December 14, 2016


Political Stories-Top stories

Dan Walters: Two large inland cities have new mayors, seek new paths — Darrell Steinberg was sworn in as Sacramento’s latest mayor on Tuesday and in Fresno, 170 miles down Highway 99, Lee Brand will join the mayoral ranks in a few weeks. As inland California’s two largest cities undergo executive changes, both seek redefinition and respect in a state dominated, politically and economically, by coastal megalopolises whose leaders tend to look down on those not blessed with saltwater vistas. Walters column in Sacramento Bee

Water bill caps big week in Washington for local leaders — Following November’s election, congressional representatives from the San Joaquin Valley are becoming increasingly influential in Washington. From House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s efforts to pass a bill that aims to divert more water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and deliver it to valley farmers, to Rep. Devin Nunes’ role in President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, local leaders are in the national headlines. KVPR report

Gov. Brown

Taxpayers’ group sues Gov. Jerry Brown to overturn law allowing public financing of campaigns – A taxpayer group has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Jerry Brown that seeks to invalidate a new law that will allow public funds to be used for political campaigning. LA Times article

 Jerry Brown wants Obama to permanently ban oil and gas drilling off California coast – Gov. Jerry Brown called Tuesday on President Barack Obama to permanently ban new offshore oil and gas drilling off California’s coast, and renewed his promise to confront the threat of climate change regardless of what direction Republican Donald Trump takes as incoming president. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Kristin Olsen named vice chair of California Republican Party – Former Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen of Riverbank will serve as the vice chair of the California Republican Party. The statewide organization made the announcement Tuesday. Modesto Bee article

Fant fraud trial delayed again — Former Manteca Unified school trustee and Stockton City Council candidate Sam Fant’s trial on charges of felony election fraud and conspiracy has been continued for a third time. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Here’s what California might look like when Republicans fall behind independents – Steve Schmidt, the Republican strategist who advised John McCain’s presidential bid and helped elect Arnold Schwarzenegger governor of California, imagines a not-too-distant future where the GOP here ceases to wield the influence of a major party and instead becomes the state’s largest interest group. Sacramento Bee article

CA 120: Next gov’s contest will be Reep on Dem — With a flood of expected gubernatorial candidates on the Democratic side, and a lack of Republican candidates lining up for 2018, many are convinced that we are headed for another Democratic intraparty runoff. So, again, it is prediction time. And again, I will go with the math and say the general election of the 2018 governor’s race will follow tradition and feature a Democrat versus Republican. Capitol Weekly article


Kamala Harris says California will ‘provide national leadership’ on immigration under a Trump administration — California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris vowed Monday to be a loud, supportive voice for immigrants after she becomes a U.S. senator next month, pledging to push for comprehensive immigration reform and to work closely with lawmakers in Sacramento to “provide national leadership” on the topic. LA Times article

Two tunnels, one incomplete, reported at San Diego-Tijuana border — Mexican federal authorities are reporting that the Sinaloa Cartel is behind two clandestine tunnels — one of them completed — whose entrances were discovered west of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Other areas

Joel Fox: Business must tout the jobs issue — Look at any survey about California policy and politics and one constant over the last number of years is that voters are concerned foremost about jobs and the economy. In the October Public Policy Institute of California poll, jobs and the economy was cited as the most important issue facing California and according to the PPIC press release on that poll Democrats and Republicans agree, “Jobs and the economy is the most frequently named issue across parties.” Fox in Fox & Hounds

Patterson floats bill blocking highway funds from rail bond repayment – Assemblymember Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) Tuesday introduced legislation in Sacramento that would prevent the High Speed Rail Authority from using tax dollars meant for roadways to pay off rail debt. The Business Journal article

Darrell Steinberg sworn in as Sacramento’s 56th mayor – Six months after winning a decisive victory in the June primary, Darrell Steinberg became the 56th mayor of Sacramento on Tuesday night in front of a crowd of nearly 2,000 peopleSacramento Bee article

Incoming Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg says he will resign from law firm – Hours before taking office, Mayor-elect Darrell Steinberg said he will resign from his law firm at the end of the year to concentrate on leading the city. Sacramento Bee article

California representatives want more information on government animal testing — Federal agencies don’t do enough to track and justify their use of live animals for research, several members of Congress wrote in a letter asking the U.S. Government Accountability Office to examine the issue. LA Times article

From his home in Russia, #Calexit leader plots California secession – On paper, the leader of the California secession movement lives in an apartment complex near San Diego’s Golden Hill neighborhood. But in reality, the Calexit campaign is being run by a 30-year-old who lives and works in a city on the edge of Siberia. KQED report

Who’s in and who’s out in the race to replace Rep. Xavier Becerra in Congress — The names of nearly a dozen potential candidates to replace Becerra in Los Angeles’ 34th Congressional District have been floated since Dec. 1, when Gov. Jerry Brown named him as the chosen successor to Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, California’s newest U.S. senator. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Scientists frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump – Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference. Washington Post article

Silicon Valley CEOs didn’t hide their disdain for Donald Trump. Now comes the reckoning – Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs made little effort over the last year to conceal their distaste for Donald Trump, a candidate whose social media savvy belied what they saw as a staggering disregard for the innovation economy and the tech culture that has fostered it. Now comes the reckoning. LA Times article

Silicon Valley titans who warred with Trump flock to his ‘tech summit’ — Silicon Valley and Donald Trump warred during the campaign but now that he’s president-elect, the top leaders of U.S. technology companies are headed to a Trump “tech summit” Wednesday. McClatchy Newspapers article

Rick Perry has never seen eye to eye with California. That’s unlikely to change if he becomes Energy Secretary – Rick Perry loves to poke fun at California. When he was Texas governor, he swung through the state on publicity tours to mock its liberal policies and try to lure businesses away. LA Times article

Mike Der Manouel Jr.: Fresno State professors have Trump’s victory all wrong – The Fresno businessman and chairman and co-founder of the Lincoln Club of Fresno County writes, “Trump won the election because the American political establishment has stumbled, badly. There simply aren’t enough white supremacists in the country to have made any measurable difference in the 2016 election.” Der Manoeul Jr. op-ed in Fresno Bee

The perfect weapon: How Russian cyberpower invaded the U.S. – An examination by The Times of the Russian operation — based on interviews with dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response — reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack. New York Times article

Trump won on emotional issues, not weak Democratic message, Pelosi says – Donald Trump won the election with strong appeals to emotions, particularly on trade issues, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday. The California Democrat was asked at a meeting with reporters what lessons Democrats had learned in last month’s election. McClatchy Newspapers article

Guess who dropped by Trump Tower Tuesday morning? Kanye West, of course — Was Kanye West pulling a Donald Trump on Tuesday morning, or vice versa? The two masters of media attention emerged from the Trump Tower lobby elevator together — and that’s a heck of a lot more exciting than seeing Mike Pence or Rudy Giuliani. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

High-speed rail board approves plans to unlock bond billions — The California High-Speed Rail Authority’s board took a “momentous” step Tuesday toward unlocking billions of dollars in state bond funds that it needs to continue construction in the San Joaquin Valley and on the San Francisco Peninsula. Fresno Bee articleAP article

California’s giant pension fund kicked the tobacco habit. Now it’s reconsidering — CalPERS kicked the cigarette habit 16 years ago. Now it appears ready to reverse course. The staff of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, after an eight-month study, is recommending that the nation’s largest public pension fund drop its ban on investing in tobacco stocks. CalPERS’ investment committee is expected to vote on the recommendation next Monday. Sacramento Bee articleSacramento Bee editorialLA Times article

Man fatally shot by Bakersfield police Monday morning was unarmed, multiple reports say – A 73-year-old man who was shot dead by police in southwest Bakersfield early Monday was unarmed, according to multiple reports.  Police have said they were called to a report of a man who was brandishing a handgun in the 7900 block of Silver Birch Avenue. Bakersfield Californian article‘Vigil held for 73-year-old shot by police’ in Bakersfield CalifornianLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Fresno courting Amazon for e-commerce site and 2,000 new jobs – A potential e-commerce warehouse for clothing retailer Nordstrom fell by the wayside earlier this year, but the city of Fresno may offer a hefty financial lure to another potential suitor with a bigger name for the same southwest Fresno site. Fresno Bee article

In the fine print, SEIU contract includes 9 to 19 percent raises for many workers – A proposed contract for state government’s largest union includes dozens of special pay raises for certain workers that could increase their salaries by as much as 19 percent next year, according to new details released this week by the bargaining units. Sacramento Bee article

Job training experts talk about matching skills to openings in Stanislaus – Yes, it helps to know warehouse robotics or some other advanced technology when seeking work in Stanislaus County, experts said Tuesday. It also helps to have reading and math skills, to be punctual and to have other time-honored traits. About 60 people took part in a meeting at the county Office of Education that explored whether the skills being taught match up with what employers need. Modesto Bee article

Fresno City Hall staffers will join Swearengin at charitable foundation — Soon-to-be former Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin will have plenty of familiar faces around her when she takes on her new job as president/CEO of the Central Valley Community Foundation early next year. Swearengin is bringing a cadre of current and former City Hall staffers with her to the foundation, which serves as a local nonprofit clearinghouse for charitable contributions, grants and bequests from philanthropists. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Challenges of housing, workfore and water take spotlight on Day One of 2016 Summit – Capturing ideas to take on the triple challenges of California’s housing crisis, water problems, and workforce skills gaps were the focus of day one of the 2016 California Economic Summit in Sacramento Tuesday.  California Economic Summit report

Hanford Fox Theatre cancels December shows — After a piece of plaster from the ceiling fell on the stage over the weekend, Fox Theatre owner Dan Humason is cancelling events scheduled at the historic theater for the remainder of the year. Hanford Sentinel article

Alameda County approves negotiations on $1.3 billion Raiders stadium — A late bid to keep the Oakland Raiders from moving took a step forward Tuesday after Alameda County supervisors approved opening negotiations with an investment group on a $1.3 billion stadium project. AP article

Leading the way: Northern California’s cities to embark on soda tax spending — Now that voters have passed soda taxes in Oakland, Albany and San Francisco, Le and other Bay Area health providers are eyeing millions of dollars in revenue that could help more patients prevent obesity and dental decay. KQED report

Hart Park user fee set for Jan. 10 decision — Hart Park is on its way to becoming a fee-supported venue after the Kern County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to hold a Jan. 10 public hearing on a $5 day use charge for the iconic northeast Bakersfield open space. Bakersfield Californian article

Compton hopes its many celebrities can help reshape its image – and its economic fortunes — Compton is in the midst of a major turnaround. The city of roughly 100,000, for so long synonymous with gang violence and blight, is remaking itself with new a host of new businesses. Crime is down from the highs of the 1990s, and some of the cultural touchstones that once challenged the city’s image — notably gangsta rap — have taken on an almost retro coolness. LA Times article


Toxic water plagues rural California – Californians relying on small water utilities to bring drinking water into their homes, or who work or go to school in places providing their own water, are far more likely to be exposed to lead, according to a new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data by The Desert Sun and USA TODAY. USA TODAY article

Fact check: Feinstein way off the mark when she said ‘tens of thousands’ of California farmers going bankrupt – On Tuesday, in response to an inquiry from The Sacramento Bee, Feinstein’s office acknowledged she’d made a mistake, which was blamed on a mix-up with her speech writer. Sacramento Bee article

Stockton Record: Thanks for nothing, DiFi – For those who truly care about the San Joaquin Delta and the future of the vital estuary, one thing is abundantly clear: The wrong longtime U.S. senator from California is retiring. Stockton Record editorial

California farmers say healthier soil could improve air quality, grow tastier produce – We all like to find ways to focus on leading healthy lifestyles. We search out healthy foods, join the gym, and want to breathe clean air. But what about health of the soil that grows our food? As FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports, some valley farmers are turning to cleaning soil in an effort to use less water and to help clean air. KVPR report

Eric Wesselman and Anita Lodge: Temperance Flat distracts from real water solutions – Wesselman, executive director of Friends of the River, and Auberry resident Lodge write, “The Fresno Bee editorial “Temperance Flat is linchpin of Valley’s water future” omitted critical facts about this project, including how much water it will reliably produce, who will actually benefit from that water, and how much it will really cost. The reality is that this dam will never produce as much water as promised and it will only be built if state and federal taxpayers are saddled with the lion’s share of its multibillion-dollar price tag. Wesselman/Lodge op-ed in Fresno Bee

Beatris Espericueta Sanders: Rigorous testing seems to apply only to us – The executive director of the Kern County Farm Bureau writes, “We recently saw Hepatitis A come into the U.S. through frozen strawberries. How many more times will we put our families at risk through imported food? As our local food production decreases and imports increase in the coming years, it’s a question we should all be asking. California industries are easily the most regulated in the world but our regulations should come with a healthy dose of common sense. Crushing mandates that drive jobs out of our state while making us more reliant on foreign food and foreign oil — produced under conditions with little to no environmental health and safety regulations in place — make no sense at all.” Sanders op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Stockton police announce new body cam policy – The Stockton Police Department announced Tuesday that it is amending departmental policy regarding the public release of officer-worn body camera footage in critical incidents. The change comes as the Police Department is seeking to improve body camera equipment issued to all officers. The department began using body cameras in 2015 and has expanded the program in the past two years. Stockton Record article

Still no Fresno County home set for child molester Jeffrey Snyder — Fresno County authorities aren’t any closer to finding a home for child molester Jeffrey Snyder after his latest court appearance Tuesday morning. Snyder, who grew up in Fresno, won his freedom in March. But he remains one of 480 sexually violent predators in California who have finished their prison sentences but are considered so dangerous that they must remain locked up. He’s in Coalinga State Hospital waiting for authorities to make arrangements for his civilian housing. Fresno Bee article

Latino family’s vehicles vandalized, painted with ‘Trump,’ ethnic slur – When they walked out of their West Whitmore Avenue home to go to work early Monday morning, Ana Soto’s parents noticed one of their cars wasn’t sitting evenly. Within moments, it registered: Two cars and two vans parked out front had been vandalized. Tires slashed, windows smashed. To make matters worse, the vehicles had been tagged with spray paint, including what appear to read “Trump” and “Go Trump” in a couple of places, an ethnic slur in at least one other spot. The writing, done in dark of night and likely in haste, is in places hard to read. One scrawl looks more like “Trumre” than “Trump.” Modesto Bee article

Family of Venice man to receive $4 million as LA settles multiple fatal officer shooting suits — The Los Angeles City Council agreed Tuesday to pay more than $8 million to settle lawsuits filed by relatives of three men who were shot and killed by LAPD officers. LA Times article


‘I’m not running from a damn thing’: Hanson says departure unrelated to FBI investigation – Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson said Tuesday that his decision to end his tenure this summer is not related to a federal investigation of the district’s no-bid contracts or his critics’ calls for him to resign. Fresno Bee articleKVPR report

Merced College board taps Vice President Chris Vitelli as next leader — Chris Vitelli, Merced College’s vice president of student services, was named Tuesday as the next president of the school, capping a year that has been troubled by internal disputes at the campus and unanswered questions about the departure of its last leader. Merced Sun-Star article

In Apple’s backyard, iPads ignite furor in schools — In the shadow of Apple Computer’s 1 Infinite Loop headquarters, an initiative requiring public middle schoolers to use iPads in class and at home has spawned a growing battle over education in the digital age. San Jose Mercury News article

Barlow confirmed as new Kern superintendent of schools – The Kern County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to confirm Mary Barlow, the county’s associate superintendent, as the next Kern County Superintendent of Schools when Christine Lizardi Frazier retires next month. Bakersfield Californian article

West Hills Community College District chancellor candidates speak at forum — Candidates for chancellor of the West Hills Community College District spoke to faculty, students and the public in the first of three public forums Monday in Lemoore. Hanford Sentinel article

‘Choices’ delay action on north county Delta College campus — A vote to build a new San Joaquin Delta College campus on the north end of the county likely won’t happen soon after President Kathy Hart recommended to the Board of Trustees to indefinitely postpone its previous decision to approve a site south of Galt. Stockton Record article

For Merced students, ‘Shop with a Cop’ a bright day in holiday season – Nichole Deroboam hugged every police officer at the Merced Mall on Tuesday morning, and then she met Santa Claus. The 9-year-old Merced girl squealed, jumped up and down and greeted him with a giant hug, too. Nichole, a fourth-grader at Joe Stefani Elementary School, was one of 20 students who participated in Tuesday’s “Shop With a Cop” event. Students from Merced City Schools, from kindergartners to eighth-graders, were paired with Merced police officers for a day of Christmas shopping, courtesy of the Merced Mall. Merced Sun-Star article

Federal government again rejects California’s plan to try out new science tests – California wants to update its standardized tests in science. But for the second time, federal officials have nixed the state’s rollout plans. LA Times articleEdSource article

Welcome aboard: Stockton Unified trustees take oath amid threat of teachers strike — New Stockton Unified School District trustee Lange Luntao knew he was going to be thrown right in the fire by the sight of his first school board agenda: a monster of a packet that was 400-plus pages. Stockton Record article

Where’s former Lamont administrator Jose Cantu now? Negotiating teacher employment contracts – Jose Cantu, a former Lamont administrator who resigned his position after community members discovered that he falsified his employment contract by lying about his lack of administrative credentials, has returned to a line of work he knows a thing or two about: contract negotiations. Bakersfield Californian article

Former UC Davis Chancellor Katehi no longer in running for feminist institute job — Former UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi has turned down a nomination to lead the school’s Feminist Research Institute, according to UC Davis officials.  Sacramento Bee article


Reversing course, EPA says fracking can contaminate drinking water – The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded that hydraulic fracturing, the oil and gas extraction technique also known as fracking, has contaminated drinking water in some circumstances, according to the final version of a comprehensive study first issued in 2015. New York Times article

David Keranan: Fighting climate change vital, hoax or not – The retired Bakersfield College mathematics professor writes, “If we significantly curb the greenhouse effect and the scientists are wrong, at least we would have a cleaner environment and could save hundreds of thousands, or perhaps millions, of people from respiratory disease and/or death. That in itself is worth doing.” Keranan op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Lois Henry: Down the rabbit hole with electricity rates — My friend, I’ll call him “John” (which actually is his real name), emailed me about a situation that I confess I have no answer for. John has solar panels on his roof but was still getting hosed on his electric bill. Why? Because John also has an electric vehicle (EV). Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

The 102 million dead trees in California’s forests are turning tree cutters into millionaires — The die-off has hit the southern half of the Sierra Nevada range — Fresno and Tulare counties — especially hard. The Forest Service estimates more than 24 million trees in this region are dead, and getting rid of them has become both a problem and an opportunity. “There is a Gold Rush for those of us who are willing to bust ass,” says Kant, who charges $1,700 a day for his services. LA Times article

Health/Human Services 

Delayed investigations against California nurses could pose risk to patients, audit finds – The California board charged with resolving complaints against registered nurses has such a huge backlog that some active caregivers may pose a risk to patient safety, according to a new audit.  Sacramento Bee article

Obamacare signups continue in Valley despite GOP promises to repeal law – Some residents are signing up for Obamacare or renewing their Covered California health plans, despite the promises of President-elect Donald Trump and fellow Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Modesto Bee article

Health advocates vow to fight repeal of Obamacare as California sign-up deadlines approach – Ignore the political uncertainty swirling around Obamacare: If you want health insurance coverage in California starting Jan. 1, sign up this week. Sacramento Bee article

Creative way to fight cancer: 70-year-old Modesto woman starts small business — When life gives you multiple myeloma, you make wreaths. You do, at least, if you’re Beverly Pedersen. The 70-year-old Modesto resident, diagnosed with the cancer in June, is no stranger to struggle. Modesto Bee article

New HIV studies offer fresh hope for a cure — The HIV research community is increasingly optimistic about the promising “shock and kill” approach to eradicating HIV from infected patients. Such removal of all traces of the virus from an individual’s body would represent an actual cure for AIDS. KQED report


 Google rebrands self-driving car, a project at Castle Commerce Center — The self-driving-car project that Google started seven years ago has grown into a company called Waymo, signaling its confidence that it will be able to bring robot-controlled vehicles, which have been tested at Castle Commerce Center in Atwater, to the masses within the next few years. AP article

Uber expands its self-driving car service to San Francisco — Uber has always had a special relationship with this city. The ride-hailing company was founded and headquartered here. In its early days, one of the towns where Uber grew fastest was its hometown. New York Times article

FAA orders a halt to evictions of aviation companies at embattled Santa Monica airport — The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday ordered Santa Monica to halt the evictions of two aviation companies at its municipal airport until the agency can finish an investigation into the city’s effort to shut down the facility. LA Times article

Other areas

Silva speaks his mind in final Stockton City Council meeting – Anthony Silva bid farewell Tuesday night, parting shots and all, as he presided over his final City Council meeting after four stormy years as Stockton’s mayor. Stockton Record article

Nascimento leaves Turlock City Council with praise, standing ovation – The bitterness of a hard-fought political battle for City Council was absent Tuesday as a packed and festive crowd said “goodbye” to Steven Nascimento and “thanks for staying” to Amy Bublak. Modesto Bee article

Chief: Fire department unaware of Oakland warehouse concerns – Complaints mounted about the cluttered warehouse converted into an illegal artists’ colony before a deadly blaze ripped through earlier this month, but few — if any — made it to the Oakland Fire Department. AP article

Heat-seeking drones could reduce fire deaths – When firefighters were quelling the last of Oakland’s catastrophic Ghost Ship warehouse fire on the morning of December 3, they used a relatively new tool: an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone. KQED report

Former Kern County Judge Clarence Westra Jr. has died — Clarence Westra Jr., remembered as a no-nonsense, highly capable judge who had little patience for unprepared attorneys, was found dead at his home in Nipomo Friday, according to the San Luis Obispo County coroner’s office. He was 71. Bakersfield Californian article

Danny Morrison: My five New Year’s resolutions for Bakersfield — I would like to present New Year’s Resolutions for the city of Bakersfield. A reset. A rebirth. Five resolutions that I believe, if realized, could also solve longstanding issues that pose imminent threats to our economy, our way of life and our future. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

 Henry Lemay, singing voice of Fresno’s veterans, dies at age 83 — Henry Lemay served his country by fighting abroad, but served his neighbors with a strong voice that his wife says carried itself to the ears of listeners. Mr. Lemay, a Fresno resident, sang until he died on Nov. 30. He was 83. Fresno Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Get to the bottom of Russia’s role in the 2016 campaign; The questions Rex Tillerson must answer to become secretary of state.

Sacramento Bee –- The latest news out of California’s giant pension fund almost makes you wonder what its investment advisers are smoking; The questions Rex Tillerson must answer to become secretary of state.

Stockton Record – For those who truly care about the San Joaquin Delta and the future of the vital estuary, one thing is abundantly clear: The wrong longtime U.S. senator from California is retiring.