December 13, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Walters: Donald Trump forces a California water deal without lifting a finger — A compromise bill that, in effect, reallocates federally controlled water in California – much to the delight of farmers and the dismay of environmentalists – won final congressional approval Friday. Hammered out by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Bakersfield’s Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader of the House, it broke a half-decade-long political logjam over the issue, and there is little doubt that uncertainty over Trump’s attitude was its driving force. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Former Modesto legislator Kristin Olsen nabs GOP leadership post — The California Republican Party has picked Kristin Olsen, a former assemblywoman from Modesto, to be its vice chair. It’s the second new gig this year for Olsen, who was termed out of her Assembly seat this year and was recently elected to the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors. Olsen’s six years in the Assembly included a 13-month stint as leader of the chamber’s Republican caucus. LA Times article

Valley politics

John Ellis leaving The Fresno Bee for post with Mayor-elect Brand — John Ellis, The Bee’s political reporter, is taking a new job with Fresno Mayor-elect Lee Brand’s administration. Ellis will leave The Bee in mid-January to become governmental affairs manager for the new Fresno mayor. Fresno Bee article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Granddaughter of labor icon picked as Kamala Harris’ state director — U.S. Sen.-elect Kamala Harris has chosen Julie Chavez Rodriguez to serve as her state director overseeing operations across California. Rodriguez, who is the granddaughter of labor icon Cesar Chavez, worked in the Obama administration as principal deputy director of public engagement, senior policy advisor and special assistant to President Barack Obama. Sacramento Bee article

Fewer women in new California Legislature, but more win local office — Last month’s election saw the number of women serving in the California Legislature fall, down to less than a quarter. At the same time women gained ground in city and county offices around the state. Capital Public Radio report

Jim Araby: Why it’s too early to say moderates won big in 2016 legislative races – The executive director of United Food and Commercial Workers, Western States Council, writes, “It’s far too early to jump to the conclusion that “moderates” were the ultimate victors in the 2016 legislative races, or to tell how closely they will align with corporate interest groups who influenced their campaigns.” Araby op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Other areas

California’s child vaccination law faces another legal challenge — Opponents of a new California state law requiring nearly all schoolchildren to be fully vaccinated have mounted another legal challenge — this time, setting the science of immunization aside and focusing on constitutional rights. East Bay Times article

Kevin Johnson’s eight years as mayor marked by controversy, success — Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is in his final hours on the job. His eight years in office have been anything but ordinary. Johnson’s resume included nearly two decades as president of the St. HOPE charter school and 12 years as a National Basketball Association player. Capital Public Radio report

Presidential Politics

California vs. Trump bout shaping up — Any hope that California would soon settle into some sort of accommodation with a Trump Administration is fading rapidly. Capitol Weekly article

Trump knocks F-35 program ahead of Lemoore relocation — While the Navy’s F-35 strike fighter is just a month away from landing at Naval Air Station Lemoore, Donald Trump on Monday knocked the Pentagon’s program, calling it “out of control.” USA Today article

Cathleen Decker: Trump digs in on Russia, setting up conflict with his own party’s Washington leaders – Donald Trump dug in deeply Monday against growing concerns over Russian efforts to influence the presidential election, setting up a conflict with his own party’s leaders even before he is inaugurated. Decker in LA Times

Sacramento protestors call on Electoral College to reject Trump – Protesters at the California Capitol called on members of the Electoral College to honor the popular vote and reject Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States on Monday. Sacramento Bee article

Tom Fife: Trump won, fair and square; get used to it, liberals — Donald Trump is about America and about America’s winning again. Winning is a difficult concept for handwringing liberals like Joe to understand. This is because they always equate their ability to manipulate and steal with winning. But manipulating and stealing is not winning, manipulating and stealing is just manipulating and stealing. Americans want to win but we like to win “fair and square.” Donald Trump won fair and square. We like that. Fife column in Visalia Times-Delta

Joe Altschule: Billionaires, military in charge; Russia lurking – Happy? — Donald Trump made promise after promise during the campaign. But has he followed through during this transition period? Altschule column in Visalia Times-Delta

News Stories –Top Stories

Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson announces he will step down — Michael Hanson announced Monday he is stepping down as Fresno Unified superintendent, leaving a school district he helped save from bankruptcy upon his arrival a decade ago, but one that now is embroiled in a federal investigation. Fresno Bee articleEdSource article

Long-sought flood control projects eased passage of California water bill — Flood control concerns in the Sacramento area and Merced County helped drive a big water bill that won overwhelming congressional approval despite heated conflict over other California provisions. McClatchy Newspapers article

Jobs and the Economy

Richard Gearhart: The CSU effect: Institute gives graduates working advantage, reasons to stay in Kern County – The assistant professor of economics at CSU Bakersfield and managing editor of the Kern Business Journal writes, “These increases in income paid to CSU Bakersfield graduates who remain in the area is substantial. Each year, the total wage bill paid to all workers in the Bakersfield MSA is nearly $14 billion. For the graduates of CSU Bakersfield who remain in Kern County, their addition to the wage bill is over $75 million, highlighting that each year, CSU Bakersfield graduates are adding sizable incomes to the area that manifest themselves in consumer purchases.” Gearhart op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

With Fed expected to hike, attention turns to what it says – There isn’t much doubt about what the Federal Reserve will do when its latest policy meeting ends Wednesday: It’s all but certain to raise its benchmark interest rate — its first increase in a year. The real anticipation surrounds what Fed officials may or may not say about the pace of future rate hikes against the backdrop of Donald Trump’s election. AP article

October home sales – October home sales data for the central San Joaquin Valley. Fresno Bee article

Modesto poised to sign deal to keep Nuts baseball team in city – The city is poised to enter a new agreement with the Modesto Nuts to keep the minor league baseball team playing here for another decade. Modesto Bee article

51 employees to lose jobs in Varco-Pruden engineering office closure in Turlock – BlueScope Buildings, a global company that makes pre-engineered steel buildings, has informed state and county officials that it will close its Varco-Pruden engineering office in Turlock, eliminating 51 jobs. Modesto Bee article

With land leveled, what’s going on at that busy downtown Clovis corner? – Clovis City Council approved land deals and agreements Monday night to pave the way for the Landmark Commons project that includes a new Fresno County Public Library, senior center and transit hub. Fresno Bee article

Sacramento ethanol maker expands Midwest footprint — Pacific Ethanol Inc. announced it’s expanding its Midwest operations Monday by acquiring a Nebraska grain elevator, a move that would increase its access to the raw material for its ethanol while strengthening ties with the agricultural community. Sacramento Bee article

Kern Business Journal Executive Profile: Richard Chapman – The Kern Business Journal profiles Richard Chapman, president/CEO of the Kern Economic Development Corporation.  Kern Business Journal article in Bakersfield Californian

Fox Theatre evaluates damage that canceled concert – The owners of the Hanford Fox Theatre are deciding their next steps after a plaster panel fell onto the stage Saturdaybefore the Brothers Osborne were set to perform. Hanford Sentinel article

Flooding at the Fox – The show will go on after more than 15,000 gallons of water and mud flooded the tunnels beneath the Visalia Fox Theatre this week. Visalia Times-Delta article

Local governments can’t collect taxes from online travel firms – In a loss for local governments, the California Supreme Court decided Monday that online travel companies such as Expedia Inc. are exempt from paying hotel occupancy taxes. LA Times article

Oakland, county weigh $1.3 billion Raiders stadium financing deal – City and county officials are expected to vote Tuesday on a deal for a new $1.3 billion stadium that supporters hope will keep the Oakland Raiders in town. AP articleEast Bay Times article

Council members seek to kindle stadium talks with $1 lease offer to Chargers – Four San Diego City Council members are preparing to offer Chargers owner Dean Spanos a lease of $1 a year for 99 years for the Qualcomm Stadium site as a starting point for negotiations for a new stadium. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Advanced Micro Resource focuses on forensics, training — Successful entrepreneurs must be creative, competent and hard working to succeed. They also must be quick and nimble — able to recognize new opportunities and adjust their business plans and systems to capitalize on emerging markets. Alphonso Rivera demonstrated these qualities as he guided Bakersfield-based Advanced Micro Resource through the exciting, challenging and ever-changing technology industry. Bakersfield Californian article

Kings’ hotel won’t open in time for March Madness.  Here’s the latest — The Sacramento Kings wanted to open their new boutique hotel in time for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, aka March Madness. It won’t happen. The Kings said Monday that the 16-story hotel and condo tower, known as The Sawyer, won’t open until next summer. Sacramento Bee article

Foon Rhee: Why managers aren’t smiling this holiday season — A federal judge blocked overtime pay for 4.2 million managers and other workers on salary, including 146,000 in California. Under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican Congress, expanding overtime pay is dead on arrival. Rhee in Sacramento Bee


What does the new federal water bill mean for California? For one, a big win for farmers – With more storms heading toward Northern California this week, the bill could affect operations in the Delta right away if signed by President Barack Obama. The bill is designed to route more of the Sacramento River’s flows to the giant government-run pumping stations near Tracy, which deliver water to California’s dry interior and southern expanse via the State Water Project and Central Valley Project. That would mean less water in the rivers for fish and wildlife, and less flowing to the San Francisco Bay and out to the ocean. Sacramento Bee article

California drought: Project to retrofit one of Bay Area’s largest dams doubles in cost, faces long delays — Reflecting problems at other aging reservoirs, a $200 million project to drain and repair one of the Bay Area’s largest dams to reduce the risk of it collapsing in a major earthquake will double in cost and be delayed by at least two more years. San Jose Mercury News article

California drought: Six years in, how will the state keep saving water? — California is working to put into place a framework that will help the state deal with its current water shortage, as well as future droughts that are likely to be more severe with a changing climate. “Making Water Conservation a Way of Life,” a draft report released last week, is the collective effort of five state agencies to fulfill Gov. Jerry Brown’s Executive Order B-37-16, signed in May 2016. KQED report

Ben Chou and Tracy Quinn: How California’s water conservation strategy is falling short – The Natural Resources Defense Council leaders write, “There is still time for state agencies to revise their recommendations before the final report. If they lay out a plan for meaningful standards and enforcement tools, this is an opportunity for Gov. Brown to leave a lasting legacy of helping California secure its water future and truly make conservation a way of life.” Chou/Quinn op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Joel Fox: Toast the water bill with whiskey — Fights over water are the norm but the successful water bill that passed Congress last week with a rider provision for California may upset the old standard that water is for fighting and whiskey is for drinking.  Fox in Fox & Hounds

Criminal Justice/Prisons

73-year-old man with dementia fatally shot by Bakersfield police –  An unarmed 73-year-old man whose family said was in the initial stages of dementia was shot and killed early Monday by a Bakersfield police officer, authorities said. LA Times article

Third defendant in Keith Foster drug case sentenced; his court date still to come — Another defendant in the alleged drug ring case involving Fresno’s former deputy police chief Keith Foster was sentenced Monday to probation. Jennifer Donabedian will also have to perform 100 hours of community service. Fresno Bee article


Michael E. Hanson: Memo from the superintendent: Fresno Unified ends year on honor roll – Fresno Unified’s superintendent writes, “As the Fresno Unified School District welcomes two new trustees, it is a good time to reflect on our progress and look forward to what’s ahead. When I accepted the appointment as superintendent, the students who are now the Class of 2017 were first-graders. Having watched students from the vantage points of a parent and superintendent, I can confidently say that Fresno Unified is a better place for our youths today than it was more than 11 years ago.” Hanson op-ed in Fresno Bee

Teens, Valley leaders voice hopes for a brighter tomorrow – As earthmovers dig into a transformation of UC Merced, faculty and students are initiating a more subtle change of landscape, urging high school students to step forward and help shape the Valley’s future. Modesto Bee article

‘It pays to dream’: A place at Delta for young black men – There are disproportionately few black men enrolled at Delta. About one-third of those who do enroll will not finish. Of the 1,861 certificates and degrees awarded last year to Delta students, 41 of them went to black men. So it was that Lincoln High teacher Bruce Roberson met this fall with Delta counselor Roy Desmangles, who coordinates Delta’s AFFIRM support program for blacks, to discuss what can be done. Stockton Record article

Global company partners with UC Merced for almond research – Yara North America, a global company known for its fertilizers, is giving UC Merced $60,000 to fund a graduate fellowship and two undergraduate scholarships for research in the almond industry. Merced Sun-Star article

Gomes passes torch to Tietjan as Merced County’s top educator – Steve Tietjen officially took his post on Monday as the top Merced County educator. Tietjen, 60, was sworn in as Merced County Superintendent of Schools during the Merced County Board of Trustees regular meeting. Merced Sun-Star article

Accreditor of for-profit colleges loses appeal to stay alive – Federal education officials are standing by their decision to cut ties with the nation’s largest accreditor of for-profit colleges — a ruling that will bar hundreds of schools from providing federal financial aid and likely force some to close. AP article

Trump choice for secretary of education calls for ‘local control’ of schools – Using terminology entrenched in California’s school reform vernacular, Betsy DeVos called for “local control” of schools  in her most extensive public comments since President-elect Donald Trump selected her to be his secretary of education three weeks ago. EdSource article

Proud of what he leaves behind: Outgoing Stockton Unified police chief brought stability, accessibility — On the third floor of the Stockton Unified School District Police Department headquarters, Chief Bryon Gustafson slowly begins to remove papers and other items from his desk and put them into boxes. Friday is his last day on the job. After a two-week holiday vacation, he will be sworn in to his position as chief sergeant-at-arms for the state Assembly in Sacramento. Stockton Record article

Feds resolved nearly 100 civil rights complaints in California schools in 2016 — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said it resolved nearly 100 allegations of civil rights violations – most of them alleging gender-based or disability-based discrimination – in California schools and colleges in fiscal 2016, as some conservatives signaled that aggressive civil rights enforcement under the Obama administration would be curtailed under President-elect Donald Trump. EdSource article

Stanford band to university: We don’t want to be ‘sanitized’ — Stanford’s celebrated if cocky marching band is mad as hell and they’re not gonna take it anymore. On Monday, three days after the antics-loving Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band learned that university officials had suspended the troupe’s activities through next spring because members violated the school’s alcohol policy, the band — or the Band, as it calls itself — fired back. San Jose Mercury News article

UC Berkeley overcrowding: Students studying in San Francisco, living at Mills College — Every morning, they wake up to catch the AC Transit bus to San Francisco, then return home well into the evening, after a 90-minute, rush-hour commute that can be standing-room-only. But these aren’t your typical commuters battling urban gridlock. They are first-semester freshmen at UC Berkeley, 18- and 19-year-olds who — instead of stumbling a few steps from their dorms to class — are commuting sometimes two and a half hours daily to and from class in an office building in San Francisco. East Bay Times article

Health/Human Services

52 million U.S. adults have a medical condition that was uninsurable before Obamacare, new study finds – Some 52 million working-age adults have a pre-existing medical condition that would likely have left them unable to get health coverage before the Affordable Care Act, according to a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. McClatchy Newspapers article

E-cigarette use falls among teens for the first time, study finds – For the first time, researchers are seeing signs that American teens may be turning away from electronic cigarettes. LA Times article

Marked racial disparities in money spent to help disabled – Four years after California legislators vowed to eliminate racially and ethnically-linked disparities in spending on services to the developmentally disabled, funding gaps persist, records show. California Health Report article

Awaiting Trump, community clinics plan for uncertain future – A lot of people who have benefited from the Medi-Cal expansion are worried about losing their coverage, and the community clinics that serve many of them are concerned that they’ll have to cut back on some of their services. KQED report

Carmen George: Red wagons provide happier way to transport patients around Valley Children’s — Six-year-old Jaskaran Singh gleefully pulled a red Radio Flyer wagon transporting some precious cargo – his little brother – around a floor at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera County last week. These wagon rides are 4-year-old Arshveer Singh’s preferred method of transport around the hospital, far superior to being pushed around in a wheelchair or medical transport bed. It’s part of brother-bonding time. George in Fresno Bee

Rural U.S. hit hard by rise in drug-dependent infants — Many more pregnant women are abusing opioids, according to a new report, which said that the increase in newborns experiencing withdrawal has been disproportionately larger in rural counties. New York Times article

Land Use/Housing

New affordable housing projects in line for $2.6 million boost — Completing a four-month competitive process, the city is expected tonight to award $2.687 million in federal funds to the developers of three projects that propose to create sorely needed additional affordable housing in Stockton. Stockton Record article


New lights on Blackstone and Fedora target jaywalking in central Fresno — A $400,000 traffic signal system paid for by a federal grant is going up at Blackstone and Fedora avenues, the central Fresno intersection where jaywalkers have battled the city’s best efforts to bring them to heel for years. Fresno Bee article

Louis Medina: An eye-opening walking audit in the streets of Kern – The outreach and advocacy manager for Community Action Partnership of Kern writes, “There are hazards on Kern County streets and roads for people walking, bicycling, using wheelchairs or pushing strollers. These hazards range from broken or nonexistent sidewalks; to poor street lighting at night; to vehicles parked so far away from the curb they protrude into painted bike lanes; to orphaned curb ramps that end abruptly at uneven, unpaved ground, looking pathetically like giant, broken shoehorns.” Medina op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Other areas

When it comes to ‘sin,’ Modesto land in the middle, rankings show — When it comes to sinful cities, Modesto falls right in the middle among its U.S. counterparts. According to WalletHub, Modesto ranked 81st, fourth behind Sacramento (38th), Bakersfield (59th) and Stockton (78th) among cities in the San Joaquin Valley. Las Vegas ranked No. 1 as the most sinful, while San Jose ranked the least sinful at No. 150. Fresno was 92nd. Modesto Bee article

Oakland warehouse fire: Overloaded electrical system seen as cause — Federal authorities are expected to say Tuesday that the deadly inferno inside a warehouse art collective that killed 36 people on Dec. 2 was caused by overloaded electrical lines at the rear of the structure where investigators had focused attention, according to sources familiar with the matter. San Jose Mercury News article

Crackdown on dangerous warehouses like the Ghost Ship will take detective work, money and commitment from city leaders – Truly cracking down on illegal converted warehouses is going to take time, detective work and likely more resources from municipal governments. Many operators of these warehouses work under the radar, avoiding city permits that would prompt scrutiny from inspectors. LA Times article

Deadly fire only the latest crisis to test Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s administration – Libby Schaaf knows how to make being mayor of one of California’s most troubled cities look like fun. LA Times article

Stockton Mayor Silva sells Morada house to care home group for $665,000 — Two weeks before he was defeated in his re-election bid, Mayor Anthony Silva sold his house in Morada for $665,000, according to property records. Silva sold the five-bedroom, 4,000-square-foot home on Shippee Lane to Community Care Homes of Stockton on Oct. 24. Stockton Record article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Sacramento Bee –- California’s Field Poll is closing just when we need it most; Congress must get to the bottom of Russia’s role in 2016 campaign.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: Lighted Boat Parade back, portraits for the homeless and other issues.