens nepotism investigation at troubled tax board — The California tax board Gov. Jerry Brown sanctioned last week is now facing an expanded investigation into alleged nepotism in its workforce. Board of Equalization managers must respond by Wednesday to a survey seeking information about employees who are related to other workers at the tax-collecting agency, which has 4,800 workers. Sacramento Bee article

Dog the Bounty Hunter defends bail: ‘It’s not the poor man that runs’ — Hundreds of bail agents convened at the Capitol on Tuesday to oppose Assembly Bill 42, one of two measures moving through the Legislature this year that would largely eliminate the use of money bail in California. The bill ultimately advanced out of the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 4-2 vote. Among those testifying was Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman, star of several reality shows about his work capturing bail fugitives. Sacramento Bee article

Supreme Court urged to give church schools an equal right to state funds — The Supreme Court, with its conservative majority restored, will hear a major religion case on Wednesday and decide whether states must give church schools an equal right to receive certain kinds of public funds. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Black college students could benefit from Trump’s worker visa order — Science and technology students at the nation’s historically black colleges could get a boost from President Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at altering a visa program that brings highly skilled workers to the United States. McClatchy Newspapers article

News Stories – Top Stories

Valley cities continue to dominate dirty-air report card – California has made progress in cleaning up air pollution since the first American Lung Association’s State of the Air report 18 years ago, but the state continues to have the most polluted cities in the country. And the Valley continues to rank among the most ozone and soot-filled areas. Fresno Bee article

State instructor out on paid leave after Trump Twitter controversy – The Fresno State instructor who caught the eye of the Secret Service after posting to Twitter that President Donald Trump “must hang” is taking a voluntary leave of absence from the university. Lars Maischak, who has worked as a history lecturer at Fresno State since 2006, has “agreed upon a voluntary leave of absence” effective immediately and lasting through the spring semester, according to a university statement issued on Tuesday. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Jobs and the Economy

Cal Water to explain proposed rate increase to Bakersfield council – Interested in why California Water Service Company plans to raise rates on its Bakersfield customers by 1.49 percent in 2018? Cal Water will explain the proposed rate increase to the Bakersfield City Council Wednesday. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton City Council: Future of city-run golf courses uncertain — The future of the Swenson and Van Buskirk Park golf courses will be closely followed as the city determines whether it should continue to operate them or repurpose the properties. Stockton Record article

Famed Northern California winery site to become pot production center — Marijuana investors are converting a famed Mendocino County winery site into a major regional processing center for cannabis. Flow Kana, a San Francisco Bay-area based marijuana venture, has announced it has purchased 80 acres once owned by the founding family of Fetzer Vineyards, one of California’s largest wine producers. Sacramento Bee article

Two years later, soda tax hasn’t hurt Berkeley businesses – Industry groups, who called the levy a “grocery tax,” said it would hit sales for smaller grocers like Murad. But a recent study by the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health and Oakland’s Public Health Institute suggests that’s not true. (The Chronicle reported preliminary findingsfrom the study in October.) San Francisco Chronicle article

LA employees lose last-ditch appeal for pensions at CalPERS — Retirees from a defunct job-training program in Los Angeles County appealed to save their pensions Tuesday but did not persuade the CalPERS’ administrators to make up for benefits that their employer stopped paying. Sacramento Bee article

Airbnb warns that LA’s budget could suffer from restricting short-term rentals – Airbnb is warning Los Angeles leaders that the city could face a budgetary blow if it restricts how many days Angelenos can rent out rooms or whole homes for short stays. LA Times article

NASA: Central Sierra Nevada snowpack larger than previous four years combined – The Central Sierra Nevada snowpack this year is larger than the previous four years combined, according to new data from NASA.  Capital Public Radio report

Lois Henry: 20 years of water restrictions for fish have been hard on humans — Farmers have griped for years about how environmental restrictions on the amount of water pumped from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta have pinched their operations. Now an economic report puts actual numbers to that griping. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Expert performed autopsy on Oroville Dam spillway. Here’s what he found — As state officials clamp down on records at Oroville Dam, one of the country’s foremost experts on catastrophic engineering failures has used state inspection reports, photographs and historical design specifications to piece together an autopsy detailing why the spillway at the country’s tallest dam failed so spectacularly this winter. Sacramento Bee article

Watchdogs and feds say San Luis Reservoir at risk if earthquake strikes — Some of the same people who warned state leaders about the probability of Oroville Dam failing are now sounding the alarm at San Luis Reservoir in Merced County. Valley Public Radio report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Judge: No sealing Silva’s grand jury transcript – A judge on Tuesday denied former Mayor Anthony Silva’s request to seal a transcript of the grand jury hearing that led to his indictment on embezzlement charges. But disagreement over the meaning of a single word — “delivery” — means it’s unclear when the transcript might actually become public. Stockton Record article

Actress, activist against human trafficking Mira Sorvino wows crowd at CSUB – The horror the victims suffer is almost too much to contemplate. And yet, we can’t combat the abomination that is human trafficking unless we first acknowledge that it exists. That’s why Oscar-winning actress and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador Mira Sorvino came to Bakersfield, to deliver the Kegley Institute of Ethics 31st Annual Charles W. Kegley Memorial Lecture, held Tuesday night at CSU Bakersfield’s Doré Theatre. Bakersfield Californian article

Manteca Police fight human trafficking – Multiple law enforcement agencies conducted an operation against human trafficking that resulted in the arrest of more than a dozen people in Manteca last week. Stockton Record article

Modesto deploys police cadets in city parks — The Police Department is deploying another tool to deal with bad behavior and crime in city parks: its police cadets. The cadets – 18- to 25-year-olds who work part time while attending school – work in pairs and patrol parks in cars and on foot. They also patrol the Virginia Corridor, the paved trail popular with walkers, joggers and bicyclists. Modesto Bee article

Police: Jaywalking tickets that largely cited black people part of traffic safety plan — Facing questions about whether they unfairly targeted black residents, Sacramento police now say a cluster of jaywalking tickets issued in the North Sacramento area – nearly half to African Americans – were part of a safety program to reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries. Sacramento Bee article

Fewer shootings by police –that the goal of new rules adopted by LA Police Commission —  The Los Angeles Police Commission voted Tuesday to require officers to try, whenever possible, to defuse tense encounters before firing their guns — a policy shift that marks a significant milestone in the board’s attempts to curb shootings by police. LA Times article


Fresno school administrator tapped as new chief for Sacramento City Unified – Sacramento City Unified School District trustees have named Fresno school administrator Jorge Aguilar as their next superintendent, the district announced Tuesday. Trustees chose Aguilar, 44, during a closed session Monday night. They must still approve terms of Aguilar’s contract with the district, spokesman Alex Barrios said. Sacramento Bee article

A child of immigrants, UC Merced chief mirrors the student population – UC Merced’s new police chief is an immigrant and first-generation college student, a reflection of the college’s population, officials said Tuesday. Chou Her was sworn in Tuesday as police chief at UC Merced by Chancellor Dorothy Leland. Merced Sun-Star article

Calling all future attorneys: Fresno Unified to revive law pathway at Bullard High — Bullard High School is reviving a program that aims to prepare students interested in pursuing a legal career. The law and civil justice pathway was originally launched at Bullard High in 2006 in an attempt to make it Fresno Unified’s “first law magnet school.” But the program was ultimately shuttered: a courtroom was built at the school, but the curriculum lacked support. Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield among the most affordable cities nationwide for teachers – If you’re a teacher, Bakersfield is one of the best places in the nation to work, according to a new report released by ABODO, an apartment listing website. Bakersfield ranked seventh in the nation, based on median income versus average rent prices. Fresno was the only other city in California to make the top 10, ranking fifth. Bakersfield Californian article

No progress seen on housing crunch for San Francisco teachers — It’s been nearly a month since scores of teachers filled the Board of Supervisors chambers to tell heart-wrenching stories of their living conditions in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Two- and three-hour daily commutes. In-law units with no kitchens. Couch surfing after an eviction. City and district officials said they were moved by the teachers’ testimony and vowed to do better. They haven’t. San Francisco Chronicle article

Graduation and dropout rates: Look up California districts and high schools — EdSource has created a database that families and educators can use to look up how well their districts and schools are doing in getting students their diplomas within four years. They can also search for dropout rates and measurements of how many students are taking more than four years to finish high school. EdSource article

Civil rights group says schools must address student anxieties on immigration enforcement – School districts that fail to address the anxieties experienced by undocumented students as a result of federal immigration policies of the Trump administration may be violating their students’ constitutional rights to a meaningful education, said Thomas Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). EdSource article

Yosemite Community College District picks chancellor finalists, all men — The Yosemite Community College District has selected an all-male slate of chancellor finalists to succeed retired Chancellor Joan Smith, who with two female college presidents made for an all-female reign that’s rare in higher education. Modesto Bee article

Modesto City Schools chooses Map 3 to divide area voters — The Modesto City Schools board put a priority on future growth as it divided the district’s large high school territory into seven trustee areas. The change to electing seats by neighborhood will start this November, deciding a majority of board seats. Modesto Bee article

Eloy Ortiz Oakley: Community colleges changing career training for future jobs – The chancellor for California Community Colleges writes, “Employers currently depend on workforce training programs, such as those provided by the 113-campus California Community Colleges system, to train and educate workers for a vast range of industry sectors. With more than 2.6 million students, ours is the largest education system in the nation. While also preparing students for admission to a four-year university, we provide career technical education training for those eager to enter the job market.” Oakley op-ed in Sacramento Bee


More than 90 percent of Californians live with unhealthy air – The American Lung Association says California cities continue to have the most polluted air in the country. The annual State of the Air report also finds wildfires and drought are contributing to an increased number of days with air pollution from soot. Capital Public Radio report

Bay Area ranked among nation’s worst spots for air pollution — Even as the nation makes strides cleaning up dirty air, many parts of California, including the Bay Area, are struggling to reduce air pollution in the face of climate change. San Francisco Chronicle article

The trees that make Southern California shady and green are dying.  Fast — The trees that shade, cool and feed people from Ventura County to the Mexican border are dying so fast that within a few years it’s possible the region will look, feel, sound and smell much less pleasant than it does now. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Bakersfield Californian: Don’t overlook focus on valley fever prevention — We like to think we’re winning the battle against valley fever, and in some ways we are. Educational outreach efforts are gaining momentum; more people know of the illness than perhaps ever before. Bakersfield Californian editorial

See how much child care costs in each California county — Child care subsidies are available – and widely used. But they are subject to income limits and usually only go to families making less than $50,000 a year. These maps break down the costs of day care in California by county. Sacramento Bee article

Man with 140-pound tumor to have story aired on national television — Remember Roger Logan, the Mississippi man who traveled cross-country this year in a cargo van to have a 140-pound tumor removed from his abdomen at a Bakersfield hospital? Bakersfield Californian article


California pedestrian deaths decline – finally — Pedestrian deaths are on the rise throughout the nation, but California is bucking the trend. Preliminary data by the Governors Highway Safety Organization shows an increase in pedestrian fatalities throughout the United States, rising 12 percent to 5,997 in 2016. Yet California, home to the highest number of pedestrian deaths for years, is finally seeing a drop. Capitol Weekly article

BART pegs fare cheat losses at $15 million to $25 million a year — Fare cheats who jump fare gates, sneak in behind another passenger or simply stroll through swing gates are costing BART somewhere between $15 million and $25 million a year, BART officials said Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article

Other areas

Disabled placards for thousands of dead Californians part of program abuse – California’s Department of Motor Vehicles needs to significantly beef up efforts to prevent fraud and abuse in the state’s disabled person placard program, a new state audit recommends, noting that officials accept applications lacking required medical documentation, issue too many duplicates, and fail to cancel the placards of people who have died. Sacramento Bee article

Michael Fitzgerald: New at the zoo: It’s leader — Micke Grove Zoo has a new leader, a Vegan with a lifelong animal fascination. Kevin Hertell brings modern zoo philosophy and decades of wildlife work. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian Don’t overlook focus on valley fever prevention.

Fresno Bee – While other Valley Republicans face town hall heat, Devin Nunes goes AWOL.

Sacramento Bee –- Trump’s “Hire American” line misses the point, but Silicon Valley’s H-1B visa system does need fixing. It shouldn’t take a STEM genius to make room for the next Elon Musk while keeping help desks in America; The president isn’t releasing White House visitor logs or his tax returns, while issuing secret ethics waivers for ex-lobbyists. Instead of draining the swamp, he’s losing the public’s confidence that he will keep his promises.