December 22, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Dan Morain: Jerry Brown plunges ahead on twin tunnels — Jerry Brown is jumping into the deep end, and he’s asking the rest of us to take a leap with him. Morain in Sacramento Bee

Gov. Brown forgives more felons in past 6 years than were pardoned in previous 30 — He has granted more than 700 pardons since 2011, many for drug crimes—a stark contrast to his recent predecessors. Between 1991 and 2010, three California governors granted a total of just 28 pardons. Brown’s pattern resembles those of earlier governors from both political parties; his father Pat Brown, a Democrat, and Republican Ronald Reagan each granted a few hundred pardons. CALmatters article

California schools chief wants districts to ignore immigration status as ‘safe havens’ – State education chief Tom Torlakson on Wednesday urged school districts to declare themselves “safe havens” that avoid seeking the immigration status of students and suggested that they follow the lead of the Sacramento City Unified School District. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Statewide politics/Ballot Measures

Senate leader Kevin de Leon announces committee assignments, leadership posts — California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León released committee assignments and floor leadership posts for the upcoming session Wednesday, shuffling the chairmanships of some influential panels. Sacramento Bee article

Robin Abcarian: Is marijuana legalization in California the beginning of the end of the war on weed? —  The door to legalized marijuana in California cracked ajar in 1996, when voters approved the Compassionate Use Act, which allowed doctors to recommend cannabis to their patients. Abcarian in LA Times

Other areas

California lawmakers try again to expand DNA evidence collection — California lawmakers are once again trying to expand the collection of DNA evidence in criminal cases, something they say has declined under Proposition 47, hurting cold rape and murder investigations. LA Times article

Pot ads along highways? Lawmakers wrangle over legalization’s consequences — Five state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would bar advertisements for marijuana products and services from all 265 state highways — 15,100 miles of roadway — in an effort to prevent the marketing of pot to minors in the state. LA Times article

Why are California Republicans prioritizing dental care for the poor? — Democrats have traditionally been the ones to champion health care programs for low-income Californians. But this month, Republicans proposed a bill that would put $200 million dollars toward improving Denti-Cal, the state’s free dental care program for the poor.  KQED report

North Carolina fails to repeal bathroom law that prompted boycotts — After more than nine hours of closed-door meetings, jawboning and complicated legislative stratagems, North Carolina legislators went home in frustration Wednesday after failing to repeal the state law that has prompted economic boycottslawsuitspolitical acrimony and contributed to the defeat of the Republican governor.  New York Times article

Health exchange enrollment jump, even as GOP pledges repeal — About 6.4 million people have signed up for health insurance next year under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration said Wednesday, as people rushed to purchase plans regardless of Republican promises that the law will be repealed within months. New York Times article

Presidential Politics

Meet Donald Trump’s newest nemesis: Xavier Becerra, son of immigrants — Xavier Becerra was in class at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento when he saw a buddy who’d just bungled an exam getting ready to toss something in the trash.  McClatchy Newspapers article

Cathleen Decker: American voters wanted change in 2016, but will they get the change they wanted? – The question for 2017: Is the change Americans get the change they wanted? As the new year approaches, mixed signals abound. Decker in LA Times

Trump stops the ‘drain the swamp’ talk as new alligators emerge — It made for a great slogan during the campaign, but now that he’s won, Donald Trump is finding that maybe he doesn’t actually want to “drain the swamp.” In fact, the alligators seem to be doing quite well. LA Times articleAP article

Here’s where California voters were most dissatisfied with choices for president — About 430,000 Californians voted in the November election but did not cast a valid vote for president, according to new, final election results. Sacramento Bee article

San Diego judge Oks $25-million Trump University settlement – A San Diego federal judge has approved the $25-million Trump University settlement, allowing the process of notifying class members to begin. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

State Water Project customers will get bigger allocation due to winter’s wet start — California officials, acknowledging the wet start to winter, on Wednesday more than doubled the expected allocation of water from the State Water Project. The Department of Water Resources said customers can expect to receive 45 percent of what they’ve requested in 2017. That compared with the initial allocation of 20 percent a few weeks ago. Sacramento Bee article

How state and local governments will be affected by CalPERS’ trimmed investment expectations — Pension costs for state and local government will begin to rise in 2017 after CalPERS officials voted to throttle back the expectations on profits earned from its $299 billion portfolio. LA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Half of UC Merced’s business spending goes to Merced; not so much in construction – UC Merced has directly contributed more than $1.4 billion to the San Joaquin Valley economy to date, and more than $2.6 billion to the state’s economy, according to a report released Wednesday by the university. Merced Sun-Star article

City manager: Stockton prepared for CalPERS change – Stockton City Manager Kurt Wilson said it was no surprise the state’s retirement investment forecast was reduced this week. But he and other city managers throughout California were expecting a reduction from 7.5 percent to only 7.25. Stockton Record article

The Wonderful Company awards over $400,000 to Valley nonprofits — Wonderful Community Grants, a program funded by The Wonderful Company and its owners Lynda and Stewart Resnick to maximize the impact provided by community organizations in Avenal, Sanger/Del Rey, and Wasco, announced that over $400,000 has been awarded to 19 nonprofits to fund projects and programs of assistance to local residents. The Wonderful Company news release

California treasurer accuses 2 public pension funds of ‘craven greed’ in affordable housing fight – California Treasurer John Chiang on Wednesday slammed two out-of-state public pension funds for what he called a shameful ploy to eliminate 79 affordable housing units in a massive San Fernando Valley housing complex. LA Times article

Beer meets almond brittle, and See’s opens up shop in Turlock — Two local favorites, Dust Bowl Brewing and Stewart & Jasper Orchards, have teamed up to bring you Taco Truck Almond Beer Brittle. Yes, Taco Truck is a beer and almond brittle is a sweet dessert. But the two actually make a terrific combination. Modesto Bee article

Walmart removes ‘Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter’ shirt after police complaint — -Walmart has agreed to remove T-shirts and sweatshirts that say “Bulletproof: Black Lives Matter” from its website after a complaint from the president of the country’s largest police organization, but the retailer said it would not remove those that say only “Black Lives Matter.” LA Times article


Clovis wins $22 million against Shell Oil over toxic drinking water — The city of Clovis won its more than three-month-long civil trial against chemical manufacturing giant Shell Oil Co. over the cleanup of a toxic chemical found in drinking-water wells around the city of 108,000 people. Fresno Bee article

Talking about the future of California water in the face of climate change — In California, a state that has already seen the impacts of climate change and has been a leader when it comes to efforts to slow its pace and mitigate its results, many are wondering what the new direction on the federal level will mean for the state. KQED report

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Sheriff’s SWAT deputy kills Riverside murder suspect in Coalinga gunbattle — A man sought in a double homicide in Riverside was shot and killed by a Fresno County sheriff’s deputy Wednesday in Coalinga after he stormed out of a home firing a handgun at a SWAT team, a sheriff’s spokesman said. Fresno Bee articleLA Times article

Knife-wielding man shot, killed by deputy – A man was fatally shot by a deputy from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday evening in east Stockton. Stockton Record article

DA: Taxi driver was on meth — The taxi driver accused of slamming into a pedestrian in downtown Visalia was high on methamphetamine, according to prosecutors. Visalia Times-Delta article


CalPERS cuts earnings forecast; school districts to pay more for pensions – School districts, already bracing for record pension contributions for school employees, will face additional costs they hadn’t expected as a result of a decision Wednesday by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System. EdSource article

Teen suicide clusters prompt mandate for California schools to confront taboo topic – Assembly Bill 2246, authored by Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, D-Long Beach, requires districts to adopt suicide prevention policies that target high-risk groups, such as students bereaved by a classmate’s death and LGBTQ youth. It was inspired by teen suicide clusters that have traumatized Palo Alto and San Diego in recent years. CALmatters article

District Attorney to Fresno Unified school board: Keep quiet about confidential matters — The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office has warned the Fresno Unified school board to comply with state laws that keep closed meetings confidential. Fresno Bee article

Brenda Lewis: Kern High School District students increasingly ready for next step —  The assistant superintendent of instruction for the Kern High School District writes, “Each day, Kern County classrooms are filled with qualified and caring teachers who provide students with high-quality opportunities to learn. In the Kern High School District, these opportunities are particularly designed to ensure that students are college and career ready.” Lewis op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

More than a million California children missing out on state subsidized child care – Only one in seven California children who qualify for subsidized child care received services from state programs in 2015, according to a December report from the California Budget and Policy Center. Of the state’s estimated 1.5 million children – newborns to 12-year-olds – who are eligible for subsidized child care, only 218,000 were enrolled in programs, the report states. EdSource article

California appeals federal decision on state science testing — California education officials have appealed the U.S. Department of Education’s decision to reject the state’s request to begin phasing in tests this spring based on new science standards, rather than administer current tests based on standards in place since 1998. EdSource article

The educators trying to fix California’s ‘broken’ remedial education system – Like thousands of other students at West L.A. College in Culver City, Isaac Elimimian had to take a test to help determine if he was ready to do college-level work. KPCC report

Stockton kids aiming high — Wilisha Beatty-Cherry is inspired by Stockton’s youth. The leadership they demonstrate while attending school, taking care of their families and sometimes having to work, all while handling the weight of societal problems and pressures, is impressive to her. Stockton Record article


Spiking temperatures in the Arctic startle scientists — A spate of extreme warmth in the Arctic over the past two months has startled scientists, who warn that the high temperatures may lead to record-low ice coverage next summer and even more warming in a region that is already among the hardest hit by climate changeNew York Times article

Health/Human Services 

Fresno County health, education leaders meet to fight teen suicide – Faced with a big jump in suicides by young people this year in Fresno County, local school districts, hospitals, government agencies and law enforcement met Wednesday to begin addressing how to best handle mental health issues and ensure each agency has the ability to help those in need – especially children. Fresno Bee article

State report: Millennials tied to California birth rate falling to all-time low — California’s birth rate has reached a historic low, according to newly released data from the state Department of Finance, a trend demographers say is driven largely by millennials putting off parenthood to finish college and launch careers. East Bay Times article

How 4 drug companies rapidly raised prices on life-saving drugs – A U.S. Senate committee detailed in an investigative report Wednesday how drug companies were exploiting the market by acquiring decades-old crucial medicines and suddenly raising their prices astronomically. LA Times article

Right to try gives terminally ill options without FDA approval — A new law allowing terminally ill patients the chance to try treatments not yet approved by the federal government begins Jan. 1. Capital Public Radio report

Land Use/Housing

HUD renews funding for CSET program – HUD recently awarded more than $16 million in Continuum of Care grant money to 111 local homeless housing and service programs. Community Service Employment Training, CSET, was one of the agencies that received a renewal grant for its Permanent Supportive Housing program. Visalia Times-Delta article

San Diego mayor asks landlords to participate in program to house homeless veterans — More than 700 homeless veterans have been enrolled in the city of San Diego’s “Housing Our Heroes” campaign since it began in March of last year, Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Wednesday in urging landlords to take part in the program. KPBS report


Tulare County to receive reimbursement from high-speed rail — The county may receive as much $412,000 from the California High-Speed Rail Authority for review design and work related to the rail line. Visalia Times-Delta article

California puts brakes on Uber’s self-driving car rollout — California has put the brakes on Uber’s weeklong experiment with using self-driving cars on the streets of San Francisco. AP article

New law requires comprehensive background checks on Uber, Lyft drivers — People in California who drive for Uber, Lyft and other ride-booking companies will face more extensive background checks in the New Year. Capital Public Radio report

Other areas

Who wants to be a Livingston council member? City’s staff to find out – In one of their first acts as a new board, Livingston City Council members took steps this week toward filling a seat left vacant after an election winner resigned this month. Merced Sun-Star article

Kings County fire stations now ‘safe surrender’ sites — Kings County residents making the difficult decision to surrender a newborn child now have more options, with all county fire stations now designated as “safe surrender sites.” Hanford Sentinel article

Valley Editorial Roundup

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

Merced Sun-Star – The one message delivered with certainty to the State Water Resources Control Board in Merced on Monday was this: If the state tries to force twice as much water down the Merced River for environmental purposes, the people of Merced will fight.

Sacramento Bee –- When nonprofits like Courage House get in trouble, it hurts all philanthropic efforts. Give, but verify.