December 20, 2016


Political Stories- Top stories

Cities, counties plan immigrant legal aid after Trump’s win – Major U.S. cities and counties are beefing up legal services for immigrants to help them fight deportation and avoid fraudulent lawyers in the wake of Donald Trump’s election and his hard-line immigration enforcement promises. AP article

Asian American donors are banking on John Chiang making history in bid for governor – In just the first month and a half of his gubernatorial campaign, which he launched in May, Chiang raised close to $2.2 million. The overwhelming majority of his biggest donors, those who cut checks of $10,000 or more, were Asian American business leaders and entrepreneurs. LA Times article

Valley politics

Coalition to protest McCarthy’s stance on ACA — A rally protesting Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s stated intent to work toward repeal of the Affordable Care Act will take place at 10 a.m. Tuesday outside his Bakersfield district office. Activists cited the House majority leader’s support of an ACA repeal with no replacement plan, despite the fact that counties represented by McCarthy have California’s largest Medi-Cal populations and therefore stand to lose the most under any Donald Trump/GOP plan that may be brought forward. Bakersfield Californian article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Trump a template for future CA campaigns? – Politicians, despite the beliefs of many Americans, are not stupid.   They saw what happened.  So now the question that may soon to be bandied about in offices in and around the Capitol is this: in the light of Donald Trump’s victory, will California campaigns now begin to look Trumpesque?  Will cool, blue, coastal California, home of Silicon Valley, start hearing that we need to “Make California Great Again”? Capitol Weekly article

Kamala Harris nabs national security, environmental assignments in U.S. Senate — Sen.-elect Kamala Harris said Monday that her committee assignments in the U.S. Senate will be “key battlegrounds” in next year’s major policy debates on Capitol Hill. LA Times articleSacramento Bee article


Responding to Trump, LA creates $10-million legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation –  In a dramatic response to the expected crackdown on illegal immigration by Donald Trump, Los Angeles leaders on Monday are announcing a new $10-million fund to provide legal assistance for immigrants facing deportation. LA Times article

Other areas

Lawmakers want new tobacco tax money to go toward fixing California’s Denti-Cal program –Republican leaders in the state legislature want Governor Brown to use new tobacco tax money to fix the state’s Denti-Cal program. A state watchdog group called the Denti-Cal program “dysfunctional” in a report earlier this year. Capital Public Radio report

North Carolina limits on transgender rights appear headed for repeal – The North Carolina legislature plans to hold a special session Wednesday to consider fully repealing the contentious law curbing legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The move comes after the Charlotte City Council rescinded a local anti-discrimination ordinance on Monday that had prompted passage of the statewide law in March.  New York Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump officially gets 270th electoral vote, sealing his election as president – Donald Trump has obtained the required 270 electoral votes to become president. Although electors in dozens of states still have to vote, the electoral balloting in Texas put Trump over the majority threshold, according to a state-by-state tally by the Associated Press. LA Times articleNew York Times article

California’s Electoral College goes to Clinton amid protests – California’s 55 Electoral College members cast their votes in favor of Democrat Hillary Clinton and her running mate, Tim Kaine, on Monday as expected in a largely ceremonial proceeding that marked the end of the presidential election season. AP articleSacramento Bee article

Make presidential candidates release their tax returns? Two senators take a shot at it — Two state senators are introducing legislation to require presidential candidates to release their tax returns in order to appear on the California ballot, a direct response to President-elect Donald Trump’s refusal to disclose his tax documents prior to the November election. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Women journalists discuss why Trump won the presidency – It still remains a mystery how Donald J. Trump was able to earn a seat at the White House. And, it still remains puzzling how he was able to become president of the United States given the fact that the majority of Americans didn’t think he had the slightest of chances. Vide en el Valle article

President Obama just granted 231 pardons and commutations – the most ever in a single day — President Barack Obama pardoned 78 people and shortened the sentences of 153 others convicted of federal crimes on Monday – the most individual clemencies ever granted in a single day by any president. As he nears the end of his second term, Obama has issued more commutations than the previous 11 presidents combined, according to the White House. McClatchy Newspapers article

News Stories – Top Stories

Citrus growers spent $25 million protecting crops from cold this weekend – The central San Joaquin Valley’s freeze warning passed Monday after a weekend of freezing temperatures that had citrus growers running wind machines and taking other measures that cost more than $25 million. Fresno Bee article

UC Merced growing faster than other UCs, but demand is still lower — Nearly 20,000 California high school seniors applied to attend UC Merced next fall, a 10 percent increase from the previous year and the biggest rate of growth of any UC campus, according to numbers released Monday. Merced Sun-Star article

Jobs and the Economy

CalPERS opts to keep ban on tobacco stocks – CalPERS said no again to tobacco Monday. Amid a passionate debate on the wisdom and morality of investing in tobacco, the big California pension fund rejected a recommendation by its staff to end its 16-year-old ban on tobacco. CalPERS’ investment committee, in a 9-3 vote, concluded that the tobacco industry is heading toward long-term decline and presents too much of a risk. Sacramento Bee article

Valley home prices mostly up in November, report Realtors – The price of homes sold in the Central Valley were mostly up in November, as were sales, according to new data from the California Association of Realtors.  The Business Journal article

Number of homeless people dying on the streets surges in Sacramento — The number of homeless people dying on the streets, along the riverbanks and under bridges is going up in Sacramento, according to a report released Monday. From 2002 to 2015, a total of 705 men, women and children have died homeless, according to the Sacramento County 2016 Homeless Deaths report. The report notes that the number equates to one person every seven days for the past 14 years. Sacramento Bee article

Fresno County closes in on 1 million residents – Fresno County is closing in on the million-population club, according to state estimates released Monday. California Department of Finance estimates for July 1, 2016, show Fresno County’s population grew 1 percent over 2015 to reach 989,183 residents. The county remains the 10th largest in the state among California’s 58 counties, behind No. 9 Contra Costa at 1,129,894. Los Angeles, with about a quarter of the state’s 39,354,432 population, is the largest. Fresno Bee article

Corcoran voters may have misunderstood Measure T – When 83.5 percent of Corcoran voters overwhelming approved a ballot measure last month clearing the way for the Corcoran Hospital District to sell off its remaining assets, it was the most support received by any measure on the ballot in Kings County. But that sky-high approval rate may have been based at least in part on a misunderstanding. Hanford Sentinel article

Suncrest Bank wraps up its purchase of Valley’s smallest locally owned bank — There is one less Valley-owned bank heading into 2017, as Suncrest Bank of Visalia has completed its acquisition of Fresno-based Security First Bank on Monday. Fresno Bee articleThe Business Journal article

Fire officials: Downtown Merced businesses are a ‘total loss’ after blaze— A fire that tore through a downtown building, destroying two businesses over the weekend, remained under investigation Monday. Merced Sun-Star article

These three U.S. companies moved jobs to Mexico.  Here’s why — Brake Parts Inc. had manufactured brake calipers at a factory in the Central Valley community of Chowchilla for nearly 30 years, but a company executive said pressure was growing to reduce costs as competitors moved their factory work to Mexico. About a year ago, employees got the bad news: Operations were moving to a facility in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. By the time the factory closed in August, about 280 Brake Parts workers had lost their jobs. LA Times article

Tax breaks for second homes could end under lawmaker’s proposal to fund low-income housing – Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill Friday to end a tax break that allows homeowners to deduct the interest from the mortgage on their second home from their state taxes. About 31,000 Californians received the tax break last year, costing the state about $300 million, Chiu said. The bill, AB 71, would direct those funds to an existing program that finances low-income housing construction through tax credits. LA Times article


Fed-up farmers drive tractors to state water hearing — Farmers drove their tractors onto the streets of downtown Merced on Monday to make a statement to the State Water Resources Control Board: They’re fed up. Merced Sun-Star article

Group urges 11th hour shift in plan for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta –The idea of a single tunnel was first proposed in 2013 by a coalition of water agencies and environmental groups led by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Now there’s fresh buzz around the idea after water experts at the Public Policy Institute of California, a prominent think tank, published an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee urging state officials to reconsider the idea. KQED report

Turning cow poo into moo-lah — CH4 Power Inc. partnered with DVO Inc. and uses its original anaerobic digester to design, develop, install and maintain anaerobic digesters customized for each dairy in California. Visalia Times-Delta article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Bakersfield police chief asks FBI to review fatal shooting of unarmed 73-year-old — The new chief of the Bakersfield Police Department has asked the FBI to review the case of a 73-year-old man with early dementia who was shot and killed by an officer just steps from his home last week. LA Times article

Jury: Fresno gang member didn’t commit felony assault by dragging police officer – A Fresno gang member, who police accused of dragging an officer 50 feet with his SUV to avoid an arrest in April 2015, has been found not guilty of felony assault with a deadly weapon. Fresno Bee article

Judicial panel clears California judge who gave lenient sentence in Stanford sexual assault — The Commission on Judicial Performance concluded Monday that a Santa Clara County judge did not engage in judicial misconduct when he gave a lenient sentence to former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner following his conviction for sexual assault. LA Times articleAP article

2 Bakersfield Police Department K9s to receive protective vests — Two police dogs have received new bullet and stab protective vests donated by Kern County organizations and residents, the Bakersfield Police Department announced Monday. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton police reach out to troubled neighborhood – Chilled to the bone late Monday afternoon, Lalonnie Mack was unabashedly appreciative of the Police Department’s latest effort to connect with Cal Park/Magnolia District residents – all its residents. Stockton Record article

Former gang members follow through with his goals — Moments can have such an impact on someone’s life that they are capable of changing it forever. That is true for Pete Duarte. Vida en el Valle article


UC freshman applications shatter records, with gains among all racial groups – The University of California received more than 171,000 freshman applications for fall 2017, marking a new record with gains across all racial and ethnic groups. The applicants included more than 111,600 California high school seniors, a 6% rise over last year, according to prelimary UC data released Monday. Overall, the top campus choice was UCLA, followed by UC San DiegoUC IrvineUC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara.  LA Times article

Stockton teachers strike averted — Christmas came early for hundreds of Stockton Unified teachers: a new contract. The Stockton Teachers Association announced that its bargaining team had reached a tentative agreement late Friday with representatives from the district after 18 months of talks. Stockton Record article

Coalition asks Bakersfield school board to reverse policy on guns on campus — Gerald Cantu, the civic engagement director for the Dolores Huerta Foundation, points to a full-page ad in the Bakersfield Californian paid for by a coalition of advocacy groups. The ad asks the Kern High School District board, which oversees 18 campuses for 35,000 students in and near Bakersfield, to reverse recent votes allowing teachers and nonstaff to carry guns into the classroom. KQED report

West Hills Community College District picks new chancellor – The West Hills Community College District has a new chancellor. WHCCD Chancellor Frank Gornick said the district’s board of trustees selected West Hills College Coalinga Interim President Stuart Van Horn to take the spot. Gornick is retiring after 23 years with the district. Hanford Sentinel article

The UnSchool: The cure for the common classroom tedium? – San Juan Unified is preparing an antidote to traditional education for the bored, disengaged student – an “UnSchool” opening in fall 2017. There will be no school bells, no traditional classrooms and, backers say, no tedium. Sacramento Bee article

New chancellor Elroy Ortiz Oakley shares vision for California community colleges — There’s a new leader for the California community college system, the largest system in the country. Eloy Ortiz Oakley takes over as the new chancellor on Monday, leading a system of 113 colleges that serves 2.1 million students across California. California Economic Summit report


California officials sue over offshore fracking — State Attorney General Kamala Harris and the California Coastal Commission on Monday filed a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s recent finding that fracking off the state’s coast has no significant environmental impact. AP article

Health/Human Services 

California birth rate drops to Great Depression levels — California’s birth rate has fallen to the lowest levels in modern state history, according to new Department of Finance estimates, which peg the state population at 39.4 million after growing by 295,000 from July 1, 2015 to July 1, 2016. Sacramento Bee article

Why is exercise good for us? UC Davis gets $2.3 million to study how it really works inside the human body — We all know exercise is good for us. But how does it really work inside our bodies? That’s the question behind a $2.3 million grant recently awarded to two UC Davis researchers who will study how intense bouts of exercise change the minute, molecular structures inside tissue, muscle and organs. It’s part of a nationwide, six-year study by researchers at more than 20 universities and health research centers, funded by the National Institutes of Health. Sacramento Bee article

Land Use/Housing

William Saroyan’s family home in SE Fresno is for sale — The small southeast Fresno bungalow that was home to famed Armenian-American writer William Saroyan during his teenage years is for sale. Michael Basmajian’s family has owned the 1,448-square-foot home at 3204 E. El Monte Way, just south of Ventura Avenue, since 1945. Saroyan’s mother, Takoohi, bought the house in 1921 and the family lived in it until 1927. Fresno Bee article


LA drivers on the 405 ask: Was $1.6 billion worth it? — Six years after the first bulldozer rolled in, the construction crews are gone. A new car pool lane has opened, along with a network of on- and offramps and three new earthquake-resistant bridges. But the question remains: Was it worth it? New York Times article

Other areas

New council takes the dais in Merced, approves youth pilot program — Merced has three new faces and a new mayor at the dais following Monday’s meeting. Councilman Mike Murphy was sworn in as mayor during Monday’s regular meeting at City Hall. Merced Sun-Star article

Fresno parks chief steps down; search for replacement begins – Manuel Mollinedo, who brought an awareness of community diversity and helped the city reach an agreement with local schools to open playgrounds to the public on weekends, has resigned as director of Fresno’s Parks, After-School, Recreation and Community Services Department. Fresno Bee article

Carmen George: No longer behind bars, teens share first real Christmas at Valley Teen Ranch — A teenage boy stares silently at a teddy bear for several long moments during a Christmas party at Valley Teen Ranch last week before a softness creeps into his face. The gift stuns him at first, but it’s not stifled disappointment. This is alien territory for a child who trained himself to act tough through months of lonely nights in a sparse juvenile hall cell devoid of stuffed animals. George in Fresno Bee

Family of homeless man run over by vehicle in Modesto looks for answers — The family of Nicholas Dale Kliewer wants to know if the driver of a black Saturn was drunk when he hit him as he crossed Sylvan Avenue in Modesto early Saturday morning. They want to know if Kliewer was killed upon the first impact or after the driver backed over him as he fled the scene. Modesto Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno 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.

Sacramento Bee –- DeMarcus Cousins is too big for Kings to keep babying.

Stockton Record – Cheers and jeers: Our community’s spirit of giving, advocates bring joy and other issues.