April 25, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Republicans howl as lawmakers jam through deals linked to gas tax, fee increases — Brushing aside Republican criticism that the legislation broke state law, Assembly Democrats gave final approval Monday to a pair of measures that helped secure the passage of billions in gasoline tax and vehicle fee increases for road repairs.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Dan Walters: Trumpies trap California politicians on immigration — California’s two-plus million undocumented immigrants are overwhelmingly peaceful and productive members of society and they, the state and the nation need immigration reform and pathways to citizenship. The eagerness of both sides to trade fusillades of overheated rhetoric on even a minor ministerial issue indicates that they will continue to escalate and in doing so, they undermine that larger cause. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown warns labor members of Republican public works plan that might ‘enrich Wall Street’ — Gov. Jerry Brown warned on Monday that what he’s heard so far from President Trump and congressional Republicans on a major new infrastructure plan sounds more like a way of benefiting the private sector. LA Times article

Jerry Brown on his Fitbit: ‘I only have 1,332 steps’ — Gov. Jerry Brown’s rejection of material possessions is one of the many literary tropesemployed by writers to pad their lists of idiosyncrasies in profiles about him. In recent months, however, one possession has provided the Democratic governor with an abundant run of public fascination: his Fitbit, a watch-like device that tracks his physical activity and even monitors sleep patterns. Last month in Washington, he checked the Fitbit regularly, stopping occasionally to share his progress.  Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Prosecutor Janz announces he’ll challenge Nunes for his seat in Congress – A violent-crimes prosecutor with the Fresno County District Attorney’s office is planning to challenge incumbent Rep. Devin Nunes in California’s 22nd Congressional District election in 2018. Andrew Janz, 33, is launching his campaign Tuesday, touting his prosecutorial credentials and his nearly lifelong connections to the Valley – and criticizing Nunes for his close ties to President Donald Trump and concerns over Nunes’ actions related to an investigation of Russian interference in last year’s presidential electionFresno Bee article

Health care group targets Valadao with ads — The Alliance for Healthcare Security has launched a round of television ads in the 21st Congressional District pressuring Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford, to vote against any repeal of Obamacare. The coalition of unions, medical groups and partnerships is asking people to “Tell Congressman Valadao — don’t repeal our healthcare.” Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Rivalry in the air as Villaraigosa and Newsom march with Armenians in Los Angeles — An Armenian march across Los Angeles on Monday served as a stage for the budding rivalry between Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom as the two Democrats vied for the loyalty of a key constituency in next year’s race for governor. LA Times article

Former Sacramento developer wants to be California’s next lieutenant governor — Eleni Kounalakis, a major Democratic Party donor and former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary, on Monday formally jumped into the 2018 race for lieutenant governor, saying she was driven to run by the election of President Donald Trump. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article


With ally in Oval Office, immigration hard-liners ascend to power — For years, a network of immigration hard-liners in Washington was known chiefly for fending off proposals to legalize the status of more people. But with the election of a like-minded president, these groups have moved unexpectedly to offense from defense, with some of their leaders now in positions to carry out their agenda on a national scale. New York Times article

League of Women Voters will explore issues in immigration series — The issue of immigration can be complicated. It includes legal and illegal immigration, deportations and asylum; there are differences between work and student visas and visitor visas, and permanent resident cards. The issue extends beyond that, too. Stockton Record article

Other areas

California’s landmark climate-change program would also fight air pollution under proposal — As the Legislature weighs the future of cap and trade, California’s groundbreaking program to cut greenhouse gas emissions that expires in 2020, it is considering key changes pushed by environmentalists and fought by Big Oil and other industry groups in a proposal that has its first committee hearing Monday.  San Jose Mercury News article

New poll: 47 percent of Valley residents oppose Obamacare repeal — With President Donald Trump promising to revive the repeal of the Affordable Care Act this week, a new poll of Central Valley residents offers insight into the local reaction to proposed changes to the law, commonly known as Obamacare. Overall, according to new research by Fresno State’s Institute for Leadership and Public Policy, 47% of Central Valley residents oppose repealing the law. 29% say they support partial repeal, while 17% say they want full repeal. Valley Public Radio report

California lawmakers push to link public health efforts to climate programs – California’s fight against climate change would be overhauled under legislation advanced by an Assembly committee on Monday. The legislation, a revised version of a measure introduced earlier this year, would link the state’s efforts against greenhouse gases, which contribute to global warming, and other pollutants, which cause public health problems such as asthma. LA Times article

Ann Coulter’s backers at UC Berkeley file lawsuit – Ann Coulter is now at the center of a civil rights lawsuit filed Monday against the University of California, Berkeley by students who say the school is violating their right to free speech by canceling the conservative pundit’s speaking event on campus this week. AP article; LA Times article; San Francisco Chronicle article

Sacramento Bee: Ann Coulter is exploiting UC Berkeley, safety be damned – Ann Coulter’s attack on UC Berkeley isn’t about her free speech. It’s about the growing effort by outsiders to exploit a public university for political theater. Sacramento Bee editorial

NRA announces legal challenge to California’s expanded assault weapon ban and other new gun laws – The state affiliate of the National Rifle Assn. on Monday filed the first of a series of planned lawsuits against a package of gun control bills approved in California last year, including one challenging the state’s newly expanded assault weapons ban. LA Times article

California lawmaker’s bid to block so-called ‘Netflix taxes’ fails – A California bill that would have blocked local governments from taxing Netflix, Hulu and other streaming video services is done for the year. LA Times article

Joel Fox: Eliminate the Board of Equalization? I voted for that, sort of — A spotlight has been put on the Board of Equalization, a state tax agency, that has been found wanting after a critical audit, enough so that the governor has clamped restrictions on the board. One idea that has re-surfaced in the wake of Board of Equalization examination is that the agency should be closed down. I agreed with that notion as a member of the California Constitution Revision Commission in 1996 but opposed the Commission’s final suggestion because I believe revenue officers should be elected. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Fort Worth death penalty case argued at Supreme Court could change appeals process — A Fort Worth man who fatally shot a 5-year-old girl and her grandmother could avoid being put to death if the U.S. Supreme Court decides he had inadequate legal advice in his appeal. McClatchy Newspapers article

Is Senate’s Trump-Russian probe going anywhere? This panel member is doubtful — A prominent member of the Senate panel that’s investigating Russia’s meddling in the U.S. election and possible links to the campaign of President Donald Trump is expressing “serious concerns” about the probe’s speed, transparency and direction. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump election complicates noncitizen voting in San Francisco — Lost amid Donald Trump’s stunning upset in the election in November was the passage of a controversial San Francisco ballot measure. Proposition N will allow noncitizens with children to vote in local school board elections. But now, with immigrant communities worried over the Trump administration cracking down on sanctuary cities, that might be easier said than done. KQED report

Presidential Politics

Trump wants a border wall, but few in Congress want to pay for it – It’s an open secret on Capitol Hill: President Trump wants a “big, beautiful” border wall, but few in Congress are willing to pay for it. Sacramento Bee article

White House ‘confident’ of averting showdown as Trump shows flexibility on wall – The White House sought Monday to calm a jittery Washington ahead of a showdown with Congress over spending, and President Donald Trump softened his demand that a deal to keep the federal government open include money to begin construction on his long-promised border wall. Washington Post article

Like predecessors, Trump avoids ‘genocide’ term in Armenian Remembrance Day statement — President Donald Trump on Monday carefully avoided the term “genocide” in marking the slaughter of Armenians during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, following the lead of his Democratic and Republican predecessors. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump White House touts achievements but downplays 100-day expectations — Trump isn’t the first president to try to balance high expectations against harsh reality in the first months of a new administration. But the traditional temporal benchmark has become a case study for what the news cycle has come to mean in the Trump era. LA Times article

Trump is said to seek cutting corporate tax rate to 15 percent — President Trump has instructed his advisers to make cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent a centerpiece of his tax-cut blueprint to be unveiled this week, according to people with knowledge of his plans, even if that means a significant reduction in revenue that could jettison his campaign promise to curb deficits. New York Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories-Top Stories

Declining agricultural land values tied to water – It’s all about the water. As far as agricultural land values, that is. A new report on the outlook for Kern County ag land values shows water emerging as a major deciding factor in what land is worth, according to Michael Ming, a broker for Alliance Ag Services LLC. Bakersfield Californian article

State FFA conference pulls out of Fresno after 23 years, headed for – Anaheim? — The annual statewide FFA leadership conference, one of Fresno’s largest conventions with more than 7,000 participants, is wrapping up its four day event Tuesday. But officials say that after 23 years in the city, it won’t be back next year.  Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Leaving California? After slowing, the trend intensifies – Given its iconic hold on the American imagination, the idea that more Americans are leaving California than coming breaches our own sense of uniqueness and promise. Yet, even as the economy has recovered, notably in the Bay Area and in pockets along the coast, the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates show that domestic migrants continue to leave the state more rapidly than they enter it. San Jose Mercury News article

Dean Florez: VW drives past disadvantaged Valley communities to the land of the fat cats – The former state senator and assemblymember Shafter and current member of the California Air Resource Board writes, “Volkswagen, one of the single-largest criminal polluters in U.S. history, is once more trying to weasel out of its responsibility to make good for damaging the lungs of low-income residents who were forced to breathe unlawful exhausts spewing from their modified diesel engines.” Florez op-ed in Fresno Bee

Bethany Clough: Two restaurants headed to River Park’s World Sports Café, but who are they? – Two new restaurants are headed to the former World Sports Cafe space at River Park. We don’t know who they are yet, but two letters of intent – an early step in the leasing process – have been signed, said River Park spokeswoman Tracy Kashian. The leases themselves haven’t been signed yet. We’ll know more once the ink is dry on those. Clough in Fresno Bee

Modesto pays $60,000 more in lawsuit, bringing total of $805,000 – Modesto is paying $60,000.01 to resolve the remaining allegations in a federal civil rights lawsuit that claims police officers entered a woman’s home without a warrant or her permission during a civil dispute. Modesto Bee article

Fig Garden Uncle Harry’s to close, more changes coming – After 18 years in Fig Garden VillageUncle Harry’s New York Bagelry & Coffee House will close. A sign on the door signed by the restaurant’s owners and posted on the registers says the shop will close at noon Friday. Fresno Bee article

California, San Francisco seek oversight for PG&E transmission spending — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year repairing and upgrading its electricity transmission system without any government agency screening the projects in advance to see if they’re needed. Now, California utility regulators want to change that. San Francisco Chronicle article

The billion-dollar budget item Mayor Garcetti didn’t mention in his State of the City speech — When Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled his proposed budget last week, he called a $176-million effort to battle homelessness his top priority, highlighted a $35-million plan to mend broken streets and promised $2 million to clean up graffiti. He did not mention the expenditure that dwarfs all of those combined: more than $1.1 billion to pay for city employees’ pensions and healthcare after they retire. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Why Sacramento can’t go on a spending spree – While property and sales taxes are rising, Sacramento faces spiraling labor and pension costs and can’t afford to add big new programs. The proposed budget going before the City Council accounts for a huge increase in pension payments. Sacramento Bee editorial

Sacramento’s new home market is blossoming this spring, but one new neighborhood struggles to keep up — Just west of Sacramento’s Curtis Park neighborhood, a tightly packed row of new, three-story houses stands shoulder to shoulder like silent sentinels. Their view is of empty lots sprouting spring weeds for blocks and blocks, some with signs pointing to “new homes” that don’t exist. Sacramento Bee article

Faced with sky-high prices, homebuyers look to leave Bay Area — Hunting for a house that’s affordable, nearly 1 in 5 home seekers living in the Bay Area is looking outside the region.  San Jose Mercury News article


Moderate temperatures continue – what does it mean for snowpack? — With generally drier, warmer weather in the weeks ahead, the National Weather Service late last week released an update on the spring snowmelt flood potential from the California Nevada River Forecast Center. Modesto Bee article

State kept these Oroville Dam documents secret at first.  Now they’ve partially released two of them — Responding to criticism about secrecy around the Oroville Dam repair effort, California officials released two redacted reports Monday from outside engineers consulting on plans to fix the dam’s battered spillways.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Nut thefts down after ordinance — Sam Sciacca says a current ordinance has drastically reduced the number of reported nut thefts in the county. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

After Fresno shooting spree, Fulton Street residents, businesses regain normalcy — For the people living and working in the Fresno neighborhood where three men were shot and killed last week, Monday marked a return to the daily routine.  Fresno Bee article

Randalls family thanks community; requests privacy following rampage shooting death – The family of Zackary Randalls, the Pacific Gas & Electric employee killed last week in a brutal shooting rampage, thanked the community for its support Monday but requested privacy.  Fresno Bee article

California further delays lethal injection regulations –California corrections officials are delaying their new lethal injection regulations by four months, officials announced Monday, pushing back this week’s deadline until late August.  AP article

Jeff Jardine: Peoples’ loud voices keep killer Maria in prison, hope Gov. Brown nixes Spears parole, too — Jeffrey Maria’s hopes for freedom rose again only to have Gov. Brown to crush them again. Shucks, and of course I don’t mean that. The incredible heinous cruelty he and his murderous pals inflicted while committing the crimes that put them behind bars nearly 38 years ago makes it difficult, if not impossible, to think of him or any of them in sympathetic terms. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Silva’s attorneys will argue merits of three conditions — Attorneys for Anthony Silva are slated to return to a downtown courtroom Tuesday morning to continue their efforts to defend the former mayor, who is charged with embezzling and laundering public funds from the defunct Boys & Girls Club of Stockton. Stockton Record article

A mentally ill inmate was dragged from a cell. Prison staff now may face punitive damages — For 22 years, the federal court in Sacramento has pounded the California Department of Corrections with orders and injunctions and slapped it with sanctions to get the state prison system to clean up its mental health treatment mess. Now, attorneys for mentally ill inmates are trying for another attention getter: punitive damages. Sacramento Bee article

Juvenile human trafficking court launching in Fresno County — Cases of human trafficking involving minors are a growing occurrence in Fresno County courtrooms, so much so that the county court system is working to launch a juvenile human trafficking court.  The Business Journal article; Fresno Bee article

Danny Morrison: For ex-felons trying to change, it’s one step forward, two steps back – Meet Tony. Tony grew up on the east side of Bakersfield in a broken home within an impoverished neighborhood. Dad abandoned the family when Tony was 10 years old and Mom went on to experience dead-end relationships and dead-end jobs for the duration of his adolescence. Tony became rebellious. Morrison in Bakersfield Californian

BART takeover robbery: 40 to 60 teens swarm train, hold up riders — BART police are beefing up patrols at Oakland stations after dozens of juveniles terrorized riders Saturday night when they invaded the Coliseum Station and commandeered a train car, forcing passengers to hand over bags and cell phones and leaving at least two with head injuries. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Davis police officers attacked on Picnic Day — Three men were arrested following an attack on Davis police officers who encountered a group of people blocking traffic on a busy roadway during Saturday’s Picnic Day at UC Davis. The annual campus open house has become known in recent years for violence and drunken mayhem, mainly on the streets of the normally quiet college town. Sacramento Bee article

‘I took someone’s life. – now I am giving back.’ In California’s prisons, inmates teach each other how to start over — Corrections officials said the growing emphasis on rehabilitation and helping offenders re-enter society has led to a prison culture shift. Inmates at facilities with the most opportunities seem less inclined to break the rules, officials said, showing a greater interest in group sessions, completing college applications and learning work skills. LA Times article


CSU, Stanislaus students call for action, plan protest against white supremacist — An online petition calls on California State University, Stanislaus to take a stronger stand against a white supremacist on campus, and sets a protest against hate speech for noon Wednesday. Modesto Bee article

CSU Stockton proponents keep plugging – When a state report concluded in January that a new California State University campus was not needed anytime soon, proponents for a site in Stockton insisted they were unfazed. Three months later and armed with a report of their own, some of those same proponents will appear at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting to present their own conclusions — and to make it clear they are not going away regardless of the findings of the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. Stockton Record article

The biggest challenge for the next Fresno Unified superintendent? The board irself – When the firm that’s been tapped to find the next Fresno Unified superintendent asked trustees on Monday to identify the single biggest challenge that the district’s next leader will face, board member Valerie Davis’ answer drew some laughs. “Us,” she said. “He or she really has to have a very diplomatic and firm hand with being able to execute his or her work … The toughest thing will be the seven of us.” Fresno Bee article

Fair Political Practices Commission extends investigation of Fresno Unified school board leader – The California Fair Political Practices Commission has added contracts totaling nearly $6 million to an investigation of Fresno Unified school board president Brooke Ashjian’s alleged conflicts of interest. But Ashjian has dismissed the allegations, and contends the investigation will find no foul play regarding his outside businesses. Fresno Bee article

American flag making a comeback at UC Davis senate meetings? — The American flag may again be mandatory at UC Davis student senate meetings. On Thursday, student senate President Josh Dalavai vetoed a controversial April 13 resolution that made flying the American flag optional at meetings. Sacramento Bee article

Controversial charter bill could face prolonged fight in Legislature — Californians on both sides of the charter school debate can expect two years of hearings over Senate Bill 808, a bill that would restrict the charter school approval process, which critics claim could lead to the shuttering of many of the schools. EdSource article


Pollution: Visalia ranked second worst in the state — California’s smoggy reputation appears to be deserved: Six of the USA’s 10 cities with the worst air pollution are in the Golden State, according to a new report. Bakersfield, Calif., again holds the dubious distinction of having the USA’s most days of highly polluted air, based on data from 2013-2015, the American Lung Association’s annual “State of the Air” report released Wednesday found. In addition to the worst spikes of short-term pollution — led by Bakersfield — the report also lists the cities with the worst overall year-round pollution — led by Visalia/Hanford, Calif.— and the worst ozone pollution, led by the Los Angeles/Long Beach area. Visalia Times-Delta article

Is California’s toxic waste regulator letting oversight slide? — Critics accuse the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control of being indifferent to the public, cozy with polluters and slow in enforcing regulations. KQED report

Yosemite National Park invites comment for Bridalveil Falls project — The National Park Service is inviting the public to submit comments on a project to improve accessibility and services at the base of Bridalveil Fall, one of Yosemite Valley’s most iconic features. Merced Sun-Star article


No longer a dream: Silicon Valley takes on the flying car — This isn’t science fiction. A number of start-ups as well as big aerospace firms are trying to build personal aircraft. New York Times article

Other areas

Zach Scrivner: Turning to a new way to run county government – The Kern County supervisor writes, “There is no better time than now to rethink and reformulate your county government to embrace and deliver smart changes. We hope to develop and sustain public-private partnerships that are key to success in this day and age, and to strengthen and diversify our tax base. I am excited about implementing this program countywide and look forward to learning the best practices featured by Lean Six Sigma.” Scrivner op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Merced’s first ever cannabis and hemp fair coming soon – A hemp and cannabis fair is coming to Merced this weekend for the first ever time. The fair is an educational effort, according to director Naomi Forkash. “We have a variety of products for growing, harvesting and processing,” she said on Monday. “We’re not a licensed dispensary, so there’s no actual marijuana sales on site. There’s no on-site use, and no on-site purchasing.” Merced Sun-Star article

Rescue pups could soon be your only option at local pet stores — The days when you could pick out a purebred puppy in a pet store window are largely gone, but the practice may officially be outlawed in Sacramento if a city ordinance goes through. Sacramento Bee article

Ghost Ship lease specified illegal use — Documents obtained by the Bay Area News Group show that the lease Derick Almena and a partner signed for the Ghost Ship warehouse planned an illegal use from the very start — an artist collective that was not allowed under zoning laws — and that the building owner had approved the use.  San Jose Mercury News article

Kern County Museum gets its old name back — The Kern County Museum is back. Not that it ever went anywhere, exactly, but for nine months that Chester Avenue institution was officially Kern Pioneer Village, a decision made in July by then-executive director Zoot Velasco.  Bakersfield Californian article

Marvin Steinert, philanthropist and real estate man, dies at 94 — Marvin Steinert, a businessman known throughout Bakersfield for his charitable giving, died on Saturday at age 94. Steinert, a bookkeeper who also dealt in real estate and served on the Kern Community Foundation board, was best known for his giving personality and kindness. Bakersfield Californian article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – 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 –- While property and sales taxes are rising, Sacramento faces spiraling labor and pension costs and can’t afford to add big new programs. The proposed budget going before the City Council accounts for a huge increase in pension payments; As Donald Trump tries to roll back consumer protections, California lawmakers should step in. Preventing the sorts of predatory practices engaged in by Wells Fargo employees is an excellent place to start; Ann Coulter’s attack on UC Berkeley isn’t about her free speech. It’s about the growing effort by outsiders to exploit a public university for political theater.