April 29, 2017


Political Stories – Top stories

California gas increase is now the law. What is costs you and what it fixes — Now that Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law billions of dollars in higher fuel taxes and vehicle fees, the state will have an estimated $52 billion more money to help cover the state’s transportation needs for the next decade. Sacramento Bee article; LA Times article; AP article

How Ann Coulter wowed GOP faithful in Modesto.  How police were left smiling – Conservative firebrand Ann Coulter’s Friday evening speech at Modesto Centre Plaza drew hundreds of GOP faithful as well as dozens of demonstrators who lined the sidewalk and lawn outside the downtown convention center to show their support and disgust for Coulter. Modesto Bee article; ‘Video: Mike Dunbar on Ann Coulter’ in Modesto Bee

California’s budget could miss the mark on April tax revenues by $600 million — California’s most important month for collecting income taxes could end some $600 million short of official projections, based on preliminary data collected Friday. LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Brown administration releases draft rules for sale of medical marijuana in California — The Brown administration on Friday released draft regulations for the sale and use of medical marijuana in California, beginning a process that is likely to see changes sought by some in the industry, law enforcement and state legislators.  LA Times article

Valley politics

State Sen. Jean Fuller: Misplaced legislative priorities cost taxpayers billions – The Bakersfield Republican and former Senate Republican Leader writes, “It is time for the coastal elites who control Sacramento to take a broader look at the world and understand that their actions have an impact on real people who pay taxes, commute to work, and raise their families. We will not be bullied or bought off in order to support bad policy. We want a California that is more affordable. We want policies that value the labors of all people by taxing them as little as possible and spending those taxes efficiently and effectively.” Fuller op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Candidates raise about $230,000 in Bakersfield Ward 5 special election – With early voting for the Ward 5 Bakersfield City Council special election just a few weeks away, businessman Bruce Freeman is leading in fundraising, having raised about $42,800 more than the next candidate, according to newly filed campaign finance reports. Bakersfield Californian article

Deep Singh: Lost in translation: Valley Punjabi-speakers are cheated out of voting rights, health care – The executive director of the Jakarta Movement writes, “While the California of a bygone era is no longer recognizable, many Sikhs remain excluded from fully participating in electoral and civil life, and receiving the vital resources they need. The reason for this contemporary exclusion is rather tragic.” Singh op-ed in Fresno Bee

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Villaraigosa pledges to restore ‘a little luster’ to the California Dream in a campaign stop in the Inland Empire — Antonio Villaraigosa argued Friday that he is best suited to be California’s next governor because he had been tested when he was Los Angeles’ mayor during the recession, and had proven that he could make politically unpopular decisions in the best interests of the people. LA Times article

California Politics Podcast: Live from the LA Times Festival of Books — This week, a special episode from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. A panel of Times political writers discusses the view from California in the era of Trump. With John Myers, Melanie Mason, Mark Barabak, Seema Mehta and Liam Dillon.  California Politics Podcast


ICE data shows half of immigrants arrested in raids had traffic convictions or no record — About half of the 675 immigrants picked up in roundups across the United States in the days after President Trump took office either had no criminal convictions or had committed traffic offenses, mostly drunken driving, as their most serious crimes, according to data obtained by The Washington Post. Washington Post article

Darius Assemi: Illegal immigrants will ruin America.  But only if we kick them out – The Fresno builder, farmer and philanthropist writes, “Would it surprise you to learn that illegal immigrants have the potential to ruin our country – if they leave? In fact, mass deportation would abruptly collapse our agriculture, construction and hospitality industries leading to a downward spiral of our economy.” Assemi op-ed in Fresno Bee

Other areas

‘Trump rates’ or Obamacare rates? Health plans can send both to California regulators – When California health insurance companies begin setting 2018 rates next week, they’ll be able to offer two different projections without committing to either one. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is inviting the 15 or so health insurance providers the state regulates to draw up rates based on different scenarios centered on how the Trump administration enforces the Affordable Care Act. Sacramento Bee article

It may not be time for single-payer health care in California, Assembly leader says – Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, visited The Bee Capitol Bureau on Wednesday to discuss some of the biggest issues facing the California Legislature this year. Here’s what he had to say.  Sacramento Bee article

Congress backs one more week of government spending, averts shutdown — Congress averted a partial government shutdown Friday, approving a one-week spending measure to keep agencies and service running while lawmakers negotiate on a longer-term spending deal. McClatchy Newspapers article

Dan Morain: How $3 million in political donations stands in the way of justice for this boy’s death — Caleb Sears’ grandmother, Ann Bentley, was sitting at the front of a Capitol committee room, making sure legislators could see the framed photograph she held of the smiling boy, frozen in black and white, at age 6. Caleb’s aunt and uncle, Annie and Sebastian Kaplan, were there, too. Caleb’s father, Tim Sears, would come to testify the following day. His mother, Eliza Sears, stayed behind at their East Bay home, caring for the infant daughter who would never come to know her brother. “It has been education in how democracy works,” Annie Kaplan said. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Foon Rhee: Will Republican congressmen repeat Trumpcare failure? — If some Republican congressmen from California don’t learn from the Trumpcare debacle, this time it could be poor kids who lose out. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

Congress at 100 days: Frenetic action but few achievements — A chaotic White House and the growing use of arcane rules that disenfranchise the minority party have created one of the least productive opening acts by Congress in recent memory. New York Times article

Troubled tax board needs appointed chief counsel, member says — A member of the California tax board that’s under sanctions from Gov. Jerry Brown wants the state’s attorney general to appoint an outside lawyer to review internal legal opinions that allow its elected leaders to steer resources to their own projects. Sacramento Bee article

Will pie guy be tried? Not if DA can’t find a judge by Monday, his lawyer says – Sacramento prosecutors are on the clock if they want to continue pursuing criminal charges against Sean Thompson, who smashed a pie in the face of former Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson last September, Thompson’s attorney said Friday. Sacramento Bee article

Presidential Politics

Economic growth stumbles to worst rate in two years, underscoring Trump’s challenge —  The economy stumbled at the start of 2017, expanding at its slowest pace in two years in a demonstration of the difficulty President Trump will have in boosting growth to a much stronger sustained level. LA Times article

Trump executive order seeks to open coast waters to oil drilling – President Trump on Friday signed an executive order to expand oil and gas drilling off the nation’s shoreline, a move that is opening old wounds for Californians all too familiar with fights over their coastal waters.  San Francisco Chronicle article; LA Times article; San Jose Mercury News article

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra vows to fight an any attempt to allow more oil drilling off coast of state — California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said Friday he is prepared to fight any attempt to expand oil drilling off the California coast despite an order signed by President Trump calling for a study of new oil and natural gas exploration. LA Times article

Trump will face a seawall of opposition in California over his directive considering new offshore drilling – President Trump painted a golden future of “great wealth” and “great jobs” powered by oil pumped from the ocean floor as he signed an executive order on Friday to consider new offshore drilling around the country. But his efforts could splash harmlessly against the hardened barricades that California has been fortifying for decades with regulation and legislation to prevent additional drilling along its treasured coast. LA Times article

California just took a step to block Trump’s efforts on offshore drilling – Off-shore oil drilling is shaping up as the next big fight in California vs. Trump war. In response to President Donald Trump’s latest executive order aimed at expanding offshore oil drilling in federal waters and opening up other areas to new oil and gas exploration, state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson is proposing new legislation to block Trump’s efforts. Sacramento Bee article

The environmental disaster that changed California – and started the movement against offshore oil drilling — California has been a leader in restricting offshore oil drilling since the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill. It was the worst oil spill in the nation’s history – until 20 years later, when the Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million gallons of crude off the coast of Alaska. The spill was a seminal moment in both California and American environmental history. LA Times article

Sacramento Bee: Trump aims at California is his first 100 days – President Donald Trump’s first 100 days are empty of significant legislation, and marred by his epic defeat on repealing Obamacare. But Trump is anything but a typical president. And he’s using all his powers to remake the nation, with California squarely in his crosshairs. Sacramento Bee editorial

Trump makes it clear: He owes the NRA, big time, and he plans to pay it back – In the first presidential speech to the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting in more than three decades, Donald Trump on Friday pledged to repay gun owners for helping to propel him to his stunning rise to the White House. McClatchy Newspapers article

Trump appoints Valley water district’s lobbyist to Interior Department post — President Trump has appointed David Bernhardt, until late last year a lobbyist and attorney for the San Joaquin Valley’s powerful Westlands Water District, to a top post in the Department of the Interior. KQED report

Trump’s major accomplishment after 100 days: He’s still controlling the conversation — In his nearly 100 days in the White House, President Donald Trump has seen his share of ups and downs on a host of domestic and foreign policy issues, from illegal immigration to Syria, taxes to China and everything in between. McClatchy Newspapers article

Foon Rhee: President Bernie Sanders? It’s wishful thinking – I wonder how many of his fervent backers will still #FeelTheBern in 2020, when Sanders will be 79. Seriously, if Democrats can’t come up with someone better and newer than Sanders, they deserve to lose again. Rhee in Sacramento Bee

News Stories – Top Stories

Positive sign in oil industry not yet seen as boon to local fields – yet — The indicators Friday seemed potentially encouraging for Kern’s oil industry, which has been in the doldrums for more than two years, since crude prices began to fall amid declining demand and surging production. Unfortunately, the developments do not necessarily translate to better times in Kern’s oil patch. Bakersfield Californian article

California and Iran pistachio producers pitch shells at one another in tariff fight — Pistachios now pose the latest flashpoint between Iran and the United States. As the two countries struggle to redefine their relationship over weighty matters such as nuclear policy, California pistachio producers have another mission. McClatchy Newspapers article

Jobs and the Economy

Measure N goes full force in Visalia – How much would you pay for more cops on the streets, better firefighting equipment, safer roads and improved parks? In Visalia, shoppers are paying a half-cent for every dollar they spend. Visalia Times-Delta article

Madera dealership sees a future for car sales online – Some say the days of brick-and-mortar stores are numbered, as consumers increasingly go online to buy goods and services. But that hasn’t held completely true for car dealerships, most of which use websites to hawk their inventories, promote deals and draw customers to their lots. But those sites have fallen short in a big way, as customers couldn’t actually buy cars online. At the Madera Auto Center, principal owner Marty Mayfohrt is looking to change that by offering visitors to his website a “buy” function that allows them to go through most of the process of buying a car online, minimizing the time they have to be on his lots. The Business Journal article

Modesto antique stores surprised by regulations they say will hurt businesses — The owners of three antiques and collectables stores in Modesto said they were blindsided recently when a Modesto Police Department employee gave them a three-inch stack of paperwork outlining requirements they must abide by as secondhand dealers – and a three-month deadline to comply. Modesto Bee article

As shoppers shift online, so do Southern California jobs — As shoppers increasingly move to the Internet world, so too is employment, with Southern California clearly illustrating retail’s dramatic restructuring. Although there’s no discounting the damage done to employees as retail jobs disappear along with stores, other jobs are being created as Amazon, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and other online retailers erect massive distribution and warehousing centers to handle the growing torrent of e-commerce orders in the region. LA Times article

Give Big Kern benefits from kindness – even from a 5-year-old – Five-year-old Josiah Menjivar had been hearing about Give Big Kern from his dad at home, and he decided he wanted to help. The 24-hour crowd-funding campaign — which culminates Tuesday — is designed to bring the county together as one community, raising dollars and volunteer hours for more than 100 participating local nonprofits. And while he wasn’t quite sure about all those details, Josiah knows the nonprofit his dad works for, Habitat for Humanity Golden Empire, is his favorite. Bakersfield Californian article

Fresno banking firm to acquire Folsom Lake Bank — Fresno-based Central Valley Community Bancorp announced that it will acquire Folsom Lake Bank under a merger deal signed by both parties. Folsom Lake Bank, founded in 2007, operates three full-service branches in Folsom, Rancho Cordova and Roseville. Sacramento Bee article

Oakland council members blast Mayor Schaaf for soda tax ‘bait and switch’ — Three council members are blasting Mayor Libby Schaaf’s plan to spend revenue from a successful soda tax measure to help close the city’s budget deficit, calling the mayor’s proposal a “bait and switch” on voters. East Bay Times article

Lawsuit accuses Uber of ripping off drivers, paying them smaller fares than what passengers pay — The hits keep coming for Uber — and not the good kind. The embattled ride-share company, already buffeted by a barrage of lawsuits and public-relations crises, is being sued again. This time, a driver is alleging that the Silicon Valley behemoth’s fare structure deliberately shortchanges drivers. LA Times article


Modesto considers easing rules to allow watering 3 days a week – Modesto residents may be able water their lawns three times a week for the first time in a couple of years. Utilities Director Larry Parlin said he expects to bring a proposal to the City Council on May 23 to ease the restrictions Modesto put in place because of the drought. It includes allowing outdoor watering three times a week, increasing the number of hours for outdoor watering, and letting people hand water trees and shrubs at any time. The new watering rules would be effective June 1 through Sept. 30. Modesto Bee article

California proposes strict limit on toxic chemical in drinking water — California regulators are proposing a strict limit on a toxic man-made chemical that has contaminated water supplies throughout the state, particularly in its vast agricultural heartland. KQED report

How many almond acres in Golden State? A cool million, USDA estimates — The feds have a hunch that almond orchards in California have reached 1 million acres. That preliminary number for 2017 is a sign that the industry keeps booming despite a five-year drought that stressed many growers. And it’s welcome news to the holders of an estimated 97,000 jobs generated by farming, processing and the ripple effect. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Review board finds officer within department policy in shooting attempted murder suspect – A Bakersfield Police Department review board has determined that all shots fired by an officer in connection with the January killing of an attempted murder suspect were within department policy and state and federal guidelines. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton police listening tour aimed at building trust – For many months now, Police Chief Eric Jones has been on a tour. Not a speaking tour or addressing large town halls, although he does plenty of that. No, this tour is specifically about listening.  Stockton Record article

Judge: California must allow transgender inmates’ earrings – California prison officials must provide for free undergarments that flatten the chest of transgender inmates at women’s prisons and give transgender inmates at men’s prisons access to bracelets, earrings, hair brushes and hair clips, a federal judge said Friday. AP article

Rescue dogs trained by inmates ready for next step on path to aid veterans – Three dogs and their trainers celebrated on Friday the completion of their first round of training to become service dogs for military veterans. But the dogs aren’t just any dogs, and they don’t have typical trainers, either. The future service dogs are rescue dogs from Fresno Humane Animal Services. And, their trainers are inmates at Valley State Prison. Merced Sun-Star article

Officers should not have gotten medals for shooting mentally ill man, protestors say – A group of about two dozen protesters at Sacramento City Hall on Friday night said officers involved in the fatal shooting of Dazion Flenaugh, a mentally ill homeless man, should not have been awarded medals of valor at a police ceremony this week. Sacramento Bee article

Parents won’t have to foot the bill for kids’ stints in juvenile hall – Sacramento County has stopped charging parents whose kids live in juvenile hall, part of a growing movement to end fees that fall disproportionately on low-income and minority families who struggle to pay. Sacramento Bee article

OC deputies complained of lax policies before 2016 jail escape, but they were ignored, grand jury finds – Deputies at the Central Men’s Jail in Santa Ana had long complained of flawed inmate monitoring procedures that allowed three men to escape from the facility last year, but nothing was done to correct the problem, according to a report released by the Orange County Grand Jury this week.  LA Times article

BART makes first arrest in teen takeover robbery as police declare ‘emergency’ — BART investigators have made their first arrest in connection with last Saturday evening’s takeover robbery by dozens of juveniles who mobbed a train at Coliseum Station in Oakland, officials said Friday.  San Francisco Chronicle article

‘How many people are being shot?’ LA sheriff’s watchdog decries lack of transparency – A little more than two years ago, the primary watchdog over the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department laid out numerous ways the agency was failing to provide the public with basic information about how often deputies use force, the number of complaints alleging misconduct and how many deputies were being disciplined. This week, Inspector General Max Huntsman complained that little has changed. LA Times article


Merced College plays heavily into upward mobility, president says – Merced College has an impact on upward mobility in the region, and will play a major role in how the city improves, the school’s president said on Friday. Merced Sun-Star article

Lemoore schools to test for lead in water – At the Lemoore City Council’s last regular meeting on April 18, Public Works Director Nathan Olson said Lemoore Union Elementary School District and the Lemoore Union High School District have already asked the department to test for lead in their schools’ water systems. Hanford Sentinel article

Sara Sandrik: Merced City School District Montessori program offers educational alternative – The public information officer for the Merced City School District writes, “For some people, Montessori education may be a bit of a mystery. There often is confusion about how it differs from the traditional classroom setting and what students do on a daily basis. I recently had a chance to learn more about the Merced City School District’s Montessori program and wanted to share that information since we are currently accepting applications. We have one of the only public Montessori programs in the Central Valley, and it is offered as a free educational alternative to children who meet the appropriate age requirements for school entry.” Sandrik column in Merced Sun-Star

At 100-day mark, Trump falls short on education and child care pledges – President Donald Trump has fallen far short of fulfilling his pledges regarding child care, school choice and college affordability outlined in his “100 day action plan to Make America Great Again.” EdSource article

Green Valley Charter claims automatic renewal with Los Banos school district, pursues state charter — The Green Valley Charter School’s last ditch efforts at surviving for next school year now depend on legal wrangling with the Los Banos Unified School District, or the California Board of Education. Los Banos Enterprise article


For tree canopy, ‘Paris isn’t in our league,’ Sacramento arborist says — Sacramento’s status as “City of Trees,” whether celebrated by a water tower or not, is healthy – and so are the city’s trees. Kevin Hocker, the city’s lead arborist, said Sacramento’s public trees are in great shape despite enduring five years of drought followed by flooding rains and powerful winds this winter that caused a spike in the number of trees his department was forced to cut down. Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services

$1 million gift will help Valley Children’s as it cares for young patientsValley Childlren’s Healthcare is being given $1 million from a Fresno family to create an endowed chair for pediatrics and to create a pediatric residency program. The hospital has also been honored with one of four grants being given by the American Academy of Pediatrics for advocacy training. Fresno Bee article

An illness common on cruise ships is hitting schools and daycare centers — Norovirus, known for turning a vacation cruise into days of misery for passengers, has been making children ill in Fresno County. The county health department said Friday that in recent weeks there have been multiple cases of norovirus in schools and childcare centers. Fresno Bee article

Kings County man first person this year with West Nile in California – A Kings County man is the first person in California to be infected with West Nile virus this year. County health officials said Friday tests completed at the state laboratory on April 26 confirmed the infection. Fresno Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Council compromises on furniture zoning – The Hanford City Council has compromised on where to allow stores selling furniture. As part of a general plan and zoning ordinance overhaul, the council voted 4-0 Monday to set a 20,000 square-foot maximum on how much furniture floor space stores can have if they locate on the 12th Avenue corridor and at the Costco center. Hanford Sentinel article

Buyer found for ‘Speakeasy’ house in downtown Bakersfield – The “Speakeasy” house on 24th Street was bought at auction and will remain in downtown Bakersfield, according to City Manager Alan Tandy’s weekly memo to the mayor and City Council that came out Friday. Bakersfield Californian article

Other areas

Atwater to reboot city manager search after controversy – After a controversial search process that upset residents in Atwater, the City Council has decided to hit the reset button on city manager recruitment, this time using a headhunting firm. Merced Sun-Star article

Navy families worry about their loves ones on aircraft carrier targeted in North Korea’s war of words — World politics intruded into this close-knit military community of the Lemoore Naval Air Station this week when it was reported that North Korea had threatened to sink the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier. Fresno Bee article

Andrew Fiala: It’s actually easy to tell real journalism from fake news.  Here’s how – The professor of philosophy and director of The Ethics Center at Fresno State writes, “While technological solutions can help reduce the proliferation of fake news, the real solution is critical thinking and self-examination. The most obvious key is to seek out multiple sources of information. You should also compare what you read or hear against commonly held background knowledge. Critical media consumers also ask some of the following questions.” Fiala column in Fresno Bee

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno BeeThumbs up, thumbs down.

Modesto Bee – Oakdale residents fear having a roundabout on Highway 120, but Escalon residents don’t want to lose theirs on McHenry

Sacramento Bee –- President Donald Trump’s first 100 days are empty of significant legislation, and marred by his epic defeat on repealing Obamacare. But Trump is anything but a typical president. And he’s using all his powers to remake the nation, with California squarely in his crosshairs.