April 22, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Trump can’t ‘intimidate’ California in sanctuary crackdown, state’s top cop says – The U.S. Department of Justice signaled its intent Friday to follow through on a widespread immigration crackdown promised by President Donald Trump, warning “sanctuary” jurisdictions across the nation, including California, that the federal government would withhold law enforcement funds if they don’t cooperate with immigration authorities. Sacramento Bee article; McClatchy Newspapers article

Senator: Kern will get roads money despite no votes — The author of a controversial gas tax bill assured local officials Friday that Kern County won’t be punished because all of its state legislators voted against the legislation. “It doesn’t matter to me how people voted,” state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, told contractors and local transportation officials at a forum hosted by the Kern Minority Contractors Association. “I don’t care. I care about the people of California.” Bakersfield Californian article

Valley politics

Secretary of State takes youth voter drive to Linden — On Friday, Secretary of State Alex Padilla stopped by Linden High School to discuss the importance of voter registration and voting and how they, students like Castillou, Lima, and Medina, can shape decisions on the issues that matter to each one of them. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Kamala Harris gets star treatment and no protests at her own town hall — Sen. Kamala Harris of California, a Democratic star showing up on lists of potential 2020 presidential candidates, was embraced with a resounding ovation as she condemned the Trump administration at her first town hall meeting on Friday.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Schiff could use Russia probe as Senate springboard – The congressman from Hollywood has landed his breakout role — investigating President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia — and it might be Adam Schiff’s path to the Senate. Politico article

Feinstein urges help from Silicon Valley on Caltrain electrification — Sen. Dianne Feinstein called on Silicon Valley leaders Friday to lean on Central Valley congressional representatives to get funding for the electrification of Caltrain released.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California Politics Podcast: Town hall time — This week: California’s members of Congress face their constituents in a series of testy town halls across the state. Plus, we take a look at how April tax revenues are shaping the budget negotiations that begin soon in Sacramento. With John Myers and Melanie Mason of the Los Angeles Times and Marisa Lagos of KQED News. California Politics Podcast


Justice Department warns sanctuary cities in California, 8 other jurisdictions to cooperate with immigration enforcement — The Justice Department on Friday fired an opening shot in the Trump administration’s crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities, sending letters to nine jurisdictions asking for proof that they are cooperating with immigration enforcement, and indicating they are at risk of losing federal grants. The letters went to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, as well as officials in Chicago, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami, Milwaukee, New York and Cook County, Ill. LA Times articleKQED report

Giving driver’s licenses to those here illegally transformed many lives. Then came Trump – President Trump’s crackdown on immigration has spawned anxiety among those license-holders, many of whom worry that the cards will be used to identify them as being here illegally and lead to their deportations. That has prompted some to avoid getting the licenses, despite assurances from the Department of Motor Vehicles that it will not share information with immigration officials. LA Times article

Advocates fear GOP healthcare bill would limit services to immigrants – Lily is just one of the thousands of immigrants throughout Kern County in fear of what options will be left for them if a Republican healthcare proposal that strips funding from Medi-Cal would pass. Legislation was introduced last month, but withdrawn at the last minute because of a lack of votes. Bakersfield Californian article

Living in limbo: California immigrant stories in Trump’s America – Four Californians share their stories of the fear and uncertainty of being an immigrant in the U.S. KQED report

Should a mistake made long ago doom this immigrant’s future? – You really get a sense of how many plastic bottles Americans use — even in an eco-friendly city like Berkeley — when you hang out at an open-air recycling facility like the Ecology Center. Trucks pull in every few minutes, dumping loads of plastic onto an enormous pile. “It’s been a big push, to collect all the plastics,” says Daniel Maher, who supervises the fleet of trucks that pick up Berkeley’s curbside recycling.  KQED report

Kevin de Leon says Trump law enforcement policy based on ‘principles of white supremacy’ – California officials reacted with defiance Friday to a threat by federal officials to withhold some $20 million in criminal justice grants from the state and its counties as part of the dispute over so-called sanctuary city policies. LA Times article

Trump’s travel ban may keep honeymooners close to home – President Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban travel from several Middle Eastern countries may be forcing couples to rethink their honeymoon destinations. LA Times article

Other areas

Could California become the next Canada for health care? – State Sen. Ricardo Lara didn’t move to Canada following Donald Trump’s win last November, but he visited last week. While touring a major research hospital in Toronto, he said he realized that American views on providing health care are becoming more Canadian. Sacramento Bee article

Eggman equal pay bill clears committee – A bill authored by Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, D-Stockton, that would ban employers from seeking the salary history of job applicants, gained some traction this week. Stockton Record article

Dan Morain: Lobbyists dismissed her as ‘Pot Girl.’ Now they want her business – Amy Jenkins took a break from a busy day in the Capitol to reminisce. When she left her job as a legislative staffer in 2014, other lobbyists warned her against representing an industry that was illicit. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Sacramento lawmaker hits back at Philip Morris, tobacco industry – A Sacramento lawmaker wants to ban retailers from offering any sort of discount on tobacco products. Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, said he was motivated to push legislation after recent news reports about Philip Morris offering California customers coupons to offset the new $2 tax increase, which went into effect April 1.  Sacramento Bee article

Senator who wrote mandatory vaccines bill attends March for Science event in Washington — So how goes the “resistance” to President Donald Trump? Protesters are gearing up for their second major event in a week, following on last weekend’s national Tax March with a March for Science planned for Saturday in cities across the country, including SacramentoSacramento Bee article

Conservative group threatens UC Berkeley over Ann Coulter appearance – A conservative group on Friday threatened to take legal action against UC Berkeley if student sponsors are not allowed to pick the date and location for an appearance by commentator Ann Coulter. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump vows to unveil tax-cut plan next week, surprising staff — President Trump promised on Friday that he would unveil a “massive” tax cut for Americans next week, vowing a “big announcement on Wednesday,” but he revealed no details about what is certain to be an enormously complicated effort to overhaul the nation’s tax code.  New York Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

Big change in high-speed rail: CEO steps down, says new leader needed – Jeff Morales, who for the past five years has been the chief executive officer in charge of California’s embattled high-speed rail project, announced Friday that he is stepping down as head of the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority. Fresno Bee article; LA Times article

Unemployment in California falls to 4.9 percent, lowest since 2006 — California piled on 19,300 jobs in March and its unemployment rate dropped to 4.9%, according to figures released Friday by the state’s Employment Development Department. That’s the first time since December 2006 that the jobless rate has fallen below 5%.  LA Times article; Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Valley unemployment rates mixed in March, still down year over year – Unemployment rates in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley were mixed in March but remained below March 2016 levels, according to data released by the California Employment Development Department. Here are the March unemployment rates, followed in parentheses by the February 2017 and March 2016 rates:


  • Fresno – 10.3 percent (10.5, 10.6)
  • Kern – 11.5 percent (10.9, 11.6)
  • Kings –11.2 percent (11.5, 11.3)
  • Madera – 10 percent (9.5, 10.5)
  • Merced – 12.2 percent (12.3, 12.4)
  • San Joaquin – 8.3 percent (8.3, 8.8)
  • Stanislaus – 8.8 percent (8.7, 9.5)
  • Tulare – 12.3 percent (12, 12.4)

Fresno County unemployment continues upward trend in year-over-year performance — The number of jobs on farms and in nonfarm industries rose in Fresno County in February, putting the county’s unemployment rate at 10.3 percent for the month – an improvement not only from January, but also compared to a year ago. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Merced County had more jobs in March, but jobless rate still among highest in state – There were 1,000 more jobs in Merced County in March than a year ago, pushing the unemployment rate down to 12.2 percent, the lowest March rate since 2007, labor market analysts said Friday. Merced Sun-Star article

Business goes boom in Tulare County — As the economy has rebounded, so has the look of businesses throughout Tulare County. Storefronts that once stood empty are being revitalized by new retailers and restaurants. In a recent Colliers Industrial Market Report for Visalia and Tulare, the area ended 2016 with a near 2 percent vacancy rate — the lowest it’s been in several years. Visalia Times-Delta article

State workers: Your bonuses are finally coming – State workers represented by SEIU Local 1000 will receive bonuses from their new contract by May 12, the State Controller’s Office says. The $2,500 bonuses will be taxed as if they are combined with an employee’s April wages, but workers will receive them in separate payments, said a spokeswoman for the Controller’s Office. Sacramento Bee article

Daniel Borenstein: City managers concerned pensions will cause more bankruptcies – Lodi City Manager Steve Schwabauer worries about his town’s fiscal solvency — and estimates roughly a third of California’s municipalities are in the same position because of rising pension costs. Borenstein in East Bay Times

Modesto puts engine company back into service – Modesto had something to celebrate this week: the Fire Department’s return to service of an engine company that had been eliminated in a 2011 budget reduction. Modesto Bee article

Timothy Foley: At Salvation Army, we help the homeless every day – The divisional commander of the Salvation Army’s Golden State Division writes, “A guest column was published April 15 in The Bee’s “Valley Voices” regarding The Salvation Army and our work here in the United States. I would like to correct some inaccuracies and clarify the mission of The Salvation Army. Our mission is ‘to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.’ This includes providing services for those living in poverty, addicted to drugs and alcohol, and helping those who are homeless. Foley op-ed in Fresno Bee

‘Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet’ job fair attracts more than just veterans – Veterans, students and job seekers of all kinds attended the annual “Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet” job and resource fair Thursday at West Hills College Lemoore’s Golden Eagle Arena. Hanford Sentinel article

Clothing retailer Bebe closing all its stores, including one in Fresno – Clothing chain Bebe says it expects to close all its stores by the end of May, making it the latest retail casualty of the migration to online shopping. Bebe has one store in the central San Joaquin Valley, in the outdoor portion of Fashion Fair mall. AP article

Addressing the San Diego-Imperial workforce job readiness dilemma – The California Community Colleges are all in to help meet the workforce needs of California employers and in giving workers access to necessary skills, as Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley wrote this week in the Sacramento Bee. In the San Diego-Imperial Region, a $3-million investment involving 10 community colleges has been certified through the Strong Workforce program to make sure that workers are trained and ready for its vibrant economy. California Forward article


Drought’s not over for everybody – Most Californians are – finally – out of the drought, but the record-setting rains have not washed away emergency conditions for all residents. Capitol Weekly article

Lodi rolls back water restrictions – The Lodi Public Works department announced this week that it will remove the Stage 2 Water Alert, allowing dining establishments to serve water without requests from customers. Stockton Record article

What went wrong at Oroville? Congressional Democrats demand answers – Citing the near disaster at Oroville Dam, a group of congressional Democrats is pushing the government’s watchdog agency to investigate federal oversight of dam safety regulations. Sacramento Bee article

Plans for major new reservoir in Santa Clara County moving forward — Hoping to boost water supplies during future droughts, Silicon Valley’s largest water provider is working on a plan to build a new $800 million dam and reservoir in the remote hills of eastern Santa Clara County, just off Pacheco Pass. San Jose Mercury News article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Fresno shooting spree: ‘Let black people go!’ Kori Ali Muhammad yells in court — A Fresno County judge on Friday ordered a psychiatric evaluation for suspected shooting-spree killer Kori Ali Muhammad, who entered the courtroom yelling, “Let black people go!” Muhammad, wearing shackles and a yellow jail jumpsuit, made his first Fresno County Superior Court appearance since the deadly shootings of the past week, but the proceedings were suspended after the defendant’s outburst. He yelled: “Let black people go and reparations.” Fresno Bee article; LA Times article; AP article; Valley Public Radio report

Cal Poly officer in SLO altercation was hired months after 2015 fatal Fresno shooting – Cal Poly University Police Department officer whose controversial takedown and arrest of a man caught on cellphone video last month was one of two officers cleared in the fatal shooting of a mentally ill Fresno man in 2015, The Tribune has learned.  San Luis Obispo Tribune article

Man dies while in police custody – Tulare County detectives are investigating the death of a man who died while in police custody Friday morning. Visalia Times-Delta article

Merced up to 91 officers after ceremony at City Hall – Merced added three new officers, including two with law enforcement experience, during a ceremony on Friday at City Hall. Officers Levi Crain, Israel Garcia and Chase Wilson took an oath from Chief Norm Andrade in front of friends and family gathered in the council chambers. The department now has 91 officers with a budget for three more, according to Andrade. Merced Sun-Star article

Black man beaten by Sacramento cop legally crossed street, pedestrian groups say – Pedestrian advocates say a Del Paso Heights man legally crossed the street before a police officer stopped him for jaywalking and repeatedly punched him in the face. Sacramento Bee article


Morning-after pill now available through vending machine at UC Davis – A vending machine at UC Davis dispensing an emergency contraceptive, known as the morning-after pill, may be one of the first of its kind on a university campus. Sacramento Bee article

Dan Schnur: Shocker: Majority of Californians back tax-funded school vouchers — If the old musical “West Side Story” were to be remade in 21st century California, it would be written as a love story between young charter school teacher Maria, and her secret paramour, Tony, a field organizer for the California Teachers Association. Schnur column in San Francisco Chronicle

Kings County graduation rates remain on par — While state graduation rates continue to increase, Kings County districts showed a very slight decrease in high school graduation rates for the first time in five years, according to the California Department of Education. Hanford Sentinel article


Last lawsuit over PG&E San Bruno explosion close to settlement — The last remaining lawsuit over the lethal 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion moved close to resolution Friday when a judge gave preliminary approval to a $90 million settlement of claims by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. shareholders against the utility’s managers and directors. San Francisco Chronicle article

Foon Rhee: Should California worry about Antarctic melting? — A new study commissioned by the state highlights the rapid loss of the Antarctic ice sheet as one of the biggest wild cards that could significantly accelerate sea level rise along California’s coast. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Video: Columnist Lois Henry follows up on Alon refinery – Columnist and enterprise reporter Lois Henry sits down to talk about her latest story involving a follow up with Bakersfield Alon Refinery and the impact the industry has locally. Bakersfield Californian article

Sustainability is the focus during Earth Day activities at UC Merced — Scholars Lane at UC Merced was lined with informational booths, games, and food vendors on Thursday, for the purpose of celebrating the annual Earth Day Festival. Merced Sun-Star article

Health/Human Services

Safe injection sites offer hope in scourge of discarded syringes — San Francisco has earned many nicknames over the years: the City by the Bay, the Paris of the West, the City That Knows How. Here’s a new suggestion: Needle City. As San Francisco politicos inch ever-so-slowly toward opening a safe-injection site where intravenous drug users can shoot up legally, the scene outside City Hall and beyond grows more dire. San Francisco Chronicle article

Modesto doctors accused in major fraud case plead not guilty; patients react — The six local doctors charged in a $40 million fraudulent medical billing and kickback scheme were arraigned in a Southern California court Wednesday and Thursday. Each of them pleaded not guilty and were released on bail amounts that ranged from $65,000 to $200,000.  Modesto Bee article

Rape Crisis Center: A peaceful place in time of turmoil — When victims of sexual assault walk through the iron gates of Family Services of Tulare County’s new Rape Crisis Center, they will be greeted with a sense of peace from a supportive staff. Although the center has been operating out of its new location on Main Street for nine months, staff opened its doors to the public, in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness month on Friday. The center is a tranquil, two-story home in downtown Visalia. Visalia Times-Delta article

Land Use/Housing

San Joaquin County meeting finds pot advocates favor cultivation, distribution — Many of the more than a dozen medical marijuana and commercial cannabis advocates who attended a public workshop hosted by San Joaquin County on Tuesday agreed that cultivation and dispensing should be permitted in unincorporated areas. But where those activities would be permitted by county officials remains to be seen. Stockton Record article

HUD orders mortgage lenders including one in Fresno, to give employees fair housing training – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Wednesday announced an agreement with California mortgage lenders, including one in Fresno, to provide fair housing training to employees. Fresno Bee article

Beekman’s back, will vie with Pat Gillum for LAFCO public seat – Former Hughson Mayor Matt Beekman, removed from the Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission in 2015 for defying pro-development marching orders of other mayors, wants back on the growth-guiding panel. But this time, instead of representing cities, Beekman – no longer a politician – would represent the public. Modesto Bee article


Kings supervisors to hear high-speed rail’s impact on fire stations — The Kings County Board of Supervisors will hold a study session at its Tuesday meeting on how California high-speed rail might affect Kings County fire stations, including their emergency response times. Hanford Sentinel article

Bakersfield freeway building: What’s built, what’s to come — How far has $630 million in Thomas Roads Improvement Program money gone upgrading Bakersfield’s major transportation corridors? A long, long way, if you step back and look at the TRIP projects the city has finished and has in the works, which we like to do every couple years. Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Lemoore Navy pilot ejects safely into Pacific Ocean — A Lemoore pilot flying a Super Hornet jet fighter safely ejected and was quickly recovered by a helicopter while conducting routine flight operations aboard the USS Carl Vinson in the Celebes Sea, the Navy reported Friday. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Sacramento Bee –- It should scare every Californian that scientists felt they had to march on Earth Day to convince the Trump administration to base its policy and funding decisions on scientific fact, not ideological fiction or conspiracy theories.