August 24, 2017







Visalia says no to “In God We Trust” in council chambers


The city of Fresno recently added the phrase to their council chambers. Besides being on their wall, it’s also Porterville’s official motto, as approved by voters in 2008. The non-profit of the same name also lists Dinuba as having the motto in their chambers.  “The four of us felt that this was not the right message to send to our community,” said Visalia Vice-Mayor Bob Link, who voted no. “That there’s a better message to be sent that we’re united…”

TRMC Board president resigns

Visalia Times Delta
It was announced Wednesday afternoon that Linda Wilbourn, Tulare Regional Medical Center board president, would resign immediately. The announcement came hours before Wednesday’s scheduled board meeting began.


Artifact of Confederate figure rests mostly unnoticed at Kern County Museum

The Bakersfield Californian

It’s not exactly a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee, resplendent on horseback, dominating the town square. Or the Garces Circle. But it turns out Bakersfield does have a minor, and mostly unnoticed, tribute to a Confederate hero in its midst.


Black Lives Matter signs vandalized outside church

Fresno Bee
Two Black Lives Matter banners hanging outside the Unitarian Universalist Church in northeast Fresno were vandalized either Tuesday night or early Wednesday, church officials say, but the church has banners ready to replace them.



Republican John Cox takes shot at governor’s race, political corruption

Nearly every topic of discussion with Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox comes back to the corrupting influence of money on California government and politics.  He thinks he can get rid of it.


Walters: California fights feds over states’ rights, but same issue affects local governments


California insists, under the doctrine of “states’ rights,” that President Donald Trump and a Republican Congress should not interfere with state policies on those and other issues that reflect Californians’ views.  Meanwhile, however, the state finds itself facing similar conflicts with its own local governments over attempts to force them to comply with decrees from Sacramento.  A prime example is an effort by Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic legislators to compel cities to build more housing.


SEIU Bill now in the Senate

New York Times

An intense debate is being waged in Sacramento over a proposal that would alter how crucial services are provided to Californians.

Sponsored by the Service Employees International Union, the measure would require that counties adhere to a raft of new conditions before contracting out for services in health care, housing, public safety and other areas.


California water politics + Spending cap-and-trade windfall + Unity in age of Trump

Sacramento Bee

As legislators mull a $4 billion water and parks bond measure, Gerald Meral, initiative promoter, kayaker and former Jerry Brown administration water official, is busily raising money for his latest project, an $8.877 billion water bond, for the November 2018 ballot.


Field of lawmakers seeking to unseat Chad Mayes as Assembly Republican leader gets crowded

Los Angeles Times

The number of candidates vying to unseat Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley as Assembly Republican leader doubled to four on Wednesday.



What’s at Stake in Current Federal Budget Proposals: Fact Sheets by Congressional District

California Budget & Policy Center

As Congress prepares to go back into session early next month and confront a number of key budget decisions, it is important to underscore what is at stake. With this goal in mind, the California Budget & Policy Center has created a set of 53 Fact Sheets — one for every congressional district in the state — that highlights the potential impact of proposed federal spending cuts, in terms of people served or levels of support.


Democrats take shots at one another in their hunt for a winning economic plan

Los Angeles Times

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan is better acquainted than most Democrats with the financially stressed voters who helped carry Donald Trump to the White House. He comes home to them every week.

California Democrats lead attack over Trump’s mental health 


California Democrats are stoking a debate over Donald Trump’s mental health and fitness for office, opening a new front in the resistance to the president but raising fears that the line of criticism could backfire.

See also:



Proponents Of “California Disclose Act” Announce Deal, 7-Years Later 

Capital Public Radio

A California bill that would require more disclosure about donors in campaign ads is nearing passage, after seven years of attempts by proponents.


Borenstein: Half-century after deadly People’s Park riots, it’s time to move on

San Jose Mercury News

It’s been nearly a half-century since rioting over People’s Park left hundreds injured, one student fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy, helicopters spraying tear gas over the Cal campus and Berkeley in a state of emergency with the National Guard enforcing a curfew.



What California should really do with cap-and-trade windfall

Fresno Bee

Rather than squander $1.4 billion on shiny environmentally correct objects, legislators should target the cap-and-trade revenue where it would count most: transportation.


If Trump pardons Arpaio, he’ll reward defiance of the courts, and that’s wrong

Los Angeles Times

President Trump hinted Tuesday night that he planned to pardon former Arizona Sheriff Joseph Arpaio for his federal contempt of court conviction, telling a crowd in Phoenix: “I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine. But I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any…




Growers green light funding to fight citrus greening

The Foothills Sun-Gazette

California citrus growers recently affirmed the extension of a cooperative effort to fund research and educate the public about the most serious threat to the state’s citrus crops.


Brown’s Tunnels Could Start in 2018, and Delta Farmers Say They’ll Be Devastated

East Bay Express

The governor’s $17 billion project recently got a big boost from the feds and two state approvals. But it also threatens a 150-year-old farming region.


California Farm Use Of Oilfield Wastewater Prompts Food-Safety Inquiry

CBS San Francisco

Some popular California-grown fruits and nuts are irrigated with wastewater from oilfields. No one has been checking if the practice is actually safe — until now.





Walters: State got softer on crime, will voters regret it?

Modesto Bee

In the main, issues that dominate any session of the California Legislature reflect what the public and news media consider at the time to be the most burning.


Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer appearances on ADT commercial

The Fresno Bee

An ADT commercial about home security and alarm system service is making its rounds around the country and it features quite the familiar face to Fresno folks.  Fresno Police Department Chief Jerry Dyer is prominently featured in one of the latest ADT commercials, dressed in his formal black uniform, which includes the yellow and blue Fresno Police patches embroidered on the upper arms.


Clovis K9 Unit fundraiser Friday

The Clovis Police Department is re-building its K9 unit and community groups are helping out.


Transgender prison guard says colleagues call her a freak. Now she’s suing the state of California

Sacramento Bee

It didn’t take long for Meghan Frederick to feel the harassment she feared would come when she told her fellow correctional officers at a Sacramento prison that she identified as a transgender woman.


How California gun owners are legally keeping their AR-15 rifles

Fox News

It seems California lawmakers’ efforts to force rifle owners to register their personal details, or resort to cumbersome reloading or giving up their arms altogether, may have missed the mark.


Judge allows money laundering charges against Backpage execs

Washington Post

California prosecutors can bring money laundering charges against the creators of a website that prosecutors label an online brothel, a judge ruled Wednesday. But he dismissed other charges months after another judge threw out the entire case as violating free speech and federal protections.


Felons in California prisons would be able to vote under proposed ballot initiative

Los Angeles Times

Felons in state prison would be allowed to vote in California elections under a ballot measure proposed Wednesday by a group representing prisoners, their families and supporters.


California Supreme Court ruling could fast-track executions


California could take a giant step closer to resuming executions when the state Supreme Court issues a highly anticipated ruling on a ballot measure to speed up the state’s dysfunctional death penalty system.


Does it cost $75K per year to lock up an inmate in California?

PolitiFact California

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris believes taxpayers aren’t “getting a good return on investment” when it comes to California’s prison system.

The California Democrat told the Women Unshackled forum in Washington D.C. in July that alternatives to locking up inmates, such as drug treatment programs, are far cheaper and sometimes more effective than prison sentences. Her figures for California’s per inmate costs were eye-opening.


California Sheriffs Use Bare-Knuckle Tactics Against “Sanctuary State” Proposal

The Intercept

President Donald Trump’s assault on so-called sanctuary cities — municipalities that, to varying degrees, refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities — has included threats to cut off federal funding streams. Among these grant programs are several that give financial support to local law enforcement agencies. While it’s not clear what effect cutting these programs would have on public safety, they have become a flashpoint in the debate over local and, in the case of California, statewide efforts to create sanctuaries for immigrants who are in the country without legal authorization



Evacuations lifted as smoky skies remain in Yosemite from South Fork Fire

Fresno Bee

The South Fork Fire near Wawona in Yosemite National Park grew slightly overnight to 4,012 acres Wednesday morning, as evacuations were lifted on the west side of Chilnualna Creek.  The fire is now 22% contained, after it was 17% contained Tuesday. Officials said line construction around the fire, which started Aug. 13 about a mile east of Wawona, has been making significant progress. Further strengthening of those lines has been completed, and natural barriers such as the Merced River are being used to further secure Wawona and other areas from the flames.






Businesses could be responsible for violations of outsourced work

Central Valley Business Journal

A new ruling by the California Division of Labor Standards has given expanded reach to a 2015 amendment to the Labor Code. This expansion now has serious implications for the construction industry. Before getting into the details of the ruling issued by the Labor Commissioner, let’s take a brief look back at Assembly Bill 1897 for some context.


CA legislation would curb forced arbitration

Sacramento Bee
Hidden in the fine print of nearly every contract we sign these days, forced arbitration eliminates our constitutional right to a civil jury trial, torpedoes class action lawsuits that expose small-dollar rip-off schemes with thousands of victims, and gives god-like power to a private arbitrator typically hired by and beholden to a defendant corporation.


Commentary: Don’t Leave Rural California Behind


The economic renaissance in California over the last decade has been robust, but not evenly widespread. Bob Williams, a Tehama County supervisor and chair of the Rural County Representatives of California (RCRC), write that while the Golden State leads the nation in a number of industries, the rural-urban divide is greater than ever.


Paul Ryan Answered Nun’s Question — Catholic Social Teaching & Government Programs

National Review

During his CNN town hall in Wisconsin Monday night, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was confronted by a Dominican nun who asked about his approach to health care and poverty, especially in light of his Catholic faith.



Pot jobs | Three California agencies hiring

Fresno Bee

As California prepares for the beginning of recreational cannabis sales in January, three state agencies are ramping up their hiring efforts as they prepare for the new and daunting task of regulating the new industry.


Amazon plans for new central Valley facilities in Stockton, Fresno, Sacramento and Tracy

Fresno Bee

It’s beginning to feel that way in the Central Valley, at least. The online shopping giant is blanketing the area with distribution facilities and fulfillment centers – and the promise of thousands of jobs, faster shipping times and better customer service.  This week, Stockton announced that the Amazon will build a 600,000 square-foot facility in the city. It will be the sixth such facility in the 170 or so miles between Fresno and Sacramento.





Fresno Unified approves comprehensive sex education

Fresno Bee

The Fresno Unified school board approved sexual education curriculum at a meeting Wednesday after years of the district going without teaching the subject to students.  The California Healthy Youth Act, signed into law earlier this month, requires all school districts in the state to provide “comprehensive, accurate and unbiased” sex education at least twice between grades seven and 12 starting Jan. 1. Currently, sex education is not mandatory.


Large group of speakers come to the defense of Fresno Unified School Board President


Even before setting foot inside Fresno Unified headquarters, signs set the tone for Wednesday night’s debate.  The comments were in sharp contrast to two weeks ago when the LGBT community criticized Ashjian for his sex Ed comments, insinuating that teaching LGBT in schools could sway a kid to adopt that lifestyle.


Tulare County among nation’s least educated areas

Foothills Sun-Gazette
Tulare County is one of the least educated places in the nation, according to a recent study comparing it to metropolitan areas of a similar size.


California schools are supposed to promote voter registration. Why isn’t that happening?

Sacramento Bee

The health of our democracy depends on widespread participation. We all need an understanding of how our public institutions function and how to make our voices heard.


Lawmakers try to ease California’s teacher shortage


California’s students may be headed back to school, but in some places, there aren’t enough teachers there to greet them due to a statewide teacher shortage.


National group sharply criticizes state’s plan for Every Student Succeeds Act


A national education nonprofit that is evaluating states’ plans for complying with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act praised California’s vision for a high-quality education for all students but mostly panned how it proposes to implement its goals in a report it issued Tuesday.

Higher Ed:


Fresno State modernizes to the tune of $26 million

Visalia Times-Delta

At the fall 2017 faculty and staff assembly on Thursday, Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro announced the 62-year-old campus would continue to undergo construction and modernization. The announcement came days before the university welcomed back nearly 25,000 students for the 2017-18 academic year.


California lawmakers say CSU budget problems concerning

The Bakersfield Californian

California lawmakers expressed concern Wednesday that California State University campuses cannot fully justify spending on management staff after recent audits have found systemic budgeting problems at state schools.


UC Berkeley: Bannon, Coulter, Yiannopoulos to speak

East Bay Times

A University of California Berkeley spokesman said the university has been working with a student organization that plans to bring conservative authors and provocateurs Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter, as well as recently resigned White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, to campus next month.


UC faculty mentors will help the growing ranks of first-generation students 


The growing number of University of California students who are in the first generation of their families to attend a university will be able this fall to easily find role models and mentors close at hand: UC faculty who have the same background.


Colleges see growing need for mental health services


At the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, a few dozen incoming freshmen gathered recently for a tour of the Counseling and Psychological Services center. There’s a large waiting area and 50 counseling rooms housed in a brick office building near campus.

With DACA’s uncertain future, how will states address access to higher education?

Brookings Institution

In June, the attorneys general of Texas and nine other states (along with one governor) signed a letter asking President Trump to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was established by an executive order President Obama signed in 2012.  DACA provides legal protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. without documentation as children (often referred to as “Dreamers”). Applicants must meet specific requirements to be eligible for the program. Although the program does not provide permanent lawful status to applicants, it provides a temporary relief from deportation, along with a social security number and work permit for a two-year period. After this period, DACA applicants can renew their status.





CA cap-and-trade makes billions available for green projects

Sacramento Bee

After several quarters of anemic auction results, businesses bought $935 million in credits to emit polluting greenhouse gases.  That will provide a healthy chunk of change for California’s greenhouse gas reduction fund: about $640 million to finance the high-speed rail and other projects intended to curtail the state’s carbon footprint. With a large balance

already sitting in the account, a legislative analysis estimates that there will be more than $1.4 billion available to spend in the 2017-18 budget year.

See also:

Academic study concludes Exxon Mobil misled on climate change

PBS NewsHour

Exxon Mobil has been criticized for allegedly hiding what it knew about the perils of climate change. Now researchers from Harvard University have published a study alleging that the oil and gas giant tried to systematically mislead the public about climate change for 40 years. William Brangham learns more from science correspondent Miles O’Brien.


State’s Progress on 1.5 Million Zero Emission Vehicles by 2025

Center for Jobs and the Economy

As part of the AB 32 climate change program, Executive Order B-16-2012 administratively created a goal of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on California roads by 2025, with a sub-goal that their market share is expanding at that point.  Using the current agency interpretations of the Executive Order, total PEV sales since 2011 account for 20.9 percent of the 2025 goal. True ZEV sales (BEVs), however, account for only 10.6 percent


Smell smoke? Out-of-control ag burn mainly to blame

Sacramento Bee

A permitted agricultural burn that got out of control is the main reason smoke that is lingering in the Sacramento region, said Jenny Tan, spokeswoman for the Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District.


Jerry Brown to take ‘swift legal action’ if Trump allows drilling at national monuments

Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown is ready to sue the federal government if the Trump administration decides to allow drilling, mining or timber harvesting at national monuments in the Golden State.

See also:



The Latest: Senate panel narrowly backs utility regulators

Bakersfield Californian

The Latest on confirmation hearings for two appointees to a powerful California commission that regulates utilities (all times local): 5:30 p.m. A Senate panel has given narrow approval to Gov. Jerry Brown’s two newest appointees to a powerful commission regulating California’s natural gas, water, electric and transportation utilities.




When It Comes To Doctor Access, The San Joaquin Valley Is Being Left Behind |

Valley Public Radio

For decades the San Joaquin Valley hasn’t had enough doctors, but the problem doesn’t seem to be getting better. This week FM89’s Kerry Klein launches a new reporting project focused on the problem and some potential solutions. In our first installment we hear stories from patients who say they are being left behind.

UCSF Fresno to share latest trends in health and medicine

The Business Journal

The Academic Senate at UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program will be presenting a series of health-related lectures for the community.  The public is invited to hear and ask questions of leading experts in medicine and health sciences at their sixth annual “Mini-Med School,” a series of six lectures for the general public on health issues related to the whole family.


Why trade child’s brain cells for touchdowns or trophies?

Fresno Bee

Thirteen-year-old Anna slips from the uneven bars, slamming the mat headfirst. Dizzy and nauseous, she does not tell her coach for fear he will pull her from practice or worse, the upcoming competition. She resumes practice shortly after, unaware she suffered a concussion. She falls again. This time the impact causes permanent brain damage.


Another 400 employees at Emanuel join a union. What will it mean for patients?

Modesto Bee

Emanuel Medical Center employees from nursing assistants to respiratory therapists voted for union membership, two weeks after registered nurses at the Turlock hospital were unionized.


Community Voices: A sham that would hurt vulnerable and taxpayer alike

If a bill recently passed in the State Assembly and destined for a vote in the Senate becomes law, millions of Californians will lose the programs and services they desperately need and the care of medical, social and behavioral health professionals they’ve come to trust.




Jerry Brown should sign California sanctuary bill

The Sacramento Bee

Gov. Jerry Brown has publicly committed to protecting Californians from the Trump agenda… Now it is time for our governor to prove his words were not just platitudes and to endorse and promise to sign real laws that can make a real difference. Instead, he is hemming and hawing, raising concerns that have little do with reality and, disturbingly, sound Trumpian.


Immigrant rights advocates urge Gov. Jerry Brown not to change ‘sanctuary state’ legislation

Los Angeles Times

Immigrant rights advocates on Wednesday urged Gov. Jerry Brown not to change state legislation that would expand laws to keep local and state law enforcement agencies from arresting, questioning and holding immigrants for federal agents.


California Sheriffs Use Bare-Knuckle Tactics Against “Sanctuary State” Proposal

The Intercept

President Donald Trump’s assault on so-called sanctuary cities — municipalities that, to varying degrees, refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities — has included threats to cut off federal funding streams. Among these grant programs are several that give financial support to local law enforcement agencies. While it’s not clear what effect cutting these programs would have on public safety, they have become a flashpoint in the debate over local and, in the case of California, statewide efforts to create sanctuaries for immigrants who are in the country without legal authorization.


Nonprofit to spend millions to help immigrants obtain legal counsel

Las Vegas Review-Journal

Tom Steyer, president of NextGen America, announced the donation Wednesday at a Las Vegas news conference. The amount of the donation is not yet determined but is expected to be in the seven-figure range. The money will go toward recruiting accredited lawyers to represent immigrants dealing with U.S. immigration authorities and creating an online tool for community advocates to interact with each other.

Don’t Demonize Immigrants, My Fellow Conservatives


Portraying immigrants this way is shameful, and is a sad reflection of the ugly nationalism and xenophobia that apparently reaches further into the mainstream of the political right than we conservatives would have thought possible just a few years ago.



More Affordable Housing Units to be Built in Fresno & Entire Valley

More affordable housing units may be built in Fresno and across California because both local and state governments plan on making it easier for developers to build.


Skelton: Why the Legislature probably can’t fix California’s affordable housing problem

Los Angeles Times

State lawmakers can pass all kinds of bills aimed at building more affordable housing. But they can’t repeal the fundamental law of supply and demand for desirable land.


White communities in the Bay Area have lower low-income housing goals, study finds

Los Angeles Times

California communities with large white populations aren’t planning for their fair share of low- and moderate-income housing growth, according to a new study of Bay Area cities.


Nathan McGuire: Fees on real estate documents will hurt those they intend to help

Modesto Bee

The state Assembly is currently debating Senate Bill 2, which claims to support affordable housing in California by tacking a $75 fee onto many real estate transaction documents. A growing coalition is opposed to this bill as its impacts are far and wide, with many questioning its ability to support needed affordable housing programs. But what hasn’t been expressed often enough is the significant impact this bill will have on the individuals and families it claims to support.


Y Combinator chief Sam Altman targets high home prices with foreign buyer tax idea

San Francisco Business Times

Altman, who’s recruiting candidates to run for public office, floated the idea on Monday as way to reduce the high cost of housing in California.



What’s at Stake in Current Federal Budget Proposals: Fact Sheets by Congressional District

California Budget & Policy Center

A number of current proposals at the federal level, put forth by the Trump Administration and congressional leaders, call for deep spending cuts to many important public services and systems that improve the lives of individuals and families across California.

Lawmakers want CSU’s generous employee benefits tamed 

San Francisco Chronicle

A generous policy at California State University that reimburses employees tens of thousands of dollars in moving expenses needs to be reined in along with a surge in management hiring at the expense of new professors, lawmakers said during a Wednesday hearing to review a critical audit of the public university system.


How you can make streets feel cooler


It’s not news that cities get hot in the summer, but the impact of that heat is expected to increase with climate change. Los Angeles is testing a new concept: reflective pavement to keep things cooler.


Bike riding isn’t child’s play anymore, and cycling crash deaths are soaring 

Washington Post

Ronald Michael Peter Hill, 30, died at the scene when he was struck by a car in Tulsa, around 9 p.m. on Aug. 11. Several hours later, Albert Arnold, 57, died at an intersection in south Los Angeles. The death of Joseph Lee Stanley, 42, on a Sacramento street came just after midnight Sunday morning, about 20 hours after Arnold died. In all three cases, the driver involved kept going, which is not uncommon in collisions between cars and bicyclists.



Proponents of dam on San Joaquin River seek state funding

The Fresno Bee

The proposed Temperance Flat dam on the upper San Joaquin River east of Fresno likely will be at the head of the line when the state awards big money for water storage projects.

See also:

Water War’s New Front: Where to Add Major Storage Projects


After a 35-year stalemate stalled new California water storage projects, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders agreed in 2014 to include $2.7 billion for such needs as part of Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion water bond approved in a landslide by voters later that year. The then-raging drought persuaded Democrats to go along with major water storage creation plans after blocking new projects since California completed its last dam in 1979.


First-ever water tax proposed to tackle unsafe drinking water in California

East Bay Times

Senate Bill 623, backed by a strange-bedfellows coalition of the agricultural lobby and environmental groups but opposed by water districts, would generate $2 billion over the next 15 years to clean up contaminated groundwater and improve faulty water systems and wells. The problem is most pervasive in rural areas with agricultural runoff.

In Bakersfield, Complex Web Of Water Systems Makes Pollution Cleanup Difficult

Valley Public Radio

Cleaning up water pollution is difficult but in Bakersfield it’s even more complicated due to an accident of history: residents there are served by over two dozen different community water systems. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports on the problem in the latest edition in our series Contaminated



National Parks Senior Pass price jumps from $10 to $80, increase takes effect Aug. 28

Sierra Star

In order to meet requirements set by legislation passed by Congress in December 2016, the price of the America the Beautiful – National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass will increase from $10 to $80. The change will take effect Aug. 28


Valley cultural calendar

Great things are happening in the Valley. Here’s a list of VCC member offerings to keep you busy and entertained.


Merced County Arts Council

What’s going on in the art scene in Merced?


Lindsay councilwoman Laura Cortes introduces Community Recognition Committee

Foothills Sun-Gazette
Most good things in small cities are thought of, organized and carried out by volunteers. And those volunteers mostly go unrecognized. But one Lindsay councilwoman is hoping to change that. At a Lindsay City Council meeting last month Laura Cortes introduced the idea of a Community Recognition Committee.

STEFANI DIAS: ‘Men’ pursuing dreams at Empty Space

Bakersfield Californian

For a show about the pursuing the American Dream, it seems fitting that its directors are equally passionate about the material. Of course, the outcome for the production of “Of Mice and Men,” opening Friday at The Empty Space, is likely to be much more uplifting than the fates of the show’s protagonists.


Full lakes, plenty of camp space in Northern California for Labor Day

San Francisco Chronicle

Now’s the time to plan your Labor Day getaway. Region by region, rangers with state parks, national parks, Forest Service districts, the Department of Water Resources and other water agencies contributed to this report