December 19, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Brown exploring if new bond measure can be divvied up differently – Gov. Jerry Brown hasn’t given up his quest to reform how the state allocates money for school construction, even though state voters last month approved a $9 billion school facilities bond that left the current funding system in place. EdSource article

George Skelton: California Republicans have nowhere to go but up – and Assemblyman Chad Myers could be the one to lead them there — Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes is old school. Really old school. But he may represent the future for the California GOP if it can survive and rebuild. Skelton column in LA Times


Democrats push for pardon of undocumented immigrant ‘Dreamers’ – While top administration officials have largely dismissed the idea, the members of Congress argue such a pardon is a “critical” action, consistent with the Constitution, that could open doors. KQED report

Jose Gaspar: Pro-immigrant groups prepare for D-Day (the Donald’s inauguration) — As they say in sports, a good defense is a good offense. So it’s enlightening to see a wide array of groups ranging from churches, civic organizations, schools, veterans, politicos and plain community people taking a united front as D-Day approaches and Donald Trump is sworn in as president. Gaspar column in Bakersfield Californian

Presidential Politics

Activists take to the streets to protest Donald Trump ahead of electoral college vote – A coalition of activist groups on Sunday took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles to protest against some of the labor and immigration policies proposed by President-elect Donald Trump, a day before he is expected to officially claim victory in the nation’s presidential contest. LA Times article

Marcos Breton: Donald Trump can’t deport my family, but he’s done something worse — Since Donald Trump was elected president, I’ve been thinking a lot about how my family came to the United States and how stories like ours were disparaged and misrepresented by Trump on his way to the White House. Breton column in Sacramento Bee

News Stories – Top Stories

The risks are high in lending money to pot businesses: ‘This is not for the faint of heart’ – Despite California voters’ approval last month of Proposition 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, and coming ground rules for pot businesses set to take effect in 2018, it remains difficult and expensive for companies that want to grow, process or sell marijuana to borrow money. LA Times article

California tries again to thwart prison cellphone smuggling — California is installing nearly 1,000 sophisticated metal detectors, scanners and secret security cameras at its prisons in its latest attempt to thwart the smuggling of cellphones, thousands of which continue to flood the prisons despite previous efforts. AP article

Jobs and the Economy

Unions given preference for jobs on $500 million Bay Area wetlands tax — In a move that critics say could increase costs and delay projects, a low-profile government agency responsible for handing out $500 million to restore San Francisco Bay’s wetlands and improve flood control has ruled that most of the construction contracts must be awarded to union workers. San Jose Mercury News article

Spanos darkens dark day for Chargers, says leaning toward LA — On a day when their rivals’ fans overtook the Chargers’ home stadium like no visiting group ever had and the Raiders clinched their first playoff berth since 2002, Spanos added insult to insult. According to Scott Kaplan, the sideline reporter for the CBS television broadcast, Spanos said before the game he is leaning toward moving to Los Angeles but would have stayed in San Diego had Measure C received 50 percent of the vote. San Diego Union-Tribune article

Judge orders State Farm to cut insurance rates, put refunds on hold — State Farm customers in California could soon be paying lower premiums for homeowners, condo and renters insurance but will have to wait for the outcome of a lawsuit to know whether they will also get refunds from the company. LA Times article

Fitz’s Stockton: Put your career on wheels — Want to buy a pedicab? Elizabeth Wong Fontana is selling hers. A Main Street (make) Broadway (model). Fitz’s Stockton in Stockton Record

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Modesto seeks restraining order to protect police sergeant — Modesto is seeking a restraining order to protect one of its police sergeants, who claims he was threatened by a Modesto man and fears for his safety. Modesto Bee article

Jury indicts 11 Red Sol defendants – Operation Red Sol involved a 400-page document containing 151 charges against various Norteno gang members. Charges included homicide, robbery, weapons and drug allegations. On Thursday, a Grand Jury indicted 11 defendants on 65 felony charges. Tulare County District Attorney Tim Ward said the process to consolidate into one case helps focus efforts of local law enforcement. Visalia Times-Delta article

2 Alameda County deputies fired over suspect beating — Two Alameda County sheriff’s deputies seen on surveillance video beating a man with batons in San Francisco’s Mission District have been fired, authorities said. AP article

They’re serving 20 years for running a pot dispensary. Will Obama grant them clemency? — By 2006, former high school football teammates Luke Scarmazzo and Ricardo Montes were living an unimaginable dream in an unlikely setting. Two years before in Modesto, the conservative Central Valley city where ’50s teen cruisers inspired George Lucas’ 1973 film “American Graffiti,” the friends had opened the town’s first medical marijuana dispensary. Sacramento Bee article


One solution to failing K-12 schools? Let universities help — As Los Angeles Unified struggles with financial woes and an enrollment crisis, universities including UCLA and Loyola Marymount are stepping in to help. In exchange, they are gaining a significant say in how the schools are run, winning some of the freedom that charter schools enjoy, including having a say in teacher hiring and curriculum choice. LA Times article

Clovis veteran outraged by Fresno State Hijab Challenge — A retired Clovis Marine is calling the Hijab Challenge held at Fresno State in October an unconstitutional endorsement of religion at a public school. Robert Havay, who served 20 years in the U.S. Marines, sent a letter of complaint to Fresno State President Joseph Castro expressing his concerns over the Oct. 5 and 6 event held by the Muslim Student Association. Fresno Bee article

UC Merced graduates walk across the stage in Winter Celebration — Though traditional graduation season is months away, dozens of freshly minted UC Merced grads marked the completion of their degrees during a ceremony over the weekend at the Merced Theatre. Merced Sun-Star article

Modesto teens give books, reading buddies to budding readers — A Downey High senior hopes free books and stuffed animals together can create something priceless: strong readers. “What’s important about having an animal and a book is that not everyone has someone to read to or someone willing to listen to them read. So they have a forever friend that they can just cherish and read to and hang out with,” said Athena Cole, founder of Book Buddies. Modesto Bee article

Other areas

Merced to swear in new council members at Monday’s meeting — Merced will swear in its new mayor and welcome three new faces to the City Council during Monday’s regular meeting. Councilman Mike Murphy is the mayor-elect, beating out Councilmen Noah Lor and Josh Pedrozo as well as businesswoman Necola Adams in the November election, which was certified this month. Also set to take an oath are teacher Anthony Martinez (District 1), nurse Jill McLeod (District 3) and Merced County Deputy District Attorney Matt Serratto (District 5). Merced Sun-Star article

Stanislaus supervisors to recognize O’Brien’s 12 years on board – At its final meeting of the year Tuesday evening, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors will hold a tribute for Bill O’Brien, who is completing 12 years as the supervisor representing the Riverbank and Oakdale area. Modesto Bee article

New seal on tap for County of Kern, finally — Kern County has unveiled its new seal. Supervisors will vote to approve it, if it’s acceptable, on Tuesday. The new seal is a lot like the old seal, with some updated imagery and a less cluttered design. Bakersfield Californian article

For Ghost Ship rescuers, a scene they can never forget — For days after the Dec. 2 fire, dozens of searchers fulfilled their grim mission in near silence. Some constructed wooden shoring to stabilize areas where the two-story building was collapsing, while others filled five-gallon buckets with blackened lamps, pieces of pallet furniture and horned skull masks while searching for bodies. The work was slow and somber, done mostly by hand, at times with shovels. LA Times article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – We wanted to give President-elect Donald Trump the benefit of the doubt. We hoped he would surround himself with qualified people who could help him govern ethically and effectively.