April 26, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Oroville Dam secrecy helps further erode trust for big state projects — Oroville is another example of California’s tarnished record in recent decades of building and maintaining major infrastructure. A classic example is the replacement of the eastern third of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge that took decades to complete, cost four times the original estimate and experienced numerous construction flaws that officials tried to hide. “Shit happens,” Gov. Jerry Brown said when asked about what went wrong on the bridge. So we should feel confident about boring twin water tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and building a statewide bullet train system? Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Judge says Trump can’t punish cities over sanctuary city policies – President Trump can’t coerce “sanctuary cities” like San Francisco to cooperate with immigration officers by withdrawing all of their federal funds, a federal judge ruled Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle articleLA Times articleAP article

Valley politics

Santos overcomes recall effort, keeps Oakdale Irrigation District seat — Linda Santos breathed a long and thankful sigh of relief late Tuesday when results of a recall attempt indicated she will keep her seat on the Oakdale Irrigation District board. Modesto Bee article


California Atty. Gen. Becerra praises court ruling that blocks Trump executive order threatening ‘sanctuary cities’ — California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said he welcomed a federal court decision Tuesday that blocked President Trump’s executive order threatening to withhold federal funding from cities, counties and states that adopt so-called sanctuary policies on immigration. LA Times article

Bakersfield Californian: ‘Non-sanctuary proposal’ sends a bad message — In Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s proposal that the Kern County Board of Supervisors declare Kern a “non-sanctuary county” we see the proverbial solution in search of a problem. Or, more accurately, a resolution in search of a debate. Kern County is not a “sanctuary county,” nor should it be. Nor is anyone seriously weighing the merits of such a declaration. Bakersfield Californian editorial

Other areas

California lawmakers consider dumping health insurers – California lawmakers are considering an audacious proposal that would substantially remake the state’s health care system by eliminating insurance companies and guaranteeing coverage for everyone. The idea known as single-payer health care has long been popular on the left. It’s gaining traction with liberals as President Donald Trump struggles with his efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. AP article

Unions kill bill to cut cost-of-living increases for CalPERS pensions — Public employee unions presented a united front on Monday against a bill by Sen. John Moorlach that aimed to close California’s pension funding gap by eliminating cost-of-living increases and asking local governments to chip in a greater share of their revenue toward retirements. Sacramento Bee article

Modesto expects worst, plans for best with Coulter speech – Police Chief Galen Carroll does not expect trouble when conservative commentator Ann Coulter speaks Friday evening at Modesto Centre Plaza at the Stanislaus County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner. But he is planning for the worst. Modesto Bee article

Coulter expected to speak at Sproul Plaza on Thursday — Conservative commentator Ann Coulter plans to speak at UC Berkeley’s Sproul Plaza on Thursday, campus officials said, prompting the university and the city to scramble to prepare for what they fear could be another violent showdown between fans and opponents of President Trump. San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump’s congressional California allies squirm in his embrace – Boos and catcalls filled the cavernous banquet hall, with shouts of “Answer the question!’ and “Do your job!” Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., was under intense fire in the very Democratic-leaning central California district that elected him six months ago. Now, barely a hundred days into the volatile presidency of President Donald Trump, voters were more frustrated than ever with Washington. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump’s border wall goes wanting, and conservatives shrug — President Donald Trump could soon sign a bill to avoid a government shutdown that carries few of his priorities, including money for his much-touted wall at the southern border with Mexico. Yet conservative groups, who in the past have waded into shutdown showdowns, have been largely silent. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump at the 100-day mark: Stable support but few achievements — As his first 100 days in office draw to a close on Saturday, President Trump cannot claim many solid accomplishments, but does have one big one: He has held onto the support of the voters who put him in the White House. LA Times article

California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories – Top Stories

Judge intends to permit California high-speed rail funding, reject Kings County challenge — A judge said Tuesday that he intends to reject the latest court challenge from Kings County interests to California’s $64 billion high-speed rail project, ruling that recent changes fall within what voters approved in 2008. AP article; LA Times article

UC kept secret $175 million reserve as it raised tuition, audit finds — The University of California’s central administration has overcharged campuses to fund its operations, spent excessively on employee compensation and hidden $175 million in secret reserves in recent years. Those were the conclusions of a blistering state audit released Tuesday that slammed UC’s Office of the President for misleading budgeting practices – and for interfering in auditors’ efforts to determine whether its wide range of duties and nearly 1,700 employees could be slimmed down.  Sacramento Bee article; San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article

Merced County to explore health coverage for undocumented – The Merced County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to explore ideas on how to provide health insurance to the thousands of local residents who lack coverage because of their immigration status. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno County supervisors asking to get a pot of cash – and freedom to spend it – When they were on the Fresno City Council, Sal Quintero and Andreas Borgeas each had a pot of city money they could tap to pay for pothole repairs, community meetings or other outreach efforts in their districts. They want to tap surplus office funds to create the same kind of cash pot now that they’re on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors. Fresno Bee article

Fresno County hopes to land more industrial developments — The County of Fresno hopes to see more industrial park developments in its future. The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to ask county staff to explore possible sites for an industrial development of at least 1,000 acres that could be home to distribution centers, advanced manufacturing companies or other businesses. The county is considering sites in the vicinity of Highway 99 in the Fowler, Selma and Kingsburg area, as well as in the Malaga area southeast of the City of Fresno. Valley Public Radio report

Kern supervisors ink deal with prosecutors union – Kern County supervisors approved a short-term contract with the Kern County Prosecutors Association Tuesday that may be a possible precursor to other cost-cutting union deals. Bakersfield Californian article

Atwater takes another step toward allowing cannabis businesses – Atwater leaders are trying to fine tune the city’s move toward allowing commercial cannabis in town, though many of them have expressed a dislike for marijuana. Merced Sun-Star article

Writing love letters, bidding $100,000 extra: Buying a Southern California home is ‘insane’ – Jobs and wages are on the rise. Buyers are newly urgent, fearful an era of cheap money is ending. And to top it off, there simply aren’t enough homes listed for sale. As a result, bidding wars are common and prices are rising during the popular spring buying season.  LA Times article

Report: Bay Area residents are leading the nationwide migration — California dreaming? Hardly. Mattresses on sidewalks, moving vans in driveways and hasty garage sales hint at a trend Bay Area residents have long suspected – exodus. San Francisco Chronicle article

Sierra Bancorp acquires OCB Bancorp of Ventura County — Porterville-based Sierra Bancorp, the parent company of Bank of the Sierra, is increasing its presence along the Central Coast with the acquisition of OCB Bancorp. The Ojai-based bank company operates branches in Ojai, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Santa Paula. Fresno Bee article


California’s drought is over, but we’re still toting up the costs — Californians paid for the drought in many ways. Homeowners saw their water rates rise. Farmers sacrificed revenue when they idled fields. And practically everyone spent more on electricity. Sacramento Bee article

Fixed before next big rains? Lawmakers quiz water officials on Oroville Dam repair details — California lawmakers pressed state officials Tuesday on the repair effort at Oroville Dam, demanding to see contract details to make sure the bulk of the work will be completed in time for the next rainy season.  Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

What went wrong at Oroville Dam? Analysis points to drainage, problematic soils – The spillway failure at Oroville Dam likely was caused by problems with its underlying drainage system and the soils beneath the concrete chute, according to an internal analysis by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Sacramento Bee article

These avocados could be the answer to growing the crop statewide — Mary Lu Arpaia is on a mission to find an avocado tree that can withstand the Central Valley’s frosty winters and hot summers. Currently most avocados in the state are grown in Southern California and a narrow strip along the coast. Valley Public Radio report

State slams a California dairy with fines, but the owner won’t pay — State regulators have told a recalcitrant dairyman in Visalia to stop playing games with them over a required annual report about water quality or potentially be prosecuted for failing to cooperate. Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Handgun used in Fresno rampage shooting still missing, reward increased to $2,000 – Fresno police have increased to $2,000 the reward offered for recovery of the gun allegedly used by suspect Kori Ali Muhammad in separate shootings that killed four people. Fresno Bee article; LA Times article

Judge rejects Silva request to work at Stockton Kids Club, have ankle monitor removed — A judge denied Anthony Silva’s request for permission to work at the Stockton Kids Club and to have a GPS ankle monitor that documents the former mayor’s whereabouts removed during a 30-minute court hearing Tuesday morning.  Stockton Record article

Mentally ill ex-inmate dragged from cell to receive $950,000 in settlement — With plaintiffs about to rest, the state prison system agreed before court began Tuesday to stop the trial and pay a mentally ill former inmate $950,000. Jurors in the federal court trial in Sacramento said the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation made the right call to settle the case with Jermaine Padilla, the ex-prisoner. Sacramento Bee article

Former Kern deputy takes plea deal in crash that killed Oildale woman — A former Kern County sheriff’s deputy accepted a plea agreement on Tuesday in connection with a crash that killed an Oildale woman 21/2years ago. Nicholas Clerico must pay fines and serve 240 hours of community service after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter, said attorney Kyle J. Humphrey. He will not serve time in jail. Bakersfield Californian article

BART keeps riders in the dark about teen mob robbery — Seeking to track down some of the 40 to 60 teen robbers who took over a train car in Oakland, BART police investigators have pored over video footage, interviewed witnesses, combed through social media chatter and shared surveillance images of the suspects with other police agencies in an all-points bulletin.  San Francisco Chronicle article

ACLU sues LAPD over ‘systematic violation’ of public records law — The American Civil Liberties Union has joined with a journalist, a college professor and an activist to sue the Los Angeles Police Department over what they describe as a “systemic violation” of California’s public records law. LA Times article

Marcos Breton: What it would really take to fix troubled Sacramento Police Department — There are several reasons why the Sacramento Police Department is mired in a crisis of confidence. There is only one solution to end the crisis: Sacramento needs to hire a new chief from the outside to come in and lead its officers. It would be best if that new chief had no prior connections to Sac PD at all – no longstanding friendships, no previously established perceptions, no sacred cows or hit lists. Breton column in Sacramento Bee


Sacramento Bee: Eight audits in four years? UC is getting strong-armed – Lawmakers deserve answers from the University of California and UC President Janet Napolitano. But eight audits in four years? Sacramento Bee editorial

California lags other states in total per-child spending on range of services – California lags behind 40 other states in the amount it spends per child for a range of services including public education and healthcare, according to a new report. LA Times article

City Council offers support in pursuit of Stockton campus – According to the report, 300,000-resident Stockton is the largest city in California that does not have a state university campus within 20 miles. The California State University campuses nearest to Stockton, in Turlock and Sacramento, are about 50 miles away. Eggman said support for a Stockton campus should be a “litmus test” for candidates in the region who are seeking public office. Stockton Record article

Michael Fitzgerald: Stockton’s prosperous, polytechnic future — Backers of a California Polytechnic University, Stockton — a four-year state university teaching modern tech skills — are right to question state no-can-do and to fight for a better future. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

U.S. News and World Report: University High School seventh best in California — University High School has again been ranked the seventh best high school in California and is among the best in the U.S., according to the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings.  Fresno Bee article

Mom outraged after a teacher hangs Confederate flag above her daughter’s school desk — Although Eboni Goodman says Confederate flags are relatively common sights around Visalia, the last place she expected to find one was on the ceiling of her daughter’s history classroom at La Joya Middle School – right above her daughter’s desk. It’s particularly hurtful, Goodman says, because she and her 13-year-old daughter are African American, and the Confederate flag is a painful reminder of America’s slave history. Fresno Bee article

Family demonstrates Stockton Unified over portrayal of teen – Family and friends of one teenager who died in a car crash earlier this month staged a demonstration at the Stockton Unified School District Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday, demanding the district fire a Chavez High School teacher and school volunteer who, they said, made inappropriate comments about the teen’s character. Stockton Record article

Folsom Cordova schools choose Tulare superintendent as chief – Sarah Koligian, a Tulare high school district superintendent, has been named the new chief of the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. Final contract negotiations are underway for the new schools chief, district officials said. Trustees for the 20,000-student district are expected to ratify Koligian’s appointment at their May 4 board meeting. She replaces Deborah Bettencourt, who in January announced her retirement at the end of the school year. Sacramento Bee article

Money short for raise, pensions? Teachers say school districts ‘crying wolf’ — For the past several years, teachers and staff across California saw pay increases, and schools began a flurry of hiring to reduce class sizes and restore programs they had slashed during the recession. But school districts say those heady years of budget growth are ending. Sacramento Bee article

Nan Austin: How to turn around flailing schools (hint: it takes wanting to change) – Why do a few schools excel, even with challenging kids, while so many others struggle? That is the billion-dollar question. Austin in Modesto Bee

Hanford High student earns $40,000 scholarship — Hanford High senior Keslee Green is going to be the first person from her family to attend college. She’ll also have all of her tuition paid for after filling out applications for more than 30 different scholarships. This past week, Keslee learned she was awarded a $40,000 scholarship through Edison International’s Edison Scholars Program for students planning to study science, technology, engineering or math. Hanford Sentinel article


How will PG&E pay to close Diablo Canyon? Hint: It’ll show up on your electric bill – If PG&E’s application to shutter Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in 2025 is approved in the coming months, ratepayers will likely see a new charge on their bills. San Luis Obispo Tribune article

California regulators fine PG&E $8.3 million for deadly wildfire – Regulators say they have fined Pacific Gas and Electric Co. $8.3 million for failing to maintain a power line that sparked a massive blaze in Northern California that destroyed 549 homes and killed two people. AP article

San Francisco’s clean power program’s customers could face higher PG&E fee — Every time a California community starts buying electricity on behalf of its residents — as San Francisco does with its new CleanPowerSF program — the state’s traditional utilities get stuck with excess electrons that they’ve already bought but no longer need.  San Francisco Chronicle article

California submerging: Rising seas are claiming famed coast faster than scientists imagined – A slow-moving emergency is lapping at California’s shores— climate-driven sea-level rise that experts now predict could elevate the water in coastal areas up to 10 feet in just 70 years, gobbling up beachfront and overwhelming low-lying cities. CALmatters article; Sacramento Bee article

How Burning Man’s trash is one Kern County city’s treasure – The city of Arvin, south of Bakersfield, is struggling to stay healthy. Nearly a quarter of its 20,000 residents fall below the poverty line, and surrounding Kern County has one of the highest diabetes burdens in the state. As part of an ongoing effort to get kids out of the house and active, an event last week connected Arvin middle-schoolers with free bicycles—but where the bicycles came from may surprise you. Valley Public Radio report

Lance Johnson: Hyperbole, exaggeration and other things environmentalists tell you – The retired water resources engineer writes, “After working 35 years in the California water business – including on several dam, reservoir and water-supply projects – I came to realize you can’t believe any of the environmentalists’ hyperbole about our rivers, dams, reservoirs and the fisheries related to them. And you shouldn’t.” Johnson op-ed in Modesto Bee

Health/Human Services

Covered California insurers move forward on 2018 plans – Despite a cloud of uncertainty hanging over federal health care policy, several of the nation’s largest insurers are moving forward with plans to sell insurance on the Covered California exchange in 2018. San Francisco Chronicle article

Should California agencies work together to negotiate better drug prices? — Citing budget-busting drug costs, a California lawmaker wants state health programs to band together to negotiate better prices with drug companies. Assemblymember David Chiu (D-San Francisco) has introduced a bill that would strengthen intra-agency collaboration on drug cost-saving strategies. KQED report

Land Use/Housing

Hanford City Council approves general plan update – There was standing room only in the Hanford City Council Chambers Monday night as the council made decisions on updating the city’s general plan and zoning ordinances during a special meeting. Hanford Sentinel article

Homeowner: Every home in northwest Visalia will be affected — Rashelle and Scott Nelson own a home in northwest Visalia. They moved to the area to raise their children in a quiet neighborhood, next to good schools, surrounded by community members with shared values. However, the Nelsons fear that the proposed 200-unit apartment complex being considered by Visalia’s Planning Commission could mean a slow decline for their community. More than 150 homeowners and community members filled Visalia City Hall in opposition to the proposed plan. Visalia Times-Delta article


Interview: Fresno Bee reporter Tim Sheehan talks high-speed rail — For a train that is supposed to be both fast and smooth, the quest to build high-speed rail in California has been anything but. Last week the project hit another issue – the surprise announcement from the rail authority’s CEO Jeff Morales that he is stepping down after five years on the job. The Fresno Bee’s Tim Sheehan joined us on Valley Edition to talk about what his departure means for the project, as well as on-going efforts to select a site for the line’s heavy maintenance facility. Valley Public Radio report

Uber claims it will have flying cars in Texas and Dubai by 2020 — Jeff Holden, Uber’s chief product officer, hates the phrase “flying cars.” But he took to a Dallas stage on Tuesday to announce that Uber will offer a flying-car taxi service in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Dubai by 2020 — something he said “fits cleanly into our mission” and Uber’s focus on “big bold bets.” San Francisco Chronicle article

Fresno FAX bus service extended to 1 a.m. on popular routes — Good news for Fresno FAX bus users in need of a ride at night: Beginning Monday, service on the city’s most highly traveled routes will be extended until 1 a.m. In addition, more frequent, 30-minute service will be offered on five of the city’s most popular routes seven days a week. Fresno Bee article; The Business Journal article

Ghost cars could be gliding down Sacramento’s streets by year’s end — Cars with no one in them may be cruising downtown streets as early as the end of this year if city and state motor vehicle officials have their way. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

Clovis Kiwanis cancels Freedom Fest fireworks show, citing lack of funds — Clovis Kiwanis club has canceled its Fourth of July fireworks show and festival, citing a lack of “substantial sponsorship.” In a news release Tuesday, the service club said it has been unable to raise money needed to continue Clovis Freedom Fest, which it has put on for 17 years. Hundreds attended last year’s event at Clovis High’s Lamonica Stadium. Fresno Bee article

Lee Herrick: What I love about Fresno: a thank you note from our Poet Laureate — If you were to ask me if I enjoyed being Fresno Poet Laureate, like my daughter did recently, I would say that I absolutely did. My two-year term ends this week, and it was an honor and a joy. I have had the good fortune to teach at Fresno City College, which is a beautiful poem of its own, for 20 years. Herrick op-ed in Fresno Bee

Lois Henry: Shelter volunteer gives 2,000 hours caring for puppies – If there’s one thing Rhonda Montgomery knows, it’s puppy poop. After 2,000 hours volunteering in the Kern County Animal Services puppy room at its Fruitvale shelter, Montgomery has seen her share. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Saxophonist Donny McCaslin brings Bowie-inspired sound to Bakersfield Jazz Festival — McCaslin is coming back to Central California with a gig headlining this weekend’s Bakersfield Jazz Festival Friday night at the CSUB Amphitheatre.  FM89’s Sunday Night Jazz host David Aus recently spoke with McCaslin about the experience of working with Bowie and his current tour. Valley Public Radio report

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian In Sheriff Donny Youngblood’s proposal that the Kern County Board of Supervisors declare Kern a “non-sanctuary county” we see the proverbial solution in search of a problem.

Fresno Bee – 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.

Modesto 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.

Sacramento Bee –- The Sacramento City Council should adopt a proposal to encourage more adoptions by banning the retail sale of cats and dogs, which often come from horrible kitten and puppy mills; Lawmakers deserve answers from the University of California and UC President Janet Napolitano. But eight audits in four years?