April 21, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Senator who voted for gas tax hike says he received death threats after cell number, address shared — The only Republican lawmaker to vote for the controversial $52 billion transportation deal says he received hundreds of angry calls on his personal cellphone and at home, some threatening, the day after the measure passed in the California Legislature. “Look, I’m a grown man and I’m an elected official. I expect it,” said Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Modesto. “Talking to my wife, come on. Talking to my kids, that’s unbelievable.” Modesto Bee article

California election officials push $450 million voting machine bond for 2018 – California elections officials want state lawmakers to place a $450 million voting-equipment borrowing measure on the June 2018 ballot, saying that many counties’ voting machines rely on outdated equipment that make them vulnerable to breakdowns and hacking. Sacramento Bee article

Gov. Brown

Climate change is looming catastrophe for California, Brown says — Global warming is a looming catastrophe for California, the nation and the world, but few people — politicians and the general public alike — want to talk about it, Gov. Jerry Brown told a San Francisco conference on climate change Thursday.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Jerry Brown announces trip to China, the world’s ‘great hope’ on climate change — Gov. Jerry Brown jabbed repeatedly at President Donald Trump’s skepticism of climate change on Thursday, contending that China has stepped into the role of the world’s “great hope.”  Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Town hall attendees bring up immigrant, health care concerns — Cathy Brass didn’t hesitate to answer when asked why she was attending the town hall meeting for a better future at College of the Sequoias Wednesday evening. Organizers said they had invited Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Visalia) to attend the meeting, but he declined the invitation. His office staffers cited a scheduling conflict. Visalia Times-Delta article

Valadao’s ‘Wall of Shame’ — Protesters gathered in front of Congressman David Valadao’s (R-Hanford) office on North Irwin Street in Hanford with a “Wall of Shame” that highlighted issues they think Valadao isn’t addressing. Hanford Sentinel article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Feinstein is waiting for family health issues to be resolved before announcing 2018 plans — Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday she is waiting for some family health issues to be resolved before she announces whether she’ll run for another term in 2018. LA Times article


Kern sheriff’s non-sanctuary plan a message, not a legal tool — Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood wants to make it crystal clear he will work with federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to deport immigrants in the country illegally – as long as he is able. Bakersfield Californian article

Sacramento Bee: What’s wrong with faster deportations? Ask this Dreamer — Juan Manuel Montes, a Dreamer from the border town of Calexico, is suing the Trump administration over his deportation. He says he’s the first immigrant with DACA status to be removed from the country under President Donald Trump. He might not be the last. Sacramento Bee editorial

Other areas

New site shows which California elected officials ask special interests to donate to their favorite charities — Elected state officials in California ask special interests to donate millions of dollars annually to their favorite charities. Now residents can get a clearer picture of who is asking, who is giving and who is getting the money. LA Times article

Embattled tax board director: My job was threatened — The executive director of a troubled tax board told a Senate hearing Thursday that the agency is “at a tipping point” and acknowledged that he has been threatened with his dismissal. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Lawmakers who believe in transparency ought to vote to close campaign finance loophole — AB 1234 would shut a perfectly good loophole that has been lubricating campaigns for a decade. Political party leaders, politicians and moneyed interests would prefer that it go away, so it probably will. Sacramento Bee editorial

Ann Coulter rejects Cal offer to switch date of speech — A day after canceling a scheduled speech by Ann Coulter for security reasons, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said Thursday that the right-wing pundit’s insistence on coming anyway persuaded him to rethink her banishment. San Francisco Chronicle article

Victor Davis Hanson: Apocalyptic progressive strikes California — These days, shortages of credit, water, oil or adequate roads are no longer seen as age-old challenges to a tragic human existence. Instead of overcoming them with courage, ingenuity, technology and scientific breakthroughs, they are seen as existential “teachable moments.” In other words, crises are not all bad – if they lead the public to more progressive government. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Judges must not invest in pot, California committee says — California state judges should just say no when it comes to investing in cannabis businesses, a judicial ethics committee said this week. San Francisco Chronicle article

William Bezdek: Returning to pre-ACA insurance market would be folly –  The retired Bakersfield physician writes, “The idea of subsidized high-risk pools is an admission that the private insurance industry is incapable of providing adequate insurance. It is better that they get out of the way. Do not repeat history! The only rational solution is to nationalize the whole system, i.e., Medicare for all.” Bezdek op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Gerrymander test heads to court in ‘pivotal’ moment – Supreme Court justices have long said that drawing districts based on extreme partisanship is unconstitutional, but haven’t found a way to decide when lines are crossed. New York Times article

Evangelical leaders find climate change message is a tough sell – Many evangelical Christians believe that stewardship of the Earth and taking care of the poor and sick are core to their faith. Yet roughly 8 in 10 voted for Donald Trump, who as president has proposed cutting the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 31 percent, the National Institutes of Health by 18.3 percent and isn’t sure if he wants the United States to participate in the Paris climate change accord. San Francisco Chronicle article

Presidential Politics

No negotiations yet between California and Trump administration on vehicle rules — Earlier this month, a White House official floated the possibility of negotiations with California to resolve a brewing dispute over vehicle emission rules. The federal government has started the process of rolling them back, while state regulators here are pushing forward with tough pollution-reduction requirements, raising the possibility that automakers would need to meet different standards in different places.  However, California hasn’t heard from the Trump administration about beginning talks. LA Times article

Trump is finding trade, like health care, is hard – President Trump had promised to quickly pass a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. He later acknowledged that health care is “an unbelievably complex subject.” He is finding the same goes for global trade. San Francisco Chronicle article

How Berkeley became a hotbed of violence in Trump era — In canceling a planned speech by conservative author Ann Coulter at the University of California, Berkeley, school officials made a startling admissionWednesday: They could not guarantee the safety of the controversial speaker or her crowd.  Politico article

News Stories – Top Stories

Affidavit tells how acquaintance of rampage killer helped him escape motel killing — After a security guard was killed at Motel 6, an acquaintance of Kori Ali Muhammad tried to take evidence from the scene, but was stopped by hotel security and a witness, according to a Fresno police detective’s affidavit made public Thursday in Fresno County Superior Court. Fresno Bee article; ‘Confessed killer Muhammad to make first court appearance Friday’ in Fresno Bee

California treasurer: Lawsuit didn’t hard rail bond sale – California’s state treasurer says ongoing legal challenges didn’t harm the sale of nearly $1.25 billion in high-speed rail bonds. Spokesman Marc Lifsher says all the bonds were claimed Thursday and treasury officials are happy with the results. AP article

Jobs and the Economy

Modesto stakes claim on first payouts from countywide transportation tax — Should Modesto’s plan for a Highway 132 bypass be first in line for regional money raised by the new Measure L transportation tax? Some expected a debate over that question on Wednesday among leaders throughout Stanislaus County. Instead, they struggled over the wisdom of starting with a two-lane expressway when it might be possible – and less costly, in the long run – to build four lanes all at once. Modesto Bee article

More jobs for city of Lemoore? — The city of Lemoore could possibly hire five new employees if the city decides to bring the Landscape and Lighting Maintenance District back in-house after eight years. Hanford Sentinel article

Optimism, e-commerce, millennials driving Fresno real estate – After a strong — even exceptional — 2016 in portions of Fresno County’s real estate market, this year may be just as good or better, a group of real estate experts told a crowd of business people Wednesday afternoon at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Fresno Convention Center. The Business Journal article

Event toasts job creators in Stanislaus — More than 50 employers garnered praised Wednesday for creating jobs in Stanislaus County last year. A gathering at Dust Bowl Brewing in Turlock recognized employers that added at least 20 jobs or grew their staffs by at least 20 percent. It was the second annual event put on by Opportunity Stanislaus, which promotes economic growth. Modesto Bee article

Region’s housing market gains momentum; inventory still lags – Despite limited inventory, the greater Sacramento region’s residential real estate market picked up steam in March, according to the latest report by Lyon Real Estate. Sacramento Bee article


California Senate confirms former Sen. Isadore Hall for farm labor board over GOP objections — The state Senate on Thursday confirmed former state Sen. Isadore Hall III for the Agricultural Labor Relations Board despite opposition from Republicans.  LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

That salad will cost you. California veggie prices soar because of rain — After five years of drought, this spring’s deluge has turned California’s “Salad Bowl” into a soggy agricultural mess. That’s created stratospheric prices for lettuce, broccoli and other salad ingredients grown along California’s coast. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Shooting victim Mark Gassett remembered as ‘so loving’; kin and friends release balloons with messages for him in heaven – Surrounded by candles and balloons, family and community members gathered near downtown Fresno to remember Mark James Gassett, one of three men killed during Tuesday’s rampage shooting. Fresno Bee article

Family, friends honor slain security guard with blood drive – One of the many ways that Carl Allen Williams III liked to give back to his community was to give blood regularly at the Central California Blood Center. Fresno Bee article

To remember Fresno victims, pastors walk solemn path to shooting sites, Swearengin calls for Catholic Charities support — Near one of several memorials of flowers and candles along a solemn path marking the locations where three men were fatally shot just north of downtown Fresno, the Rev. Ray Scott vowed not to let senseless violence divide his community.  Fresno Bee article

California’s death row turning into home for seniors – California’s death row houses more senior citizens than most of the state’s nursing homes. Ninety California death-row inmates are at least 65 years old, corrections records show. The number of seniors on death row has grown by nearly 500 percent since early 2006, when the state housed 16 seniors. Sacramento Bee article

Louis Medina: How deputies are like all of us, and different – The outreach and advocacy manager of the Community Action Partnership of Kern writes, “The Kern County Sheriff’s Office Community Academy is one of the best uses of taxpayer dollars I have experienced: For 13 weeks, close to 20 others and I learned about the laws of arrest, community policing, patrol procedures, gangs, drugs, jail operations, first aid, search and rescue, SWAT, K-9 unit deployment, and other important KCSO efforts.” Medina op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

More video released of police beating in Del Paso Heights — The Sacramento Police Department released additional videos Thursday afternoon in connection to an April 11 incident in which a patrol officer punched a man in the face multiple times in the Del Paso Heights neighborhood. Sacramento Bee article

Judge threatens to fine California prisons for delayed mental health treatment — California prison officials could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines a day if they can’t comply with a federal court order to eliminate delays in treatment for the most severely mentally ill inmates. KQED report


California State University cannot justify administrative growth, manager raises, audit says — The California State University system has hired new managers at more than double the rate of other employees over the past decade, perhaps unnecessarily, according to a new state audit released Thursday.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Parking problems: Bakersfield College students frustrated over new restrictions — Fed up with a lack of parking in their neighborhoods, homeowners near Bakersfield College successfully petitioned the City Council to expand parking permit requirements in those areas, much to the frustration of struggling college students.  Bakersfield Californian article

Poll finds support for vouchers and higher school funding in California – About 60% of adults and 66% of public-school parents in a new poll said they favored vouchers that parents could use for their children’s education at any public, private, or parochial school. Republicans (67%) were more likely than independents (56%) and far more likely than Democrats (46%) to hold that view.  LA Times article; Joel Fox in Fox & Hounds

UC officials will ask judge to halt alleged health fraud scheme they claim stole millions — The University of California is alleging that it’s uncovered a scheme that targeted hundreds of students through its student healthcare plan and cost the UC almost $12 million. LA Times article

Whittier Law School is closing, due in part to low student achievement — When Whittier College officials announced this week they would close their affiliated law school in Costa Mesa, students and faculty reacted with shock, outrage and some tears. But legal experts said Thursday that Whittier has long been on a downslide as it struggles with challenges hitting many law schools across the country. LA Times article

Biliteracy gives grads a boost – When deciding on which foreign language class Natasha Prasad would sign up for her freshman year of high school, she ended up picking French, and for good reason. Stockton Record article

California bill that critics say could cripple charter schools back in spotlight – A bill that would have allowed only school districts to approve new charter petitions is very much alive despite being shelved Monday by its sponsor. EdSource article

Large apartment complex aimed at Merced students moves forward — A proposed apartment complex at the northeastern edge of the city aimed at college students cleared the Merced Planning Commission this week. Merced Sun-Star article


Light of the world: San Joaquin County churches embrace solar power — The flowers in the garden at Church of the Presentation in north Stockton are as colorful as ever, but it’s the deep blue solar panels atop the church’s red-tile roof that might surprise visitors these days. Presentation is the latest local faith community to go solar, with a 535-panel system that could virtually eliminate an energy bill that now tops $67,000 per year. Stockton Record article

Health/Human Services

Advanced stroke treatment introduced at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto — An advanced unit at Doctors Medical Center of Modesto has brought lifesaving treatment closer to stroke victims in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. Modesto Bee article

Bakersfield Memorial Hospital fined $75,000 in connection with patient death — Bakersfield Memorial Hospital has been fined $75,000 after a state investigation determined nurses failed to provide adequate supervision to a patient who choked to death last March, according to a California Department of Public Health investigation. Bakersfield Californian article

Modesto doctors mum on allegations of large fraud, kickback scheme — Five Modesto doctors are among more than two dozen physicians, pharmacists, business owners and a physician assistant charged in a $40 million fraudulent medical billing and kickback scheme, authorities announced Thursday. Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing

New Kern County CAO developing vision for parks — When it comes to the future of Hart Park and all of Kern County’s parks, Ryan Alsop is willing to stick his neck out. The county’s new chief administrative officer inherited plenty of problems, including a budget crisis that could humble ambitions in even the most determined of men. Bakersfield Californian article

Crowd demands park extension — A crowd of Hanford residents filled City Council chambers this week to demand the city keep a city-owned vacant parcel next to Hidden Valley Park and develop it into parkland or park-related facilities.  Hanford Sentinel article

Granville eyes Lemoore for development — Fresno-based Granville Homes has expressed interest in developing a multifamily residential project in Lemoore, west of State Route 41 and north of West Hills College, and is lobbying the city to facilitate the project. The well-known homebuilder has no projects currently in Kings County. Hanford Sentinel article

Stanislaus County planning approves plan for outdoor concerts at The Fruit Yard — Stanislaus County planners approved a permit Thursday for The Fruit Yard to hold outdoor concerts in a 3,500-person amphitheater. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Wilma Quan-Schecter is Fresno’s new city manager, first woman to hold the job — Assistant City Manager Wilma Quan-Schecter has been chosen by Mayor Lee Brand to become Fresno’s new city manager. She was named Thursday to the top spot in city government, having already served as a deputy city manager. Fresno Bee article; Valley Public Radio report

Bakersfield Californian: Marijuana is legal, but that doesn’t mean you should smoke it — Have fun — just use caution and show some regard for your nonsmoking fellow citizens. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian Marijuana is legal, but that doesn’t mean you should smoke it.

Fresno Bee – Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to implement the 2016 marijuana legalization initiative is a work in progress, raising serious questions about inspections, taxation, licensing, and more. As with all propositions, the devil is baked into the details.

Merced Sun-Star – What really cost Bill O’Reilly his job at Fox News.

Modesto Bee – What really cost Bill O’Reilly his job at Fox News; More fairness might fix H-1B program.

Sacramento Bee –- What’s wrong with faster deportations? Ask this Dreamer; AB 1234 would shut a perfectly good loophole that has been lubricating campaigns for a decade. Political party leaders, politicians and moneyed interests would prefer that it go away, so it probably will.

Stockton Record – Asparagus Festival keeps plugging along, deserves support.