April 23, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

John Myers: To know whether California’s budget will balance, watch this month’s tax collections — Here’s a nifty, if not mind-blowing, way to think about all the tax dollars showing up right now in Sacramento: Over the past week, California collected about $8 billion in state income taxes — more money in just a handful of days than New Mexico’s general fund receives in an entire year. And yet, the sobering reality is that we need a lot more. Myers in LA Times

Dan Walters: Academic turf wars block access as California faces college gap — Ideally, we’d merge our disparate, often competing systems into one seamless system that would meet the needs of the state and its students without bogging down in academic turf spats. Short of that, we need to introduce much more flexibility into the systems so that they serve the state’s needs, not those of education bureaucrats. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Democrats could tighten grip on California political control – Republicans have a lock on power in Congress and the White House. But far across the country in California, the party of Reagan is seeing yet another threat to its fraying relevance. Democrats who control every statewide office and command the Legislature are pushing changes in two of the state’s largest counties that could leave California even more tightly in a Democratic vice. AP article

Tom Steyer is on the fence about running for office, but his March for Science address sounded like a stump speech — Will environmental activist and mega political donor Tom Steyer make a run for governor? Keep waiting for that answer. Steyer gave a fiery speech in front of a large, cheering crowd at the Los Angeles March for Science Saturday that had all the hallmarks of a stump speech, including talk about rebuilding the state, creating jobs and helping children. LA Times article


50,000 Haitian Americans fear deportation if U.S. does not renew their protected status — TPS, or Temporary Protected Status, was approved by the secretary of Homeland Security for Haiti after the earthquake. That designation allows Haitians already in the U.S. to apply to stay here “due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely,” according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. LA Times article

Other areas

How ‘schools not prisons’ became a favorite rallying cry for criminal justice reformers – A bill winding its way through the Legislature proposes a creative way to fund early childhood education: imposing a tax on companies that do business with California’s prison systems. LA Times article

Valley residents participate in March for Science – Residents throughout the San Joaquin Valley participated in March for Science events calling attention to the importance of science in today’s political climate.  Fresno Bee video; Los Banos Enterprise article; Modesto Bee article

March for Science draws thousands to Capitol, hopes to ‘Make America think again’ — An estimated 10,000-15,000 people participated in the local March for Science, part of a series of rallies held globally Saturday in support of the sciences.  Sacramento Bee article

Willie Brown: Berkeley betrays its free speech legacy – The battle over free speech in Berkeley has flipped the two sides in the old generation gap. When the Free Speech Movement got rolling at UC Berkeley in the 1960s, the whole point was winning the right to speak out about civil rights, sex, the Vietnam War or anything else on your mind. Brown column in San Francisco Chronicle

For 90 years, Californians have tried to kill this tax board. This is why they failed — A California tax agency called “duplicative” or worse for nearly a century by government reformers had its closest call with destruction when the Terminator came looking for it. Sacramento Bee article

Marcos Breton: He hit former Mayor Johnson in the face with a pie. Now he wants another crack — Coming soon to a criminal courtroom near you: the trial of a man who crammed a pie in the face of former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson last fall. It’s preposterous that this case is going to trial at all, but we’re only days away from it because the accused pie guy – activist for the homeless Sean Thompson – wants his day in court and ostensibly a few more moments in the spotlight. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

Presidential Politics

On Earth Day, Trump says he’s committed to preservation.  His record doesn’t support that — To mark Earth Day, President Trump said that his administration was “committed to preserving the natural beauty of our nation.” But Trump’s record does not appear to support the suggestion that environmental protection is among his administration’s top priorities. LA Times article

Nearing 100 days, Trump’s approval at record lows but base is holding – President Trump nears the 100-day mark of his administration as the least popular chief executive in modern times, a president whose voters remain largely satisfied with his performance, but one whose base of support has not expanded since he took the oath of office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News pollWashington Post article

Though shovels are ready, Trump officials delay grant for Caltrain upgrade — The railway shuttles 65,000 people a day between San Francisco and San Jose, its cars crammed with Silicon Valley workers tapping on sleek laptops and hoisting bikes into designated cars. But the signs of aging are unmistakable — 1980s control panels devoid of digital technology, the dusting of sea-green foam that has escaped from the seat cushions and settled on the floor. Washington Post article

Trump’s election has mobilized a resistance like no other, but will Democrats’ answer to the tea party divide the ranks? — President Trump’s election has mobilized thousands of first-time activists in a do-it-yourself movement like nothing seen on the political left in years. With bountiful energy and some impressive early successes, the grass-roots movement has stunned even Democratic Party officials, drawing comparisons to the tea party movement that transformed the GOP with its unyielding opposition after President Obama’s election. LA Times article

At a ‘unity’ stop, Democrats find anything but – At the center of the debate over the party’s future is Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who has emerged as the most popular active politician in America. New York Times article

Comey tried to shield the FBI from politics.  Then he shaped an election — The day before he upended the 2016 election, James B. Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, summoned agents and lawyers to his conference room. They had been debating all day, and it was time for a decision. New York Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

Latino-owned businesses featuring everything from piñatas to pedicures thriving in Modesto — A grocer that sells 600 piñatas a month. A downtown salon and spa that offers everything from couples’ massages to comfort tea. An events center that recently opened to cater to the needs of people looking to celebrate downtown. And a restaurant known for some of the best seafood in town. Modesto Bee article

Fresno woman saw shooting spree suspect and thought she would be shot: ‘He looked angry’ — At first, Edna Lopez thought the two loud bangs were car backfires. She looked around, then spotted a black man with a white hat, a black jacket – and a gun. Lopez told her daughter, Serina Carrillo, to get back in their car. There’s been a shooting, she said. Lopez looked down the street and briefly lost sight of the gunman. Then, as Carrillo started the engine and began backing up, he reappeared, came toward them and pulled out his gun again. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno man among those filing trademark applications for ‘Las Vegas Raiders’ name — A Fresno man is among a handful of people who paid up to $275 for the “Las Vegas Raiders” trademark when news of the team’s potential move from Oakland surfaced in January 2016. The filings have shed light on a trademark system that gives priority to the first people to submit applications, regardless of the validity of their claims. AP article

In costly Bay Area, six-figure salaries are considered ‘low income’ – In the high-priced Bay Area, even some households that bring in six figures a year can now be considered “low income.” That’s according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which recently released its 2017 income limits — a threshold that determines who can qualify for affordable and subsidized housing programs such as Section 8 vouchers. San Jose Mercury News article

Asparagus Festival off to a frying start — Thousands of people flocked to the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds this weekend for the 32nd annual asparagus festival.  Stockton Record article

Robin Abcarian: Cannabis workers, once facing legal peril, get California seal of approval — Just as the high-end coffee culture gave us the “barista,” so has the booming marijuana trade given us a the “budtender,” the dispensary equivalent of the pharmacy technician. Abcarian in LA Times

‘City of Trees’ or ‘American’s Farm-to-Fork Capital’? Water tower uproar reflects Sacramento’s changing identity — Sacramento native Brandon Shimabukuro never thought of his hometown as the “City of Trees” until he first saw the phrase painted about a dozen years ago on the Freeport water tower sitting off Interstate 5.  Sacramento Bee article


Cattle ranchers welcome lush grasses – Mother Nature has soaked the grasslands east and west of the San Joaquin Valley this year, to the delight of cattle ranchers who value this free feed. It’s a gorgeous sight for city folks who drive into the foothills. For the beef industry, it means millions of dollars in avoided costs. Modesto Bee article

Kern River, powered by wet winter, could kill again — In 2011, the last big water year on the Kern River, its flows claimed 15 lives. Young. Old. Strong. Well-educated. Brave. Funny. The river didn’t care. They got in. They didn’t come out. Bakersfield Californian article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Family, friends recall claim Motel 6 guard Carl Williams as fellow guards honor him – Security guards from across Fresno stood outside of the Northeast Assembly of God on Saturday morning to honor Carl Allen Williams III, a security guard who was fatally shot outside a Motel 6 on April 13.  Fresno Bee article

From Fresno mass shooting tragedy, a prayer leads a Fresno family to a lost aunt – Inside a green home with a wide concrete porch on Fulton Street, Wynonia Kingle hugged an aunt she thought had died eight years ago. Phyllis Cervantes, 73, squeezed her niece’s right forefinger and smiled. Fresno Bee article

Stockton crime numbers continue downward trend — The number of violent crimes and property crimes recorded in Stockton in March were down about 7 percent from last year, officials said, reflecting a gradual but persistent trend of the past few months. Stockton Record article


Nan Austin: Can Modesto’s world religions class help bridge the divide? — Nearly 20 years ago, a case of egregious bullying galvanized the Modesto City Schools community behind what became the nation’s only required world religions course in high schools. A new Canadian study finds the course is changing hearts and minds, raising hopes it can deter religious bullying. Austin in Modesto Bee

Reading program continues to reach out, serve — To the friends and supporters of Reach Out and Read San Joaquin: Thank you for your past and ongoing, support and interest in Reach Out and Read San Joaquin. We would like to let you know what is developing with this important early literacy program. Op-ed by Reach Out and Read San Joaquin officials in Stockton Record


Lois Henry: Pollution plumes stopped by drought but how much longer for cleanup? – The good news is that more than 40 million pounds of petroleum hydrocarbons have been sucked — literally — out of the ground around the former Shell Oil (now Alon) refinery on Rosedale Highway. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Lewis Griswold: Rangers in land of big trees get cozy with weather folks — To improve public safety when bad weather slams Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, forecasters at the National Weather Service in Hanford will be monitoring more areas where people visit and sending weather warnings to rangers.  Griswold in Fresno Bee

Plenty of water and sunshine means lots of mosquitoes – and some could make you very ill — Mosquitoes need water and heat to multiply, and this summer’s conditions could be perfect for a bumper crop of biting insects – some carrying deadly diseases – in the central San Joaquin Valley. Fresno Bee article

Bakersfield makes a clean start — One man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Sounds good, but more often than not, one man’s trash is another man’s trash, too. That’s what about 2,500 volunteers discovered Saturday when they took up positions in the city’s war on litter, their uniforms lime-green T’s, their weapons — if they had any at all — back-saving grabbers to spare their hands from the ickiest of the ick (oh, and it gets icky). Bakersfield Californian article

Health/Human Services

Jeff Jardine: Health care hotbed for fraud cases like one in which Modesto doctors face charges — While it might surprise some folks that five Modesto doctors are among those facing fraud charges in a $40 million medical billing and kickback case based in Southern California, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that there was yet another medical fraud case. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Other areas

Mike Klocke – Open-mic night at local legal comedy club – Random thoughts for a Sunday morning.  Klocke column in Stockton Record

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno 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.