December 1, 2016


Political Storie – Top stories

Morally torn over state executions, will Gov. Jerry Brown ever permit one? — Although he has served as governor longer than anyone else in California history, Jerry Brown has never been forced to make one of the weightiest decisions governors face: whether to spare a convicted criminal from execution. CALmatters article

Supreme Court weighs rules for jailing immigrants who are fighting deportation – Facing the likelihood of dramatically stepped-up deportations under a President Donald Trump, the Supreme Court justices sounded closely split Wednesday over whether the government can indefinitely jail immigrants with criminal convictions while they fight legal efforts to remove them from the country. LA Times article

Valley politics

Fresno Mayor-elect Brand turns to familiar face to fill top administration posts — Fresno Mayor-elect Lee Brand is turning to his campaign consultant and a former competitor to fill two key positions in his new administration. Tim Orman, a longtime local Republican political consultant, will be Brand’s chief of staff. He’ll be paid $125,000 a year. Longtime community leader H. Spees, who ran for mayor and finished third in the June primary, will be Brand’s director of strategic initiatives. His salary will be $100,000 a year. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Final Kings election results are in — With the final vote tally in this week, Measure K didn’t make it. The countywide public safety sales tax initiative, which was on the ballot for the second time this year, fell 532 votes short of the two-thirds approval it needed to pass. Hanford Sentinel article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Sen.-elect Kamala Harris picks top deputy in California Attorney General’s office as her chief of staff — California’s newly elected Sen. Kamala Harris has named her top deputy in the state attorney general’s office to be her Senate chief of staff. Harris, who leaves her position as California’s attorney general next month when she is sworn into the U.S. Senate, said Nathan Barankin is her “trusted adviser and right hand.” McClatchy Newspapers article

Tabbing top deputy, Kamala Harris narrows Attorney General sweepstakes — Scratch one name from the “next California Attorney General” sweepstakes. Now that Attorney General Kamala Harris has won a spot in the U.S. Senate, Gov. Jerry Brown will need to decide who serves out the remainder of Harris’s term and functions as California’s top cop until 2018. Speculation about Brown’s potential pick has riveted politics watchers. Brown’s wife, Anne Gust Brown, Executive Secretary Nancy McFadden and a variety of current and former lawmakers and district attorneys have populated the lists conjured by amateur prognosticators at the Capitol. Sacramento Bee article


Trump’s immigration plan could vastly expand California’s private detention – More than 70 percent of immigrants held in U.S. detention centers are in facilities run by private, for-profit companies. Here in California there are 10 detention centers – four of which are privately-run. KPCC report

Which Sacramento communities are home to the most undocumented immigrants? — According to PPIC, the largest number of undocumented immigrants in the region live in south Sacramento city and county, particularly in the 95823 ZIP code that includes the Parkway and Valley Hi neighborhoods. Other communities with relatively high numbers of unauthorized immigrants include Del Paso Heights, Rancho Cordova, and Woodland. Sacramento Bee article

As the U.S. gets harder to reach, more Central Americans look to a Mexican dream — Estimates of how many Central Americans are living in Mexico are hard to come by, in part because some, like Zaldivar, have obtained forged Mexican identity documents. But statistics show more and more are staying legally by seeking political asylum or humanitarian visas. LA Times article

Other areas

California backers of legal marijuana fear possible battle with attorney general pick Jeff Sessions – Backers of laws allowing marijuana use in California are girding for a possible political and legal battle against President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, a staunch foe of pot legalization. LA Times article

Rep. Nancy Pelosi elected by House Democrats for another term as minority leader – House Democrats elected Rep. Nancy Pelosi for another term as minority leader after she fended off a rival who said the November election showed the party needs change at the top.  LA Times articleAP article‘Urban-rural split of presidential race also fuels Democrats’ leadership fight’ in Sacramento Bee

Though Pelosi survives as Democratic leader, even her backers see a need for change — The leadership vote revealed fractures in a House of Representatives Democratic caucus that’s struggled to win seats as it becomes increasingly liberal and coastal, with the last white Democrat from the Deep South defeated in 2014 and the group of “blue dog” conservative/centrists from more rural areas shrinking.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Democrats pick California Rep. Linda Sanchez as first Latina in House leadership – In a 98-96 vote, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Whittier) was elected the next vice chairwoman of the House Democratic Caucus on Wednesday, making her the first Latina to ever serve in House leadership. LA Times article

Joel Fox: A conundrum for California’s Supreme Court — Justices are supposed to put aside any personal conflicts when deciding cases before them. But justices are not robots and dual concerns will be eating at California Supreme Court justices when they decide on arguments dealing with the public pension case they agreed to hear out of Marin County. The justices’ decision could firm up pension protections, which as public servants they also partake, or reduce government obligations to pension liability that would likely make more revenue available to a court system that can use the money.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Wanna get away? Calexit secession plan possible, but faces huge hurdles – Facing Donald Trump’s imminent entrance to the Oval Office, the once outlandish idea of secession doesn’t seem so crazy anymore to some Californians. But the Golden State’s path to independence is blocked with financial and political hurdles, from an expensive state initiative process to persuading two-thirds of Congress to relinquish an economic and tourism powerhouse. Sacramento Bee article

A year after terror attacks, some San Bernardino victims say county has abandoned them — In interviews and at a recent public meeting, employees described struggling to cope with a callous county bureaucracy that provided little comfort as they tried to heal. Instead, they were left scrambling for help and tangling with a county-administered workers’ compensation program that has led to delays and denials of needed medication and treatment, the employees said. LA Times article

As legalization spreads, treat marijuana like cigarettes or alcohol, Obama says — President Barack Obama, who admitted to smoking marijuana in his youth, said the drug should be treated as a “public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol,” in a post-election interview with Rolling Stone magazine.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Presidential Politics

Repeal Obamacare? Not so fast, Republican voters say — President-elect Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans have repeatedly pledged to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. But a new poll suggests Republican voters may be shifting their positions from backing a complete repeal to supporting a scaling back of the law, illustrating the complexity of the task facing Republican lawmakers who have long vowed to dismantle the program. McClatchy Newspapers articleLA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

As Californians become less vigilant about saving water, state eyes stricter standards – As the drought enters its fifth year, California is considering tightening its urban water conservation standards. In a series of proposals released Wednesday, state officials said they might require urban water districts seeking to avoid state conservation mandates to prove they have a five-year water supply on hand. Sacramento Bee article

UC will refuse to assist federal immigrants agents seeking students without legal status – The University of California announced sweeping actions Wednesday to protect its students who came into the country illegally, saying it would refuse to assist federal immigration agents, turn over confidential records without court orders or supply information for any national registry based on race, national origin or religion. LA Times articleSan Jose Mercury News articleSacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Website forecasts Fresno among top 100 housing markets in 2017 — Fresno is in the middle of the pack of a list of the top 100 metros where home sales are expected to flourish in 2017. The data from real estate website forecasts that the Fresno housing market will see a home price appreciation of 3.7 percent and sales boost of 5.8 percent next year, ranking it at No. 43 on the list. The Business Journal article

Sacramento’s housing market will be one of nation’s hottest in 2017, Realtors’ site predicts – Sacramento’s housing market is turning hot – so hot, in fact, that it’s expected to become the fourth hottest market in the country next year., one of the nation’s most prominent online real estate sites, said Wednesday that housing prices in greater Sacramento will jump 7.2 percent in 2017. Sacramento Bee article

California Guard soldiers won’t be forced to repay bonuses – Thousands of California National Guard troops will not have to repay enlistment bonuses and benefits they received a decade after they signed up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a deal between House and Senate negotiators. AP articleSacramento Bee editorial

Hanford proposal faces financing test – The most common question you hear about the new city proposed for southwestern Kings County is this: Where is the water going to come from? But that’s just one obstacle facing Quay Valley, a conceptualized eco-friendly city that would rise from scratch out of the alkali flats along Interstate 5 in far southwestern Kings County. Hanford Sentinel article

Stockton Record: Who says nothing is going on in downtown Stockton? – There will be several events going on in downtown Stockton on Saturday. The Lighted Boat Parade returns after a two-year absence, the city will light its holiday tree and the Stockton Heat has a home game at Stockton Arena. Dare we say: the joint is jumping? Stockton Record editorial

Diamond plant sold; future unclear – Stockton’s Diamond of California, has been sold to another company, but current owners are remaining mum about the plant’s future. Stockton Record article

Future of venerable Bakersfield theater unclear – Stars Theatre Restaurant is preparing to send a sobering letter to patrons asking for donations through the end of the current season in February while disclosing the future of the venerable Bakersfield theater is uncertain beyond that point. Bakersfield Californian article

BHC Merced looking for next chief – Merced’s Building Healthy Communities hub manager is set to leave the nonprofit in the new year after six years. A statement issued Tuesday by Tatiana Vizcaino-Stewart said she intends to spend more time with her husband and daughter. Merced Sun-Star article

Judges drop 66,000 warrants against homeless to void fines they can’t pay anyway – San Francisco’s chief judge says he and his colleagues discarded 66,000 arrest warrants issued over five years for quality-of-life crimes, like sleeping on the sidewalk, because it made no sense to lock people up for fines they couldn’t afford. San Francisco Chronicle article

LA City Council votes to ‘ban the box’ asking job applicants about criminal history – An ordinance to “ban the box” asking about job applicants’ criminal histories on application forms was approved by the Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday. It applies to L.A. businesses with 10 or more employees, as well as city contractors, and it could impact hundreds of thousands of people in L.A., according to Councilman Curren Price. KPCC report

HBO’s ‘Ballers’ plans to relocate filming to California from Florida – “Ballers,” the HBO series starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a former NFL athlete trying to score a touchdown as a financial manager, will be the latest TV series relocating to California to take advantage of the state’s expanded tax incentive program. LA Times article

GoPro lays off 200 in struggle to find its footing — GoPro, the maker of the hot wearable camera that captured the attention of athletes and extreme sports enthusiasts, is the latest Silicon Valley company to stumble after creating a market that wasn’t quite as big as it thought. San Jose Mercury News article


Drought: Wet fall helps, but real test begins now – One hundred and seventy percent of normal: It sounds so impressive. But Stockton’s wet fall — mirrored across much of Northern California — doesn’t necessarily portend a wet winter. The real test begins today, as we kick off the crucial months of December, January and February. Stockton Record article

Icy weather is on the way, and that could be bad – or maybe good – for citrus crops — Citrus growers in the Valley – the heart of the state’s citrus industry – can deploy several frost protection tools, including running irrigation water and wind machines. Fresno Bee article

Kevin Valine: City says proposal to let more river water flow is all wet – Much of the critics’ focus on the State Water Resources Control Board proposal to let more water flow down the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers has been on how it would devastate agriculture and our ag-dependent economy in the Northern San Joaquin Valley. But Modesto Utilities Director Larry Parlin says the proposal is not good news for the residents, businesses, schools, hospitals and others who depend upon the city for drinking water. Valine in Modesto Bee

Waterwise: Water allocation a dreary 20 percent – Local farmers and growers received bad news from California’s Department of Water Resources when the agency made its initial projection of the water allotment public agencies can expect next year: 20 percent of their full allotment. While this is an early projection, local farmers and growers will likely have to make tough choices when it comes to crops they are planning on growing, said Tulare County Assistant Agricultural Commissioner Tom Tucker. Merced Sun-Star article

California drought: Wealthy Hillsborough residents sue, saying water rates are too high — In a case that could have statewide ramifications, a group of multimillionaire Hillsborough residents, including an early funder of Microsoft, has sued the town claiming that its drought rules and penalties intended to keep people from over-watering big lawns are illegal. San Jose Mercury News article

New study calls for more water to flow down Valley rivers into bay – A new study calls for more freshwater to make it from Valley rivers all the way to the San Francisco Bay Delta. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports. KVPR report

Joe Mathews: All of a sudden, California is madly in love with its rivers — We Californians have long celebrated our coastal splendor and beautiful mountains. But our rivers were seen as mere plumbing for our hydration convenience. Now California’s communities, seeking space for environmental restoration and recreation (and some desperately needed housing), are treating rivers and riverfronts as new frontiers, and are busily reconsidering how these bodies of water might better connect people and places. Mathews in Fresno Bee

Turlock area takes key steps to protect groundwater — A new agency is starting to fall into place with the mission of protecting groundwater in the Turlock Irrigation District. The district’s board voted Tuesday to take part in an effort that also would include cities and other public entities that pump wells within TID’s boundaries. Modesto Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Agencies learn to support second chances — Navigating life after incarceration can be a challenge for former inmates who face a series of obstacles when returning to their communities. On Wednesday, about a dozen service providers spent their day learning how to educate themselves in order to empower their clients during the Roadmap to Reentry workshop provided by the Oakland-based nonprofit Root & Rebound. Stockton Record article


California faces a looming teacher shortage, and the problem is getting worse — California faces a statewide teacher shortage because so many are leaving the job and so few are entering the profession, according to a new survey released Wednesday. And most school districts surveyed said the problem is getting worse. LA Times articleBakersfield Californian article

California’s rising high school graduation rates subject of federal audit – The U.S. Department of Education is auditing the accuracy of high school graduation rates in California and Alabama. LA Times article

Dos Palos students charged in hazing case avoid school expulsion – Four Dos Palos High School varsity football players arrested earlier this year in an alleged hazing scandal will not be expelled from school. Superintendent Bill Spalding said a hearing panel of three administrators on Monday did not recommend expulsion. Spalding said he couldn’t go into detail on what the charges were due to student privacy laws. Merced Sun-Star article

How The Sacramento Bee caught a college boss whitewashing her online record – Imagine telling a story so important that it “spreads across the country like wildfire” and has “explosive” reactions. That’s how two reporters from The Sacramento Bee describe an article from earlier this year that led to the resignation of the University of California, Davis’ chancellor. Poynter article

Founder of ‘Furman High’ helped disadvantaged kids get diplomas — Duane Furman accomplished much as the founding superintendent of Madera Unified School District, but he was most proud of “Furman High” – a program developed to get students who had to drop out for various personal reasons back on the road to a high school diploma. He died on Nov. 12 at age 89. Fresno Bee article

California appeals to federal officials to administer one statewide science test, not two – With less than two months before President-elect Donald Trump takes office, California education officials this week have filed an appeal to the U.S Department of Education, seeking to administer one statewide standardized test in science this spring, a pilot test based on new standards known as the Next Generation Science StandardsEdSource article

‘Makerspaces’ for science instruction also proving helpful for English learners – Educators are finding that the new “makerspace” movement – a strategy to teach K-12 students science, math and technology through hands-on activities – is providing the added benefit of helping English learners become more proficient in the language. EdSource article

Chavez students honor graduates — It might not appear like much, but to dozens of Cesar Chavez High School graduates who serve in our nation’s military, these small care packages mean the world. Stockton Record article

Jeff Jardine: The gift of skills is honed in Ceres High’s vocational program — Students in Chris Van Meter’s manufacturing drafting, manufacturing electricity, and manufacturing industries classes use high-tech gadgetry, including 3-D print technology, to make some of the gifts they’ll hand out during the holidays. Same for Darren Holman’s agricultural mechanics and ag welding classes. Jardine column in Modesto Bee

Health/Human Services

Uncertainty for California program extending health coverage to undocumented children – Earlier this year, California granted all undocumented children the chance to have health coverage through the state’s Medicaid program. Now, that opportunity may be hindered by the federal government’s plans to change the program. Capital Public Radio report

Kaweah Delta partners with Valley Children’s – Valley Children’s Medical Group will take over Kaweah Delta Hospital pediatrics, changing the pediatric wing as the community knows it. Visalia Times-Delta article

U.S. will ban smoking in public housing nationwide – Smoking will be prohibited in public housing residences nationwide under a federal rule announced on Wednesday. New York Times article

Hallucinogen eases depression in cancer patients – Two studies used psilocybin, an ingredient found in hallucinogenic mushrooms, to see if it could reduce depression and anxiety in cancer patients. The results were striking.  New York Times article

Dawn Trook: Being HIV-positive isn’t a death sentence; it’s not even a danger – The continuing lecturer in the Merritt Writing Program at UC Merced writes, “I’m one of almost 300,000 women in the United States living with HIV. We are about a quarter of the HIV-positive people in this country. I’ve been living with HIV since 1998, when I was 32. I found out when my then-fiancé, a man I’d known since we were in high school, was diagnosed with AIDS after a series of curious infections. On this World AIDS Day, I wish I could say that I can disclose my HIV status without fear or shame or possible prosecution.” Trook op-ed in Merced Sun-Star

San Bernardino survivors say county health plan is ‘victimizing’ them again — Nearly a year after a terrorist attack, employees of San Bernardino County, Calif., are struggling with delayed or denied claims. New York Times article

Land Use/Housing

How should west Fresno grow? City Council seeks answers to old question — A pair of long-awaited plans – one to guide planning and development in southwest Fresno, the other to serve as a playbook for park construction and maintenance – will take big steps forward if the Fresno City Council approves them on Thursday. Fresno Bee article

Paavo Monkkonen: How California can ease housing crunch – The associate professor of urban planning at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs writes, “Affordable housing is a pressing issue for many California families. Although low incomes and insufficient federal subsidies are somewhat to blame, so is the inadequate level of new housing construction. This partly results from local opposition to new construction, especially when it increases density. State government could address the problem by enhancing and enforcing current laws, increasing participation in the planning process and shifting some planning decisions to regional or state levels.” Monkkonen op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

Fallen Ripon firefighter to get hero’s farewell – Ripon is mourning the line-of-duty death of a veteran firefighter who was well known and respected throughout the community for his work with the Fire Department and the city’s youth. Stockton Record article

He wanted to send puppies across the country. Through the mail.  That’s illegal. – Here’s a holiday travel tale with a twist: Workers at a Fresno post office foiled a man’s effort to box up and mail two puppies to North Carolina. According to a report by Fresno TV station KMPH, the man brought in boxes marked “birds.” Workers checked the boxes and indeed found some feathered freight inside – along with the two pups. The dogs reportedly had no food or water. Fresno Bee article

Officials finish Corcoran ammonia clean up — Safety crews wrapped up work Tuesday to clean up an ammonia spill that prompted the evacuation of more than 100 people Monday from downtown Corcoran. Hanford Sentinel article

California Hall of Fame inducts Harrison Ford, Maria Shriver and George Takei — Sacramento rolled out the red carpet for actors Harrison Ford and George Takei, former California first lady Maria Shriver and other political and cultural icons at the annual California Hall of Fame induction ceremony Wednesday evening.  Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

 Fresno Bee – Sorry, California lawyers, sex with a client should not be OK.

Merced Sun-Star – Trump’s tweets, recounts are just distractions.

Modesto Bee – Trump’s tweets, recounts are just distractions.

Sacramento Bee –- In an all-too-rare case of quick, bipartisan action, Congress is about to protect California National Guard soldiers from having to give back enlistment bonuses; California has an over-the-top delay on a vital freeway project.

Stockton Record – Who says nothing in going on in downtown Stockton?