December 21, 2016


Political Stories –Top stories

California Supreme Court halts death penalty measure — The California Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a voter-approved measure intended to speed up the appeals process for the state’s Death Row inmates to give it time to consider a lawsuit challenging the measure. AP article

California bill would ban marijuana advertising on freeway billboards – tate lawmakers are considering legislation – Assembly Bill 64 – that would amend California’s recently passed Proposition 64 recreational marijuana initiative by imposing stricter rules for marijuana advertising. Sacramento Bee article

Valley politics

Friends, critics look back at eight years of Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin – So how did Swearengin perform as mayor? We asked three guests to share their opinions on Valley Edition. KVPR report

Tulare County names new registrar of voters in wake of Election Day debacle — Tulare County supervisors appointed a new registrar of voters and created a new county department in the wake of what was perceived as an Election Day debacle. Supervisors voted 5-0 Tuesday to create the Department of Registrar of Voters and appointed Michelle Baldwin, chief clerk of the Board of Supervisors, as interim registrar of voters. Fresno Bee article

Protestors descend on McCarthy’s district office — More than 100 people protesting Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s position of the Affordable Care Act rallied outside his Bakersfield district office Tuesday. Activists cited the House majority leader’s support of an ACA repeal as the reason for their protest. Bakersfield Californian article

Five candidates fined for not filing expense forms — Five San Joaquin residents who ran for various seats during the November election have been fined by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for failing to file pre-election campaign statements by Oct. 22. Stockton Record article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

David Schecter: 13 years ago, California had its own ‘Trump moment’ – The vice provost and professor of political science at CSU Bakersfield writes, “If I would have said aloud in early 2007 that Barack Obama would be a two-term president followed by Donald Trump, it would have sounded ridiculous. America’s “Schwarzenegger moment” has just begun.” Schecter op-ed in Fresno Bee

Mulling another run for governor, Tim Donnelly writes a tell-all book — Former GOP Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, the conservative firebrand who ran unsuccessfully for governor and Congress, is out with his first book, a self-published tell-all in which the tea party favorite delves deeply into the highs and lows of his life and unloads on his party’s establishment wing.  Sacramento Bee article


Fresno County sheriff: Allowing ICE agents in the jail could be a model for the nation — The fate of undocumented immigrants is the subject of intense conversation nationally. Deporting millions of people is at the heart of president-elect Donald Trump’s immigration policy. Mr. Trump now says he wants to start by focusing on undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes.  But how to go about finding them? One prominent local leader thinks she has the answer and is already putting it to work. KVPR report

Other areas

Joel Fox: Black Bart Award nominee: Kevin McCarthy – While Trump’s election sent aftershocks through California’s political world, one Californian seems to be in a place to deal with his home state and the new administration in Washington—Republican Congressional Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield. Fox in Fox & Hounds

California secession organizers say they’ve opened an embassy – in Moscow– California gained an embassy in Russia last weekend, at least in the eyes of those who have promised to seek a statewide vote on secession, nicknamed “Calexit,” in 2018. LA Times article

CA prepares for health care battle — The results of a presidential election won by Republican Donald Trump has some in a panic. And with GOP majorities in both houses of Congress, Trump presumably can do just about anything. But California health advocates are not talking about abandoning the state’s healthcare system. They’re preparing for a fight. Capitol Weekly article

As new law looms, business booms for Modesto-area gun shops – Gun shops have been swamped in advance of Wednesday’s cutoff date to buy guns and gun parts that won’t legally be sold in California once the new year starts. Modesto Bee article

Sacramento sheriff will make getting concealed weapons permits even easier to get — Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones has issued more than 7,000 concealed carry weapons permits in the last six years. On Tuesday, he announced a series of new policies that could result in his office issuing permits even faster. Sacramento Bee article

LA County politicians and donors had the most campaign law violations in California this year — Los Angeles County had more cases of politicians and others successfully prosecuted for violating campaign finance and ethics rules than any other county in California this year, the state Fair Political Practices Commission reported Tuesday. LA Times article

Brik McDill: We can choose self-perpetuating hate, or forgiveness — City after city is seeing continuing, if increasing, racial antagonism. Like it or not, agree or not, columnist Danny Morrison was right. During the presidential campaign the scab got pulled off of a deep wound that had been seriously on its way toward healing. We seem now to be going backward. McDill column in Bakersfield Californian

Presidential Politics

California members of Congress petition Trump on climate change and abortion restrictions — Two members of the California congressional delegation, along with other lawmakers, wrote letters to President-elect Donald Trump this week, one warning him against targeting scientists researching climate change and another asking him to eliminate restrictions on federal money being used to provide abortions. LA Times article

Courts could be a firewall if Trump seeks to expand presidential powers – Donald Trump is moving into a White House that has seen presidential powers markedly expanded by its previous two occupants. LA Times article

Tom Arnold says he has footage of Donald Trump saying ‘every dirty, every offensive, racist thing ever’ — Actor Tom Arnold is making waves with recent claims that he has outtakes from “The Apprentice” that feature President-elect Donald Trump using inflammatory language. LA Times article

News Stories

Top Stories

Water debate continues with packed hearing in Modesto – More than 900 people packed a Modesto hearing on increasing river flows Tuesday morning, almost all of them determined to stop the state’s plan. “There is not a single person who lives in this area who will not be harmed by this proposal,” Hilmar area dairy farmer Duane Marson told the State Water Resources Control Board. Modesto Bee articleModesto Bee editorial

Valley air clean-up reaches new phase thanks to intervention from the state – After years of clean-up efforts and some notable progress, air in the San Joaquin Valley is still among the worst in the nation. Now there’s a new goal for cleaning up particulate pollution from things that create dust and exhaust. FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports the effort has reached a new phase thanks to intervention from the state. KVPR report

CalPERS moves to slash investment forecast. That means higher pension contributions are coming – The cost of that government pension is about to go up again, for California taxpayers as well as some public employees. CalPERS moved to slash its official investment forecast Tuesday, a dramatic step that will translate into billions of dollars in higher annual pension contributions from the state, local governments and school districts. Sacramento Bee articleCalpensions article

Jobs and the Economy

Tulare County tackles homeless issue – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved a multi-agency, advisory committee seeking to reduce homelessness. The agency will include county agencies, law enforcement, the Kings-Tulare Homeless Alliance, the housing authority, faith-based organizations, as well as the county’s eight cities, Visalia, Tulare, Porterville, Dinuba, Lindsay, Farmersville, Exeter and Woodlake. Visalia Times-Delta article

Kern County libraries face uncertain 2017 – Most counties and cities in California have seen their budgets recover from depths of the Great Recession. That’s not the case in Kern County though, which relies heavily on taxes from oil. That tension has put a popular public asset in the middle of a years-long fight over its future. In the end, 2017 could be a year a big change for the Kern County’s public libraries. KVPR report

San Jose pension overpayment now includes 300 more workers and another $1 million — The city’s pension plan overpaid hundreds of retired San Jose cops and firefighters a total of nearly $1 million going back at least two decades — setting up a new battle over how the funds will be repaid. San Jose Mercury News article

Raises for state workers: AFSCME latest union to strike deal — A mix of 5,000 California state social and health care workers will get an 11.5 percent raise over the next three years if they approve a contract their union announced this week. Sacramento Bee article

Kern supervisors block Benz sale to Waste Management – Kern County supervisors killed the sale of Benz Sanitation to USA Waste of California Tuesday and directed county staff to launch a forensic audit of the Tehachapi company. Bakersfield Californian article

Stockton Cal Water users to pay more under 3-year rate hike – The average California Water Service Co. customer in Stockton can expect to pay about $4 more per month in 2017, and a total of $9 more per month by 2019, under a three-year rate increase approved by state regulators on Friday. Stockton Record article

Oakland Raiders: Is Lott’s proposal a ‘carbon copy’ of failed attempts? – As city and county officials last week cheered progress with NFL Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott’s effort to keep the Raiders from moving to Las Vegas, a top NFL executive threw cold water on the plan, saying it was no better than an earlier failed Oakland stadium plan known as Coliseum City. San Jose Mercury News article

Google faces potential $3.8 billion lawsuit over internal ‘spying’ program based on workers ratting each other out: report — A Google product manager has filed suit against the company, claiming an internal spying program that relies in part on workers ratting each other out violates California labor law, a new report said. San Jose Mercury News article

Silicon Valley ZIP codes top list of 2016’s highest U.S. home prices — Here’s a migraine for would-be Bay Area homebuyers and a source of probably undeserved self-congratulations for those who bought a place here in, say, the 1990s, and have stuck around to build up some equity: An updated tally of U.S. home prices finds that 38 of the 100 most expensive ZIP codes in the nation are in our nine-county region. KQED report

Millennial workaholics are ‘poisonous’ to companies, survey says – The youngest employees in the workforce are actually the hardest working of any demographic, a new survey from Project: Time Off shows. Millennials are less likely to want to take earned vacation time, making them “work martyrs.” A work martyr is someone who doesn’t want to take time off because no one else can do their job in their absence, they feel guilty for taking vacation, and don’t want to be seen as replaceable or lacking dedication by their boss. McClatchy Newspapers article

Fire strikes Livingstone’s in Tower; owners plan quick reopening – The owners of Livingstone’s, a cornerstone of the Tower District for more than 30 years, are focused on reopening the business on Fern Avenue near Wishon Avenue as quickly as possible after a fire swept through the bar and restaurant early Tuesday morning. Fresno Bee article

Chowchilla touts bump in Q2 sales tax revenue – The City of Chowchilla announced it has seen a notable bump in its sales tax revenue in the second quarter of this year. Sales tax revenue was up 3.1 percent in the second quarter compared to the same quarter of 2015, compared to the Central Valley’s overall growth rate of 1.3 percent, according to a report from MuniServices, a private company used by cities to measure sales tax generation. The Business Journal article

Volkswagen expands buybacks, will pay more for diesel pollution scandal — Volkswagen has agreed to buy back more tainted diesel cars and spend an additional $1 billion to settle the air-pollution scandal that was uncovered by California state scientists, it was announced Tuesday. Sacramento Bee article


Michael Fitzgerald: How to kill fish and hurt people – Saving the Delta requires sacrifice by all, not just residents of this region. I hope someone drilled that idea into the State Water Resources Control Board. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla: Delta tunnels plan lingers dangerously – The executive director of Restore the Delta writes, “Jerry Brown’s bloated and dangerous twin tunnels proposal is not dead yet. California voters rejected the peripheral canal in 1982. But some bad ideas need to be killed twice.” Barrigan-Parrilla op-ed in Stockton Record

Feds pour $225 million into water projects around the U.S. – The federal government will be pouring nearly a quarter-billion dollars into several dozen projects aimed at tackling the effects of drought in the West and restoring watersheds that provide drinking water to communities around the nation. AP article

Public Policy Institute of California blog: A water sector energy hog – When we use water, we’re also using energy—sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Overall, water use accounts for about 20 percent of California’s electricity use and 30 percent of natural gas used by businesses and homes. This energy is used to supply, convey, treat, and heat water. Where does it all go, and more importantly, how can we best save both water and energy? PPIC blog

Dave Cogdill and Joe Grindstaff: Water efficiency must become a permanent California habit – Cogdill, a former state senator and current president and CEO of the California Building Industry Association, and Grindstaff, general manager of the Inland Empire Utilities Agency, write, “Now is the time for Californians to “buckle up” for the future and make greater water efficiency a permanent habit. It’s an opportunity California can’t afford to lose.” Cogdill/Grindstaff op-ed in Sacramento Bee

New lemon import rules leave California growers bitter – A new rule issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to allow the import of lemons from Argentina is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of California lemon growers. McClatchy Newspapers article

Food Commons taking over operations at T&D Willey Farms — Food Commons Fresno is taking the next step in its community owned food system model, taking over operations at T&D Willey Farms in Madera. Fresno Bee article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Tulare County sheriff introduces video visitation in jails – A strong support system is key to the successful rehabilitation of Tulare County inmates. With that in mind, the sheriff’s department is changing the way they let inmates visit with family. Visalia Times-Delta article

LA’s highest-ranking African-American officer to head scandal-plagued San Francisco Police Department — Los Angeles Police Deputy Chief William “Bill” Scott, the department’s highest-ranking African American officer, has been appointed as chief of the San Francisco Police Department following recent scandals involving racist texting among Bay Area officers. LA Times articleAP article

Death penalty in steep decline, but not in LA County — Los Angeles County and the state of California again recorded the most new death sentences this year, amid a sharp decline across the nation in both executions and new death sentences. LA Times article


State awards $20 million in grants to help more school employees become teachers — Twenty-five California school districts and county offices of education will share $20 million in state grants to help their support staff earn teaching credentials. EdSource article

Lois Henry: Helping kids toward a brighter future, one syllable at a time — If it weren’t for this being in the newspaper, 8-year-old Baden Ferguson likely would have little recollection of the extra reading help he’s been receiving this year at Franklin Elementary. Bakersfield Californian article


Valley air district asks Trump for help with Clean Air Act – In a new bid to clean the Valley’s dirty air, the local air district is flexing its political muscles, attempting to amend a federal law and appealing to the Trump transition team for help. KVPR report

Solar growth puts Fresno high-voltage line on hold — The rapid growth of solar power in the central San Joaquin Valley and peak electricity use shifting to later parts of the day are prompting the operators of California’s power grid to reconsider the need for a major transmission line project in Fresno County. Fresno Bee article

Health/Human Services 

Millions more Americans able to afford doctor’s visit under Obamacare, study shows – The Affordable Care Act’s historic expansion of health insurance coverage has brought medical care within reach of millions of Americans who previously couldn’t afford it, new research shows. LA Times article

New law expands access to life-saving drug for those with severe food allergies — Parents with children who suffer from severe food allergies say a new law could save lives because it expands the availability of critical medicine. Epinephrine auto-injectors, commonly known by the brand name EpiPens, were only legally available to individuals and schools K-12. Capital Public Radio report

Shigella cases are way up in Stanislaus County and health officials can’t explain it — Stanislaus County health officials have no specific explanation for a spike in intestinal illness this year that now threatens to ruin the holidays for some folks. Modesto Bee article

Study: Hospitalized elderly have lower death rate when treated by female doctor: Study — In a study that is sure to rile male doctors, Harvard researchers have found that female doctors who care for elderly hospitalized patients get better results. Patients cared for by women were less likely to die or return to the hospital after discharge. NPR report

Other areas

Outgoing Merced County supervisors take with them decades of experience – Tuesday marked an emotional day for the Merced County Board of Supervisors as three members with a combined 40 years of service commemorated their final board meeting. District 1 Supervisor John Pedrozo, District 2 Supervisor Hub Walsh and District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey expressed their gratitude and said their goodbyes at the last session of the year. Merced Sun-Star article

New Merced City Council eager to get to work, calls for residents to be involved – The optimism and enthusiasm ran high this week in the Merced City Council chambers as three new faces joined a new mayor at the dais. Merced Sun-Star article

Kern supervisors honor retiring John Nilon — Kern County Administrative Officer John Nilon used his retirement Tuesday to laud county employees and give his replacement, Ryan Alsop, some advice about the future of Kern County. Nilon is retiring after 31 years as a county planner and administrator. Bakersfield Californian article

Merced Rescue Mission has a new warming center, may be permanent solution — The Merced County Rescue Mission has a new warming shelter that leaders hope will be a lasting solution to a yearly problem. The mission is teaming with DayOut Adult ADHC Center in Merced to provide respite on nights below 40 degrees or during inclement weather, according to Phil Schmauss, director of marketing for the mission. Merced Sun-Star article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Modesto Bee – We hope the state water board left Modesto having heard one message: It won’t be easy taking the water this region depends on.

Sacramento Bee –- We hope Uber pursues its testing in Sacramento, once it obtains the proper permits from the state of California.