April 5, 2017


Political Stories

Top stories


Dan Walters: Will your income taxes in California go up under Trump? — This year, Californians – particularly affluent Californians – will deduct at least $100 billion in state and local taxes, primarily income taxes, from their federally taxable incomes, thus saving them at least $20 billion. Eliminating the deduction, as some Republicans propose, would give the federal government a big injection of revenue, with about a fifth of the windfall coming from California because it has the nation’s highest state income tax rates. Walters column in Sacramento Bee


California farming groups band together to oppose gas tax increase to repair roads — A coalition of two dozen agricultural industry groups has announced its opposition to proposed gas tax and vehicle fee increases to pay for road repairs, saying the additional costs will be a burden on struggling farming operations without greatly expanding the capacity of roads to transport goods.  LA Times article


DHS: Immigration agents may arrest crime victims, witnesses at courthouse – Immigration agents may arrest crime victims and witnesses at courthouses, a homeland security official said Tuesday, highlighting a growing dispute between the Trump administration and some state court officials who fear the practice will hinder law enforcement work in their jurisdictions. Washington Post article


Gov. Brown


Gov. Brown’s big transportation package faces staunch opposition — The Democratic plan to fix California’s roads faces major opposition from environmental and health advocates who are furious about a provision in the legislation that they say would give the trucking industry a significant break from pollution regulations. San Francisco Chronicle article

Valley politics


Will handling of Russia investigation harm Nunes’ political future? – Valley congressman Devin Nunes is at the center of a political storm in Washington D.C. Politicians on both sides of the aisle have asked him to step aside from the investigation into potential connections between President Donald Trump and Russia. Some are worried that Nunes is too close to the president. But will the scandal will harm Nunes’ popularity? Valley Public Radio report


Late-night TV hosts take their jabs at Devin Nunes’ great White House adventure — Being a former farmer and all, Devin Nunes probably has heard “you reap what you sow” more times than he’d care to count. The Republican congressman from Tulare is living the proverb, for better or worse. His position as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in combination with his tight relationship with Team Trump ignited a wild ride filled with eye-popping accusations, terse statements, and one mysterious, late-night visit to the White House. Fresno Bee article


Statewide politics/Ballot Measures


California governor candidates back criminal justice reforms – Three Democrats running for California governor are calling for criminal justice policies that focus on youth development and support for crime victims over tough-on-crime measures that increase incarceration. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and state Treasurer John Chiang spoke separately Tuesday at a conference in Sacramento organized by the left-leaning advocacy group Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice. AP article; Sacramento Bee article


Is Feinstein’s age an issue? Many voters think so — Here’s a twist: When voters are asked to choose from a list of candidates they’d support if Feinstein does not seek re-election, Jerry Brown, who will be 80 next year, receives support from the highest percentage of voters (23 percent), followed by Fresno’s former mayor, Ashley Swearengin, a Republican (22 percent). KQED report




Immigration debate zeroes in on Sacramento County Jail that holds undocumented immigrants for the feds — The Sheriff’s Department maintains a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, to house dozens of undocumented immigrants at the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center, a jail in Elk Grove that the department operates. The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the contract in June 2013, and it runs through June 30, 2018. Sacramento Bee article


Will East Bay jail give ICE space under ‘sanctuary state’ bill? — Long-standing lucrative jail contracts between California sheriff’s departments and federal agencies could unravel if state legislators pass a bill barring local law enforcement from cooperating with immigration authorities, critics of the legislation said Tuesday. San Francisco Chronicle article


Border agency fields pitches for Trump’s wall with Mexico — As Tuesday’s deadline for bids passed, U.S. Customs and Border Protection declined to identify bidders or say how many there were, which is standard practice in government contracting. The federal government expects to announce around June 1 which companies will be hired to build prototypes. AP article; LA Times article


California members of Congress worry Homeland Security isn’t taking their immigration concerns seriously — California members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said Tuesday that they still feel Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is dismissing their stories about misbehaving immigration officials. LA Times article


Border turns quiet under Trump amid steep drop in arrests — Immigrants who are still coming say many people in their home countries are staying home amid fears about President Donald Trump’s immigration rhetoric, putting off coming to the U.S. until they see how his policies play out. AP article


For Fresno’s Syrian refugees, assistance workers say community is key to recovery — While immigrant rights and sanctuary cities may be flash points right now in today’s political climate, it may be easy to forget that the San Joaquin Valley has a long history of opening its doors to immigrants as well as refugees fleeing struggles in their home countries. On Tuesday, April 4, Fresno State is hosting a symposium to educate students and the community about some of their newest neighbors: Syrian refugees. Valley Public Radio report

Other areas


State Sen. Anthony Cannella and Assemblymember Adam Gray: Gas tax must be fair for Valley’s working families – Cannella (R-Ceres) and Gray (D-Merced) write, “There are a lot of promises being made for the $5.2 billion a year the plan will generate, but the question we must answer is whether this plan makes good on its promises here in the Valley.” Cannella/Gray op-ed in Merced Sun-Star


Joel Fox: Gas tax plan is not only about fixing the roads — Assemblyman Vince Fong added a twist to the gas tax increase debate releasing comments from the Legislative Analyst on the potential increase in fuel prices if the cap-and-trade law extends beyond 2020. After answering Fong’s questions about the effects of cap-and-trade, the LAO made additional comments, which reminded readers of a key element behind the cost increase move—to discourage consumption of carbon-based fuels.  Fox in Fox & Hounds


Ronald Reagan was president the last time the California Legislature was so popular — The Democratic-controlled Legislature is viewed more favorably by voters than at any time in nearly three decades, and Gov. Jerry Brown’s job performance has hit record highs, according to a new statewide poll released late Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article


California bill to eliminate bail clears first hurdle – A bill to do away with California’s bail system — which reform advocates say punishes the poor for being poor — cleared its first legislative hurdle Tuesday, inching the state closer to sweeping criminal-justice reform being proposed across the country. East Bay Times article


Equal pay eludes California’s working women, lawmakers say – Marking Equal Pay Day on Tuesday, female lawmakers sounded the alarm about the status of working women in California: From inequality in wages to lack of family friendly workplaces, the California Legislative Women’s Caucus says things have to change. And they have proposed legislation to do that. KQED report


California moves to unite conflicting cannabis laws – California is one step closer to resolving tricky legal conflicts on its path to becoming the nation’s largest marijuana economy. Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration released documents outlining proposed changes to square the state’s new recreational pot law with its longstanding law on medical marijuana. AP article


Survivors seek healing, criminal justice reforms during victims’ rights week event — Sitting in the hot sun in front of the state Capitol building Tuesday, Stockton resident Tashante McCoy-Ham gently placed her fingers on near her wrist as she spoke. The small patch of skin bore a tattoo of heart donning a pair of angel wings. In the middle of the piece, an elegant letter “T” was inscribed onto her skin. Sacramento Bee article


With Gorsuch nomination to Supreme Court, GOP seems poised to kill a tradition — The Senate Republicans who kept a Supreme Court seat vacant for more than nine months last year appear poised to change one of the Senate’s most-treasured rules in order to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the position by a simple majority vote. McClatchy Newspapers article


Presidential Politics


Fist or glove? California Democrats debate response to Trump — After greeting the election of Donald J. Trump with a defiant stream of attacks, California Democrats are now divided over how best to deal with an administration whose policies on immigration, health care and the environment loom as a threat to years of established law here.New York Times article


White House and GOP aim for do-over of failed Obamacare repeal, but chances for agreement are slim — Frustrated with their failure to repeal Obamacare, and wary of facing voters over spring recess, House Republicans are embarking on another push to salvage President Trump’s promise to replace the Affordable Care Act. LA Times article


California Government Today:

Senate Daily File

Assembly Daily File

News Stories

Top Stories


Drought may be nearly over, but Californians are still saving water — Californians are still conserving substantial amounts of water even as Gov. Jerry Brown appears ready to rescind or relax his drought declaration. The State Water Resources Board announced Tuesday that urban Californians reduced water usage by 25.1 percent in February, compared with the state’s baseline year of 2013. Sacramento Bee article


Stockton City Council decides future is in downtown, infill development — After hearing from a broad swath of the community — including a poet and a pastor, an environmentalist and a 16-year-old high school student — the City Council directed staff members Tuesday night to develop a new land-use plan for Stockton that promotes downtown and neighborhood revitalization.  Stockton Record article


Kern supervisors looking for better pot shop enforcement — Kern County supervisors on Tuesday extended a moratorium on the opening or relocation of medical marijuana shops in county territory, meaning outside the limits of incorporated cities.  Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno County to pay $8 million to state for costs tied to workers’ pensions — Fresno County supervisors approved an $8.4 million payment to the state Controller’s Office Tuesday for two years of costs the county owes for refinancing its pension obligation bonds.  Fresno Bee article


Show them the money: Fresno supervisors approve raises for department leaders after salary survey — Nine leaders of 14 departments in Fresno County government got raises Tuesday from the Board of Supervisors in an attempt to make salaries more competitive with surrounding counties. Fresno Bee article


Visalia council says no to privatizing solid waste collection– Visalia City Council narrowly passed on considering privatizing the city’s solid waste collection service. In a 3-2 vote, council voted down a request from Phil Cox to have city administrators prepare a report on cost for the service and possible consideration of privatizing the service. Visalia Times-Delta article


Pay gap between men and women in California is nearly $79 billion a year — A woman who works full time in California makes a median income of $43,335, compared with a median of $50,562 for a man, according to an analysis of Census Bureau data conducted by the National Partnership for Women and Families, an advocacy group. That makes for a difference of a little more than $7,200 a year, or the average cost of more than five months of rent in the state. LA Times article


Common Space nonprofit incubator opens in downtown Fresno — Justin Kamimoto is creating a downtown Fresno incubator for nonprofit organizations. Think of a mini tech hub like Bitwise Industries, only for nonprofit organizations or people “who want to collaborate and create incredible possibilities,” Kamimoto said. Its name is Common Space. Fresno Bee article


Sacramento begins accepting applications for commercial marijuana grow rooms — Sacramento has begun accepting applications for commercial marijuana cultivation, starting the process of permitting licensed grow rooms to operate in mostly light industrial zones in the capital city. Sacramento Bee article


Tulare looking to promote more big development – Ask Tulare community leaders about the last big commercial development there, and they might say it’s been so long they can’t recall. Acting City Manager Joe Carlini is looking to change that. The Business Journal article


Salida Fire Board approves lifetime medical benefit for county fire warden — The Salida Fire Protection District board voted Monday to approve lifetime medical benefits for Stanislaus County Fire Warden Dale Skiles. Skiles will receive the health coverage for himself and dependents upon retirement, though some former employees of the district question the fairness.  Modesto Bee article


LA City Council backs plan to borrow $60 million to pay off legal settlements — The Los Angeles City Council took a step Tuesday toward borrowing up to $60 million to pay for legal payouts and court judgments despite a warning by City Controller Ron Galperin that the borrowing proposal is costly and unnecessary. LA Times article


LA County supervisors looking into how to discipline its bad workers — The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to look for ways to make it easier to fire or reassign sheriff’s deputies, social workers and other county employees who have been dishonest or committed other serious misconduct. LA Times article




Most Valley water agencies saved more in February amid drenching rains. Two didn’t — The State Water Resources Control Board said 17 of the 19 water agencies in the region that reported data to the state conserved more water in February than they had in February 2016. The comparisons measure savings against what was used in 2013. Only two – Pinedale County Water District in Fresno, and Visalia (served by California Water Service Company) – did worse. Fresno Bee article


Feinstein fumes as Trump team waives environmental review for Mojave water project – The Trump administration has handed a big boost to a private water venture in Southern California, angering California’s senior senator, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who said the decision could “destroy pristine public land” in the Mojave Desert. McClatchy Newspapers article; LA Times article


Lois Henry: Survey says – we’ve got a boatload of water coming soon – The numbers are in and they are good. Amazing, actually. The April 1 manual snowpack survey for the Kern River basin shows we are at an overall 215 percent of average, according to the Department of Water Resources. (See side box for particulars.)  Henry column in Bakersfield Californian


Michael Fitzgerald: A blues song for Delta asparagus – Wow, how sad to hear that the local asparagus industry, which gave Stockton a delicacy and a first-class festival, is dying from changing economics and regulations.  Stockton Record article


Danny Morrison: Cesar Chavez’s legacy is in good hands — Cesar Chavez is still with us. His torch has been placed in the hands of those who understand the importance of empowerment. On occasion, into the hands of those same farmworkers that Chavez helped during his years of activism. Coincidentally, the hands of field hands. Si Se Puede. Y eventualmente sucederá. Thank you, Cesar. Your life and legacy are in good hands. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian


Oakdale Irrigation District could be heading toward a major shake-up — Nearly two years after The Modesto Bee exposed the Oakdale Irrigation District’s failure to resize its voting divisions, and a little more than two weeks after civil grand jurors blasted OID for the same reason, the board on Tuesday gave a 4-0 nod to a redistricting plan that will not protect Gary Osmundson’s seat when he moves to a new home in a few weeks.  Modesto Bee article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Tulare County inmates strike — Tulare County inmates are choosing to go without food in protest of what they describe as “poor” conditions. Visalia Times-Delta article


Groups complain video visitation in jail often means end to in-person visits — Technology like Facetime and Skype has made talking face-to-face over long distances as easy as opening an app. Now even jails are offering video calls to connect inmates and their families. But some civil liberties groups say the new technology shouldn’t replace in-person visits. Valley Public Radio report


Stockton police add officer, recruit and trainee — The Stockton Police Department swore in one new officer and introduced a trainee and a recruit on Tuesday afternoon. The addition of Jessica Rivera brings the total number of sworn officers to 430, closer to the approved staffing level of 485. Stockton Record article


Civil rights groups alarmed at Justice Department’s review of local police settlements — Civil rights groups and experts on police reform expressed alarm Tuesday at Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions’ order for a review of more than a dozen federal agreements with police forces that address problems of racial profiling, discrimination and use of excessive force.  LA Times article; New York Times article


No DOJ, no problem: Commission president says San Francisco Police Department will reform with or without feds — The president of San Francisco’s Police Commission says that if the U.S. Justice Department ends its oversight of the SFPD, the city will move forward on its own to implement hundreds of reforms prompted by a series of fatal officer-involved shootings and racist text message scandals. KQED report




Fresno Unified will maintain after-school programs threatened by Trump’s budget — Fresno Unified will maintain its after-school programs and other federally funded resources threatened by President Donald Trump’s proposed budget regardless of what happens in the White House. Fresno Bee article


Nan Austin: Crossed wires? No, dyslexic brains different, may be more agile — Oh, brain science! First you tell us a can-do attitude can make difficult math doable. Now you say those who struggle to read have learning advantages. It boggles the mind. But it also gives hope to folks like Curtis Haney, a pilot who has struggled to read at regular speed all his life. Austin in Modesto Bee


Merced College launches new recognition for STEM students — Merced College announced a new award on Tuesday called the STEM Student of the Month, according to officials. The inaugural award, which focuses on science, technology, engineering and math, went to Golden Valley High School graduate Mikayla Whitfield, who has a career goal of attending medical school to become a pediatrician or general practitioner, according to a news release. Merced Sun-Star article


New San Francisco school superintendent to make $310,000 a year — The San Francisco school board officially hired the district’s new superintendent, paying him the same $310,000 salary as his predecessor. San Francisco Chronicle article




IOUs paying for Corcoran levee work — As work continues on a $14 million project to raise a flood control levee around Corcoran in anticipation of possible flooding from a giant snowpack, the work is being paid for with IOUs. Hanford Sentinel article


Health/Human Services


Carmen George: Cancer and an amputation left her near death. Laughter and a joyful spirit helped her heal — A walk across the kitchen is a big challenge for Linda Perry, but slow and labored steps don’t weigh down her buoyant spirit. With every inch she gains with the help of her new walker and prosthetic leg, she smiles big and laughs long and hard. George in Fresno Bee


Land Use/Housing


Speakeasy house one step closer to redemption — A two-story, 95-year-old gem of a house standing in the path of the 24th Street widening project is one step closer to being saved from the wrecking ball. But its survival is not yet guaranteed. Bakersfield Californian article


Other areas


Inspectors’ demand that extension cord be removed may have led to fatal Oakland fire — Three days before a candle likely ignited a Oakland apartment house blaze that killed four people, inspectors ordered a dangerous extension cord removed from the same room where the fire started. East Bay Times article


Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – Our hope is that this tax-and-spend bill will die, thus forcing Brown and the Democrats to negotiate with Republicans and other stakeholders to come up with something that fixes roads, builds new ones and works for all Californians. That truly would be cutting-edge leadership.


Merced Sun-Star – Democrats must consider Neil Gorsuch on merits alone.


Modesto Bee – Democrats must consider Neil Gorsuch on merits alone.


Sacramento Bee –- California is held up as a model of pay equity and family friendly workplaces. But as another Equal Pay Day passed on Tuesday, old loopholes continued to let the pay gap persist; President Donald Trump is taking our foreign policy in a different direction, one where dictators are welcome. We can only hope Trump and his top advisers change course after a suspected nerve gas attack Tuesday in Syria killed at least 50, including children.