April 28, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Can California become a player in presidential nominations? — Here we go again. For the fifth time in recent history, California politicians want to move the state’s presidential primary, traditionally held in June, several months earlier in hopes of making it a player. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Rep. Jeff Denham says he’s a ‘no’ on the new GOP healthcare bill, but most California Republicans are undecided — Rep. Jeff Denham (Turlock) told the Hill, a newspaper focused on Capitol Hill, that he does not support the new version of the healthcare bill. Since most Democrats are expected to remain lined up pretty firmly against the bill, Republicans are on their own to pass it. LA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Latino economics, political clout linked – California’s growing Latino population is numerically strong but traditionally under-performs at election time – and that may have as much to do with economics as with politics. Capitol Weekly article

Bill Whelan: An independence rally behind the California flag? Choose one of these dates — If California’s feeling a little forlorn these days, it might be the one-two punch of postpartum non-secession depression – we’ve had a Brexit, maybe a Frexit, depending on how the French election plays out, but Calexit is a no-go for now – coupled with other states revisiting their historic roots while America’s nation-state finds its way in this turbulent time of angry populism. Whelan column in Sacramento Bee


Immigrants plan May Day rallies buoyed by Trump opposition – Immigrant groups and their allies have joined forces to carry out marches, rallies and protests in cities nationwide next week to mark May Day, saying there’s renewed momentum to fight back against Trump administration policies.  AP article

Trump critics toll his ‘criminal alien’ hotline with reports of UFOs and aliens — A newly unveiled federal hotline intended to collect reports of crimes committed by immigrants has instead been inundated by accounts of UFOs, killer robots and Superman. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

GOP shuts out doctors, experts, Democrats – pretty much everyone – as they work on Obamacare repeal – President Trump and House Republicans, in their rush to resuscitate a bill rolling back the Affordable Care Act, are increasingly isolating themselves from outside input and rejecting entreaties to work collaboratively, according to multiple healthcare officials who have tried to engage GOP leaders. LA Times article

Nowhere to run: No problem.  Bill would create powerful new job in California — Los Angeles has a problem, and it’s one the Democratic Party nationally could only dream of. There are too many current and aspiring elected officials and too few offices for them to seek. The dilemma is not just in L.A. California is so blue that the statewide route is clogged with ambitious politicians. Late Thursday came potentially upbeat news for some on the state’s deep bench: Legislation that would create one of the most powerful elected positions in California – county executive of Los Angeles. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article

Berkeley protests peaceful as hundreds rally over Coulter — Hundreds of people waving American flags and chanting “USA” held a raucous rally Thursday at a park in Berkeley — home of the free speech movement — to protest a canceled appearance by conservative commentator Ann Coulter, but the expected violence did not materialize. AP article; LA Times article

Modesto Bee: Modesto’s not Berkeley; Ann Coulter should be able to speak in peace — We’re not sure anyone is getting exactly what they bargained for in Ann Coulter’s visit to Modesto on Friday night. Modesto Bee editorial

Republicans back down from health-care push, clearing way for government to stay open — Despite pressure from the White House, House GOP leaders determined Thursday night that they don’t have the votes to pass a rewrite of the Affordable Care Act and will not seek to put their proposal on the floor on Friday. Washington Post article

Presidential Politics

This part of Trump’s tax proposal would penalize Californians more than almost anyone else — A proposal made by the Trump administration Wednesday would likely cause middle-class and wealthy Californians who itemize their federal tax returns to pay hundreds or thousands of additional tax dollars each year.  Sacramento Bee article

California attorney general takes on Big Oil in lawsuit against Trump administration — California and New Mexico are suing the Trump administration to get the federal government to enforce rules requiring companies to pay royalties on oil, gas and coal extracted from taxpayer-owned public lands. Sacramento Bee article

Anti-Trump movement nears 100 days of resistance — With President Trump about to get graded Saturday on his first 100 days in office, it’s also a good time to evaluate the anti-Trump resistance movement. As a cage match, it’s not even close: The resistance has had the better early run, mostly by playing defense. San Francisco Chronicle article

Victor Davis Hanson: Will 2020 be another 1972 for Democrats? — If in 2020 Democrats go hard left as they did in 1972, then they will likely lose just as big. Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Trump caves on the wall – and Democrats think he will again – President Donald Trump was supposedly girding for battle. Not even a week ago, ahead of a possible government shutdown, his aides said the president would insist on funding his border wall and the president himself was prepared to sabotage Obamacare to gain leverage. Politico article

Mexico sees Trump anew, as a ‘bluffer’ at the poker table – President Trump used to be able to anger Mexico easily, but leaders there have developed a thicker skin as they prepare to renegotiate Nafta with the United States. New York Times article

Trump stumbled on healthcare and immigration, but on the environment he’s been a ‘wrecking ball’ — In a Trump administration beset by lost opportunities, muddled strategies and frequent missteps in its first 100 days, one area stands out for its disciplined approach and early successes: the multi-front assault on environmental regulations. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

The West has a tricky, expensive water problem – and even solving it is controversial — A controversial California irrigation drainage deal designed to resolve one of the West’s trickiest, most expensive and longest-running water problems won approval from a key House of Representatives panel Thursday. But the debate – and uproar over the proposal – is only beginning, and its long-term fate is uncertain. McClatchy Newspapers article

City says Fresno’s anti-slumlord crackdown is working – Officials say the City of Fresno’s effort to step up code enforcement actions on slumlord property owners is showing results. The ASET team – which targets landlords who don’t maintain their properties to health and safety codes – has thus far taken action on 13 properties throughout the city, with many more as potential targets. Valley Public Radio report

Jobs and the Economy

Court: Employers can pay women less based on past salaries – Employers can legally pay women less than men for the same work based on differences in the workers’ previous salaries, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. AP article

Ag business accuses city of favoring Costco – Helena Chemical Co. has filed a lawsuit against the city of Hanford over issues related to plans for the company to move away from Costco. The legal complaint, filed April 11 in Kings County Superior Court, asks for $12 million in compensatory damages. Hanford Sentinel article

Foster Farms employees protest for better wages, affordable insurance, new contract — Dozens of Foster Farms employees took to streets outside the Livingston plant early Wednesday, holding signs and chanting to gather support for better wages and an improved labor union contract.  Merced Sun-Star article

Merced Soccer Academy to sign deal with MLS team Seattle Sounders — This weekend has a lot in store for Merced Atlas Soccer Academy. Representatives from the Major League Soccer team Seattle Sounders will be in Merced to close a deal with the Merced youth soccer academy, a Sounders representative confirmed to the Sun-Star. Details of the contract will be available after it is final. Merced Sun-Star article

March home sales best in 5 years in Sacramento County, CoreLogic report shows — Sacramento County rang up its best March home sales numbers in five years last month, and the median sales price for all homes was the highest since August 2007, according to Thursday’s report by Irvine-based real estate market tracker CoreLogic. Sacramento Bee article

Garcetti budget would reduce police patrols in neighborhoods and increase response times, LAPD union warns — The union that represents Los Angeles police officers launched a broadside against Mayor Eric Garcetti’s budget on Thursday, warning that the spending plan will divert funds away from neighborhood patrols and to the policing of Metro buses and trains. LA Times article

Bay Area home prices and sales heat up in March – The median price paid for all new and existing homes and condos sold in March was $709,000, up 6.2 percent from February and up 9.1 percent from March of last year, according to CoreLogic. The year-over-year increase was the highest for any month since January 2016. San Francisco Chronicle article

Federal regulator rachets up efforts to regulate tribal lenders, suing four in California – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched another salvo Thursday in its battle against the tribal lending industry, which has claimed it’s not subject to regulation by the agency. LA Times article

Study reveals why U.S. tech workers leave their jobs — The top reason why U.S. tech employees leave their jobs is “unfairness or mistreatment,” a study released Thursday by the Kapor Center for Social Impact and Harris Poll found.  San Jose Mercury News article

Visalia Chamber of Commerce goes green – In November, more than 57 percent of California voters puff-puff passed Proposition 64, which legalized the recreational use of marijuana in the state. And, while larger California cities are flocking to dispensaries and proudly displaying marijuana posters, little has changed for Tulare County growers. Marijuana business men and women are taking matters into their own hands. Visalia Times-Delta article

Foreign workers turn to alternative visas as H-1Bs tougher to get — Since 2012, the numbers of O-1 visas and L-1 visas (which are for intracompany transfers) have grown significantly, according to Department of Labor data. Such visas are generally processed faster and with less uncertainty than H-1B visas, which are capped at 85,000 a year for for-profit companies and awarded through a lottery system. San Francisco Chronicle article


Another Oroville Dam document is sealed – for now — California officials are keeping another document on the Oroville Dam recovery sealed from public view but promise to release a redacted version within a week. Sacramento Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Shooting rampage suspect Kori Ali Muhammad is mentally ill, his attorney says — Criminal proceedings were suspended again against suspected Fresno crime spree shooter Kori Ali Muhammad after his attorney on Thursday called into question Muhammad’s mental competency to face murder charges in connection with a deadly rampage near downtown Fresno that killed three people on April 18.  Fresno Bee article

‘Everyone you’ve got – get ‘em here.’ Police respond to fights after church’s teen event — The name Campus Clash proved prophetic Wednesday night. After a extremely spirited, extremely loud but friendly competition among high-schoolers in the main sanctuary of The House Modesto church on Coffee Road, several fights occurred both inside and outside the building and hundreds of students ran wildly, according to authorities and observers. Modesto Bee article

‘Unprecedented’ doctor shortage at California prison hurting inmate care, audit says — Investigators can’t say for sure that poor medical care contributed to the death of an inmate with a common heart condition at a high-security prison east of Sacramento last year, but the overworked system that ignored him didn’t help. Sacramento Bee article

Sacramento cops who shot armed mentally ill man honored in awards ceremony — Three officers involved in last year’s fatal shooting of a mentally ill man who was armed with a knife were honored Thursday at the Sacramento Police Department’s annual awards ceremony. Officers Jeffrey Todd Carr, Dustin Southward and Eric Toomey were presented with the department’s bronze medal of valor for the April 8, 2016, incident in which they shot and killed 40-year-old Dazion Flenaugh. Sacramento Bee article

The death penalty has long divided Americans. Here’s why those who oppose it are winning — Despite the high-profile executions in Arkansas — including the first double-execution in the nation in nearly 17 years — the use and support of the death penalty in the United States has steeply declined to levels unheard of in decades. LA Times article

Sacramento cop’s false testimony in federal lawsuit costs city $220,000 — The city of Sacramento agreed Thursday to settle a federal civil rights lawsuit for $220,000 after learning that one of three police officers named as defendants gave false testimony in the case. Sacramento Bee article


Trump executive order on education echoes Gov. Brown’s belief in ‘local control’ of schools — President Donald Trump’s executive order issued Wednesday bears striking similarities to the philosophy of local control espoused by Gov. Jerry Brown throughout his governorship, and is at the heart of landmark legislation adopted by the California Legislature nearly four years ago. EdSource article

Bill to lengthen probation for teachers clears first hurdle – Legislation to add a year to the two-year probationary period for California teachers passed the Assembly Education Committee, its first test, on Wednesday after contentious exchanges between the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, and committee Chairman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach. EdSource article

Joe Mathews: Thank goodness we have UC Berkeley to kick around — Thank you, Berkeley. Recent headlines should remind us Californians of yet another way we are lucky. Our state has the world’s best scapegoat: you. Mathews in Fresno Bee

‘Father’s Night’ events a way for dads, male mentors to engage with kids’ education – Dozens of fathers, grandfathers, uncles and additional family members spent late Thursday afternoon making several craft projects at the Stockton Children’s Museum for “Father’s Night,” a parent engagement event hosted by the Stockton Unified School District. Stockton Record article

As new law nears, Frontier High students learn how to save a life — Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation last year requiring California high schools to teach hands-on CPR training by 2018-2019. KHSD just received $25,000 worth of CPR training kits thanks to a donation from Chevron that will be used in every high school. The energy company has been working with KHSD for two years on the initiative. Bakersfield Californian article


Trump order could open California coast, Arctic to new oil and gas drilling – President Trump on Friday is expected to sign an executive order that could open large parts of the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans to new oil and gas drilling, a prospect that elicited a fierce backlash in California and elsewhere even before details of the order were clear. LA Times article

Health/Human Services

Trump’s tactics could destabilize California’s health insurance market, report says — According to officials who run the Covered California exchange, the state has a stable individual health insurance marketplace and so do other states under the Affordable Care Act. They fear, however, that President Donald Trump and Republican leaders could destabilize the individual insurance market by not enforcing the ACA’s individual mandate, which requires consumers to have coverage, and by stopping federal support for cost-sharing subsidies that help low-income residents pay for medical costs. Modesto Bee article

Measles at Disneyland, a vulnerable child and a new law prompted higher vaccination rates – The new vaccination law, Senate Bill 277, took effect at the start of this school year, eliminating the ability of a parent to obtain a “personal belief exemption” to opt out of vaccinating their children attending public and private schools. But the removal of the personal belief exemption doesn’t account for the overall rise in vaccination rates, according to a summary report from the California Department of Public Health. Instead, schools and parents started to take immunization far more seriously, health officials say. EdSource article

Daughter on Bakersfield Memorial Hospital fine: ‘This means justice for my mom’ — Loretta Shaver doesn’t want to remember her mother, Terry Smith, as the woman whose death might have been avoided at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. She prefers remembering her for who she was: the energetic 53-year-old jokester who played practical jokes and could spin a yarn. The one who spent the last year of her life caring for her 14-year-old son, despite struggling with a brain tumor. Bakersfield Californian article

Land Use/Housing

Stanislaus County leaders undecided about Fruit Yard concerts until they see the facts — Stanislaus County leaders will decide if a concert venue drawing thousands of spectators should be placed in a rural area east of Modesto. The Fruit Yard, at Geer Road and Highway 132, proposes a 3,500-person amphitheater for staging a dozen shows every year. Modesto Bee article

New lights, pool repairs: Two Fresno parks in line for improvements — They may not be the bright lights that many young ballplayers dream of in their futures, but the ball fields and basketball/tennis courts at Melody Park in east-central Fresno are in for a substantial lighting upgrade. Fresno Bee article

Politics stall decision on LAFCO public representative — City v. county politics upstaged cooperation for the general welfare Wednesday as Stanislaus Local Agency Formation Commission members deadlocked – and then refused to budge – in a crucial vote to determine its own composition. The result: no decision yet on a new commissioner representing the public at large. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Michael Fitzgerald: Hall on Wheels: Stockton looking to go mobile with city services – Escaping most citizens’ attention, on Tuesday the Stockton City Council approved spending $100,000 on a “Mobile City Hall.” The Council voted 7-0 to approve a consent calendar that included purchasing a customized “step van” loaded with computers, video monitors and information, piloted by a city staffer. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Atwater council members say they maintained Brown Act rules during restaurant meeting — Three Atwater City Council members and a candidate for city manager met at an Atwater restaurant this week after a council meeting, council members confirmed Thursday, raising questions about procedure. Merced Sun-Star article

John Ferdinandi: Catholic Charities: Moving forward after Fresno shooting tragedy – The board chair of Catholic Charities writes, “During a time when anyone else probably would have let that hope be taken from them, our team at Catholic Charities has refused to let the actions of an individual affect the good work we’re doing. As we chose to open our doors to serve the community the very next day, there was a line out the door.” Ferdinandi op-ed in Fresno Bee

Are dead people taking your parking space? — A recent state audit found a serious problem with the way California handles its parking placards and license plates for the disabled: Many of the roughly 2.9 million people with disabled parking privileges likely are dead. Sacramento Bee article

Dianne Hardisty: On vacation, coast to these farmers markets — There’s a common joke that all valley residents have to do to find their neighbors in the summer is to look west to the coast. Hardisty in Bakersfield Californian

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian Hits and misses: County counsel made the right call on “non-sanctuary’ county.

Modesto Bee – Modesto’s not Berkeley; Ann Coulter should be able to speak in peace.

Sacramento Bee –- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has reopened the fight over net neutrality. He thinks broadband internet should no longer be treated as a public utility, like telephone service. Instead, he wants the companies to police themselves, sacrificing consumer protections; Bike sharing is coming to Sacramento. Why did that take five years again?