December 18, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

John Myers: The long, cold winter for California’s pension funds is coming — For those who believe that California is in danger of breaking its promise of retirement cash for local and state government workers, this week marks another important milestone in taking stock of the effort to change course. Myers in LA Times

Gun retailers report a run on firearms ahead of new California restrictions – Gov. Jerry Brown’s approval of sweeping gun control legislation in July has triggered a run on firearms in California, with some stores reporting sales have doubled since then. LA Times article

Valley politics

Lois Henry: Voters ought to have a chance to pick their own leaders — The citizens of Kern County elected Christine Lizardi Frazier superintendent of schools to a four-year term that ends in 2018. Rather than serve out her full term, Frazier announced on Nov. 8 that she was retiring in February. Associate Superintendent Mary Barlow will fill out the remainder of her term. In all likelihood, Barlow will run unopposed in 2018. When Barlow decides to retire, she will likely follow suit by picking someone to fill out her term who will then run unopposed and so on, and so on. Henry column in Bakersfield Californian

Other areas

Here’s what Colorado’s governor has to tell other states about legalizing marijuana — Four years ago, in the hours after Colorado became one of the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, Gov. John Hickenlooper sounded a cautionary, if humorous, note: “Don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly.” LA Times article

Social justice leaders from Vatican, world to converge in Modesto – here’s why — Modesto becomes a world stage in February when a Vatican co-sponsored conference gathers more than 600 people from across the world to discuss social justice issues. The U.S. regional World Meeting of Popular Movements will be held Feb. 16-19 at Central Catholic High School, an interfaith gathering where grass-roots community representatives will meet along with papal and international social justice group leaders. Modesto Bee article

Presidential Politics

California gets ready to defy Trump’s Washington – With Donald Trump set to become president next month and Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress, California’s Democrats believe their state should take the lead in opposing the new administration’s priorities. NPR report

Trump could force a California tax discussion; that could be good – With Donald Trump planning to cut taxes, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators will need to respond by trying to make sure Californians aren’t on the hook for more than their fair share. As part of the discussion, lawmakers should focus on ways to help workers at the low end, and use the tax code to encourage more hiring. Sacramento Bee editorial

Matt Weiser: What will Trump’s impact be on California’s environment? – The freelance writer who previously covered environmental issues for the Sacramento Bee writes, “To understand how the incoming Trump administration could muck around with environmental issues in California, let’s turn the clock back to 2003. That’s when Julie MacDonald decided the Sacramento splittail should no longer be an endangered species.” Weiser op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Senate investigation of Russian hacking will be broad, going beyond 2016 elections — The Senate’s most powerful committee with oversight of U.S. intelligence agencies will meet mostly behind closed doors as it takes on a broad and serious investigation into “cyber activity directed against our nation by the Russian government,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, intelligence committee chairman, on Friday. McClatchy Newspapers article

Bakersfield Californian: Before we move on, audit state’s election system — Only an audit will put an end to this latest conspiracy theory and allow President-elect Trump to “move on.” He’s our next president. That has been decided. It is unproductive and harmful for him to keep inflating the circumstances of his election. Bakersfield Californian editorial

The Electoral College meets Monday. Here’s what to expect — On Monday, 538 people will meet to determine who will be the next president. These meetings of the Electoral College, convened in every state and the District of Columbia just shy of six weeks after Election Day, have long been little more than a formality. New York Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

North Fork tribe’s casino hits new delay after appellate judge rejects state agreement — The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians’ plan for a Las Vegas-style casino on a site north of Madera hit another snag when the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Fresno invalidated Gov. Jerry Brown’s authorization to use the land for gaming. Fresno Bee article

Modesto, other cities brace for higher pension costs – Modesto and other government agencies across California could be paying a lot more for their employees’ pensions, which will squeeze their budgets, as the state pension fund tries to shore up its finances. Modesto Bee article

Rise in STDs among teens, pregnant women alarms health officials — Local health officials are warning of a surge in sexually transmitted diseases, especially among high school students and mothers who are infecting their babies. The Kern County Public Health Services Department has assembled a multi-year plan to address what it’s calling a crisis, and instilling the help of school boards, county supervisors and church leaders. Bakersfield Californian article

Jobs and the Economy

Michael Fitzgerald: In 2016, downtown Stockton revival becomes tangible – A good downtown should boast housing, workplaces, bars, government agencies, bars, cafes, coffee shops, public art, shops, bars, plazas, markets, banks, bar-restaurants and bars. Speaking of which, The Deliberation Room is set to open on New Year’s Eve. It looks to be a classy bar-restaurant at 19 N. California St. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Retailers spark seasonal surge in Fresno County hiring – Retailers in Fresno County continued to add jobs last month as they ramped up for the Christmas shopping season, but they did so at a slower pace than last year. And farm jobs suffered their greatest decline of the year in November, sending the county’s unemployment rate to 9.3 percent. Fresno Bee article

Kings’ November jobless rate his 9.3 percent – Kings County’s unemployment rate hit 9.3 percent in November, up slightly from 9 percent in October but down from 10.4 percent in November 2015, according to new numbers released Friday by the California Employment Development Department. Hanford Sentinel article

More millennials are skipping college and choosing blue collar jobs instead — For years, the idea of going to college, getting a degree and parlaying that into a stable career was widely accepted as the best possible route for most young people in America. Now, that might no longer be the case. McClatchy Newspapers article

Helena closer to moving away from Costco – Helena Chemical Co. could move one step closer to relocating away from Costco after this week. On Tuesday, the council is considering selling 16.43 acres of city-owned property in Kings Industrial Park to the agricultural chemical firm. Hanford Sentinel article

Veterans help make San Diego a hub for start-ups — For decades, politicians lobbied to bring military bases to their districts for one reason: jobs. A base is akin to a corporate headquarters, bringing with it jobs in related businesses. Here, the high concentration of military bases has turned the region into a growing entrepreneurial hub for veterans. New York Times article

Sacramento just issued 1,744 late-night parking tickets.  Here’s where … — Sacramento’s switch to nighttime metering has produced unpleasant surprises for many. A Sacramento Bee review of citation data found that 1,744 visitors received nighttime tickets for expired meters in November, the first month the city began issuing citations in the evening at expired meters throughout downtown. Sacramento Bee article

Q&A: How LA is housing thousands of homeless before Proposition HHH units get built —  New homeless housing to be built using the $1.2-billion bond Los Angeles city voters approved in November may be three to five years in the future. In the meantime, a program created by Mitchell H. Katz, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, is striving to get thousands of the most debilitated homeless people off the streets sooner. LA Times article


Stormier times for California’s water expected under new law — The first winter storm of 2017 to drop welcome rain over the rivers, pumps, pipes and canals that move California’s water north to south likely will open a new era of tension over how much water goes to fish or farms under a new U.S law. AP articleVisalia Times-Delta article

Leaders, farmers, residents plea against Delta water plan – San Joaquin County residents and public officials alike voiced opposition this week against a state plan to increase flows from the Stanislaus River as well as increase allowable salt in the southern San Joaquin Delta, stating the proposals could have significant negative impacts on the region’s agricultural viability. Stockton Record article

Modesto Bee: If the state carries out its plan, our region will suffer – None of us – farmers included – want to see dead rivers. We know we’ve asked our rivers to do too much; we’re eager to do what we can to revitalize them. But this plan isn’t about the rivers; it’s about taking water. With it will go our wealth, our contentment, our health. Modesto Bee editorial

Terry Erlewine: California WaterFix is the ‘grand compromise’ for the Delta – The general manager of the State Water Contractors writes, “Public water agencies throughout California are looking to spend billions of dollars in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to address a fundamental physical reality: The existing water system in the southern Delta poses an intractable environmental problem. The only solution is to construct a new, sufficiently sized conveyance system to move water supplies.” Erlewine op-ed in Sacramento Bee

The passing of a local dairy legend — Peter Belezzuoli, the well-known auctioneer from Overland Stockyard, died this week at the age of 61 from what appears to have been a heart attack, leaving a huge void in the local dairy and agriculture scene. Hanford Sentinel article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

California prisons reduce risk of valley fever for inmates – In the last few years, state prisons, at least, have made changes. They have worked harder to screen out prisoners who are the most vulnerable to the disease and to take measures to lower the risk to inmates who are incarcerated there. Center for Health Journalism Collaborative article

Video visitation will help Tulare County inmates maintain family ties, sheriff says — Inmates in Tulare County will now have a new way to communicate with their families, one that Sheriff Mike Boudreaux hopes will increase their chances for success when they return to society. Beginning Jan. 9, the Tulare County Sheriff’s detention facilities will introduce video visitation services, expanding visitation to seven days a week instead of one, said the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office. Fresno Bee article


Jeff Jardine: With three new trustees, will Yosemite Community College District board ‘blindly support’ next chancellor? — Over the course of about five minutes, a Modesto Junior College instructor defined the past, present and future of the Yosemite Community College District leadership. Curtis Martin is president of MJC’s academic senate. At the YCCD board meeting Wednesday night, he wished the newly sworn in board members well, saying he hoped Darin Gharat, Leslie Beggs and Jon Rodriguez represent a “breath of fresh air in the community.” He next uttered words that bore a veiled shot at previous boards and a message to the new one. Jardine column in Modesto Bee


Risk of deadly avalanche grows as snow falls in Sierra — The death of a 64-year-old Aptos man at Mount Rose Ski Resort this month punctuates the fact that the Sierra snow season, for the second year in a row, is starting out with dangerous avalanche conditions.  Sacramento Bee article

Health/Human Services 

How a repeal of Obamacare could affect you even if you have employer health insurance – Scrapping the law also could change how health insurance works for 6.8 million Illinois residents and 156 million Americans who had coverage last year through employers, as estimated by the Henry J. Kaiser Family FoundationChicago Tribune article in Sacramento Bee

Californians with pre-existing conditions worried about health care future — A stunning analysis released this past week by the Menlo Park-based Kaiser Family Foundation found that 52 million American adults under age 65 — including 5.8 million Californians — have pre-existing health conditions that would most likely make them uninsurable under underwriting practices in place in most states before Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law six years ago. San Jose Mercury News article

She has a dying heart, now Madera woman has a new one and she is helping heart patients – For nearly six years, Dianna Amberg lived with a dying heart. She had to rely on a pacemaker/defibrillator and a device placed inside her chest to help her weakened heart. Amberg, 45, of Madera began to wonder if she would ever get a heart transplant and how long she could live at the mercy of the two mechanical devices keeping her alive. Fresno Bee article

Stanford manufactures gene-engineered cells to cure the incurable — To the list of cool new things made in Silicon Valley, add this: Life, improved. Inside “clean rooms” of Stanford University’s fledgling Laboratory for Cell and Gene Medicine, lab techs tend machines that churn out gene-engineered cells, which can attack cancer, fix blood disease, patch a heart, alter the immune system, build skin grafts and create a realm of yet-to-be discovered therapies.  East Bay Times article

Land Use/Housing

Proposed truck stop in Lathrop meets with opposition — Residents in Lathrop say a proposed truck stop along Roth Road will bring unwanted traffic, noise and crime to their neighborhood, but county supervisors on Tuesday told them their complaints should be taken to another board. Stockton Record article


Southwest signs deal with boost onboard Wi-Fi service – Southwest Airlines, the nation’s largest domestic carrier, has good news for fliers who want to stay connected: The Dallas-based airline plans to offer Wi-Fi service on all of its planes by the end of next year. LA Times article

Why the driverless car industry is happy (so far) with Trump’s pick for Transportation secretary — Silicon Valley voted heavily for Hillary Clinton, but companies working on driverless cars seem overjoyed with President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary, Elaine Chao. Chao will wield great power over how driverless cars and other automated vehicles will be regulated – or not. LA Times article

Other areas


  1. Vernon Conrad remembered as a low-key fighter for the ‘little guy’— As a three-term Fresno County supervisor, A. Vernon Conrad is remembered as an advocate for the small farmer affected by air-quality rules as well as welfare recipients trying to re-enter the workforce without going broke. Fresno Bee article

Mike Klocke: A Very Stockton Christmas Eve – Klocke gives a Stockton take on the holiday classic.  Klocke in Stockton Record

‘Spiritual warfare,’ ‘demonic attacks.’ The role religion played in home for sex-trafficking victims — A Sacramento-area home for teen sex-trafficking victims was cited this year after performing a religious ritual on one of the girls. The clash underscores the tension that can arise when faith-based service providers get government funding to care for vulnerable clients. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Bakersfield Californian  Only an audit will put an end to this latest conspiracy theory and allow President-elect Trump to “move on.” He’s our next president. That has been decided. It is unproductive and harmful for him to keep inflating the circumstances of his election.

Fresno Bee – With much less water, most of north Valley will suffer.

Modesto Bee – None of us – farmers included – want to see dead rivers. We know we’ve asked our rivers to do too much; we’re eager to do what we can to revitalize them. But this plan isn’t about the rivers; it’s about taking water. With it will go our wealth, our contentment, our health.

Sacramento Bee –- With Donald Trump planning to cut taxes, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators will need to respond by trying to make sure Californians aren’t on the hook for more than their fair share. As part of the discussion, lawmakers should focus on ways to help workers at the low end, and use the tax code to encourage more hiring.