December 23, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

California and the feds: presidential picks aside, money matters – California and some other parts of the U.S. are in different political orbits when it comes to presidential picks. But the nation’s largest state and the federal government are more deeply entwined than ever on tax, spending and other fiscal matters. Sacramento Bee article

From football to taxes: How California’s ban on travel to bathroom-bill states will play out in 2017 — California’s ban has exemptions for just about every kind of serious state business, allowing state employees to testify in lawsuits, or the state’s two tax boards to travel for audits. Police, too, can run down leads in banned states. But California’s public universities will have to avoid athletic competitions in a group of states that as of this week likely will include Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee, according to a memo from Attorney General Kamala Harris. The law also will block state employees from attending most conferences, and it’ll curtail other kinds of discretionary travel among state universities. Sacramento Bee article

Other areas

New state alcohol laws ban powdered booze, but allow sipping in a beauty salon – New booze laws on the books in California next year will ban powdered alcohol, allow a glass of wine or beer with a haircut and make it OK to bring some home brew to a bar under certain circumstances. Sacramento Bee article

Joel Fox: Black Bart Award Winner 2016: Kamala Harris, symbol of new Democrats — The consensus pick for the 8th annual Fox and Hounds Daily’s Black Bart Award is soon to be U.S. Senator Kamala Harris. She took the prize not only for her achievement of capturing the senate seat vacated by Barbara Boxer, setting herself up as a prime antagonist to the potential moves of the new administration, but also as a symbol. Kamala Harris represents a changing of the guard in California politics. Fox in Fox & Hounds

Presidential Politics

Hope, fear and low expectation in Trump-friendly Central Valley – There was never really any doubt that California would end up in Hillary Clinton’s column in last month’s election. But Donald Trump did manage to carry two dozen California counties, almost all of them rural. I visited one of them — Kings County in the southern San Joaquin Valley — to hear what voters there expect from the new president. KQED report

Trump seeks path for Mexico barrier. But will it be a ‘big, beautiful wall’? – President-elect Donald J. Trump’s transition team has asked federal border protection officials for guidance on where a new wall separating the United States from Mexico — a signature promise of Mr. Trump’s campaign — can be erected, according to a Democratic congressman from Texas who opposes the idea. But the officials exploring possible paths for such a barrier also appear to be considering fencing and other options short of the “big, beautiful wall” that Mr. Trump regularly vowed to erect, at Mexico’s expense, along a border of more than 1,900 miles. New York Times article

Democrats launch a war to save Obamacare – The war to save Obamacare is on. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has written a holiday letter to colleagues outlining three steps aimed at building public pressure to block Republican attempts to repeal key provisions of the 2010 health care law. McClatchy Newspapers article

Danny Morrison: Are you sure you want to repeal Obamacare, Kern County? — Is it even realistic to believe that Trump and a Republican majority could overturn a federal statute that has given health care to an additional 23 million people? Is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell bold enough to take health insurance benefits from more than 200,000 residents in his home state of Kentucky? And what would the repercussions be to beneficiaries of Obamacare in Kern County if Republicans are successful? Allow me to paint the picture. Morrison column in Bakersfield Californian

Victor Davis Hanson: Trump pounds final nail into mainstream media’s coffin – President-elect Donald Trump probably will not often communicate with the nation via traditional press conferences. Nor will Trump likely field many questions from New York/Washington journalists. What we know as “the media” never imagined a Trump victory. It has become unhinged at the reality of a Trump presidency.  Hanson column in Fresno Bee

Trump won votes promising to protect veterans, but major veterans groups are rattled by his plans – Donald Trump’s flair for connecting with veterans won him an overwhelming share of their votes, but the durability of the alliance is already being tested as Trump’s search for a Veterans Affairs secretary veers in a direction that has alarmed some of America’s most influential retired soldiers. LA Times article

Merced County Sheriff’s Posse raising funds to attend presidential inauguration — The Merced County Sheriff’s Posse will travel across the country next month to be part of the presidential inauguration in Washington, D.C., Sheriff Vern Warnke announced Thursday in front of the Courthouse Museum. Merced Sun-Star article

Trump’s team singles out State Department programs for women for special review – Donald Trump’s transition team has asked the State Department for details on programs aimed at benefiting women around the world, including a list of positions that focused on reducing gender-based violence and promoting women in the workplace. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

With environmental review finalized, could construction of the Delta tunnels begin in 2018? — After years of planning, officials have finalized all 97,000 pages of environmental documents to support Gov. Jerry Brown’s controversial plan to build two massive tunnels through the heart of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Sacramento Bee articleAP articleStockton Record articleLA Times article

Attorney General investigating Bakersfield Police Department, Kern Sheriff’s Office — California Attorney General Kamala Harris Thursday launched civil rights violation investigations into the Bakersfield Police Department and Kern County Sheriff’s Office. A press release from Harris’ office stated both agencies will be investigated for “a pattern and practice of excessive force” and related issues. The investigation will be civil, not criminal. Bakersfield Californian articleAP articleThe Guardian articleLA Times article

Jobs and the Economy

Workers can’t be on call during rest breaks, California high court rules – Employers in California can’t keep their workers on call during short rest breaks and must give up any control over how they spend that time, the state Supreme Court said Thursday in a case that pitted labor activists against business groups. AP article

The days of stay-at-home moms are ‘long gone,’ report finds –  The days of stay-at-home mothers are behind us, says a new report from the Center for American Progress, which analyzed national labor data and found that, across the country, the share of moms who financially support their families continues to grow. LA Times article

Google’s self-driving car plans revealed in patent applications – Several patent applications from Google made public Dec. 22 provide a window into the secretive self-driving car program the firm just spun off as a separate business called Waymo. San Jose Mercury News article

Business owners say there isn’t enough light on 8th Street — After a string of break-ins on Eighth Street between Douty and Harris streets, employees and business owners there are putting part of the blame on what they feel is a lack of adequate street-lighting. Hanford Sentinel article

For homeless families, finding a home is give and take — There are nearly 2,000 homeless schoolchildren in San Francisco. Earlier this month, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee made a bold promise to get most of them — and their families — into permanent housing by 2020. To do it, he’s asking schools to refer homeless parents to Hamilton Families, a local nonprofit. KQED report

El Premio Mayor offers free tacos to homeless in downtown Fresno — El Premio Mayor partnered with the Fresno Grizzlies and the organizers of the Taco Truck Throwdown to help feed the homeless Thursday night. The group caravanned through downtown Fresno, stopping at several sites where the homeless typically gather. Along with the tacos, the group handed out blankets and socks. There were even a few Fresno Taco sweaters. Fresno Bee article


Law to increase water storage in Merced greeted with praise and thanks – Looking over the water flowing down Bear Creek on Thursday, area leaders touted a new law signed by President Barack Obama that they say will go a long way toward helping in the driest of years. Merced Sun-Star article

Farmers score in battle over diverting Klamath River water for endangered species — Northern California and Oregon irrigation districts have won a key round in a long-running legal battle as they seek compensation for their loss of water in the Klamath River Basin. Sacramento Bee article

Blue Diamond sets revenue record amid year of declining almond prices — Even amid falling almond prices, Sacramento-based Blue Diamond Growers managed to squeeze another record revenue year. Blue Diamond spokeswoman Alicia Rockwell confirmed this week that global almond sales revenue totaled an all-time high of $1.67 billion for the crop year ending in August, just edging $1.65 billion amassed the previous year. Sacramento Bee article

Vance Kennedy: State should give us time to learn more about our groundwater – The retired hydrology scientists with the U.S. Geological Service writes, “I attended part of the State Water Resources Control Board hearing in Modesto on Tuesday, and made a brief comment on what I think is a very important need the board should consider in determining the quantity of flows on our rivers. We must know how surface water and groundwater interact so that we can accurately and believably predict how the board’s actions will impact, perhaps even harm, our interests.” Kennedy op-ed in Modesto Bee

Heavy rain might be a sign of wetter times to come in drought-plagued LA — There’s something unusual in the mix in Southern California this weekend, along with the usual rain-caused traffic gridlock and airport delays, according to one climatologist — a sense of optimism. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Questions follow fatal officer-involved shooting — Many questions remained unanswered Thursday after a deputy from the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office fatally shot a man Wednesday evening on an east Stockton street. Stockton Record article

Prosecutors: Deputies not criminally liable in man’s in-custody death – The Kern County District Attorney’s office has found deputies were justified in forcing a man to the ground inside a “sobering cell” at the downtown jail and are not criminally liable in his death. Bakersfield Californian article

The Rev. Larry Thomas: Body camera policy lacking in transparency – The Stockton pastor writes, “With all of the funds spent on the body cams, according to the article, Stockton Police Chief Eric Jones said the policy will allow him to release footage from critical incidents at his discretion when circumstances present a “compelling and pressing public interest.” If our “god emperor chief” will decide what we should know, what happens to transparency?” Thomas op-ed in Stockton Record

Fernando Jara: Let’s step up police training process – The research assistant at Claremont School of Theology writes, “City Council members need an outside consultant to first evaluate the competency of range-masters, weapons instructors, and training mechanisms followed by improvements in training technology and methodology. I believe our law enforcement personnel are professionals. They will meet the standards of advanced training if given the opportunity.” Jara op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

William Bezdek: Police error, medical error: Both require healing – The retired Bakersfield physician writes, “Four letters to the editor concerning the recent police shooting of Francisco Serna, a citizen with early dementia who was wandering in his neighborhood late one night, appeared in The Californian on Dec. 18. The first blames Mr. Serna’s caretakers for allowing him to wander unescorted. The second letter blames the Bakersfield Police Department and the officer who fired. The third blames the victim for not following police instructions. None of the three mention the demented individual’s ability to understand police commands. The fourth injects the personal view of a widow who lost her husband to dementia. She blames the family for inadequate supervision.” Bezdek op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Details emerge over judge’s stunning release accused Modesto attorney, 2 others – Prominent Modesto attorney Frank Carson and two co-defendants charged with murder walked out of Stanislaus County Jail Thursday evening after an angry judge blasted prosecutors and released them pending the completion of their preliminary hearing. Modesto Bee article

The Baca mistrial explained: What you need to know about the former sheriff’s case – On Thursday, a jury deadlocked on whether former Sheriff Lee Baca  tried to obstruct an FBI investigation into allegations of abuse and other misconduct by his jail deputies. That led the judge to declare a mistrial. Here’s a breakdown of the issues in the case. LA Times article

Riot involving 100 prisoners rocks California prison — California officials say four inmates were hospitalized following a riot involving about 100 prisoners at the California Correctional Center in Susanville.  AP article

Man accused of throwing drink at Sikh takes plea deal — A Bakersfield man accused of throwing a drink at a Sikh man outside a California Avenue restaurant pleaded no contest Thursday to charges of misdemeanor battery and violating civil rights by force or threat of force. David Scott Hook was sentenced to three years’ probation, according to court records. The civil rights charge falls under the legal category of a hate crime. Bakersfield Californian article


First meeting between Hanson and new Fresno Unified leadership ends abruptly – Outgoing Fresno Unified Superintendent Michael Hanson and newly elected school board President Brooke Ashjian may have a tough time working together during Hanson’s final months at the helm of the district. Hanson’s first meeting with Ashjian as board president – he is among Hanson’s biggest critics – and new board secretary Claudia Cazares was cut short last week due to a disagreement. Fresno Bee article

Sonya Christian, Horace Mitchell, and Byron Schaefer: A shared challenge, a shared goal, a shared promise – Bakersfield College President Christian, CSU Bakersfield President Mitchell and Kern High School District Superintendent Schaefer write, “Kern County’s educational partners have never been more connected, more efficient, more effective, or more collaborative than now. Students have even greater access to college, and more students are college and career-ready as they leave the KHSD. College transfer rates from Bakersfield College to CSU Bakersfield have increased significantly, and collaboration with business and industry has strengthened and expanded to create a strong and educated workforce.” Christian/Mitchell/Schaefer op-ed in Bakersfield Californian

Dan Waterhouse: I’m back at Fresno State, and it has changed – for the better – The devoted Bulldog and Fresno resident writes, “A big difference between my contemporaries in the 1970s and 1980s vs. 2016 is the drive they have today, even when they’re having fun. They know that they have to set themselves apart from the rest of the pack to prosper. Many of today’s students aren’t primarily motivated by money. Fresno State students (and staff members) contribute an average of 1 million hours of service to the community every year. That may stem from the fact that 75 percent of Fresno State students are first-generation college-goers, and there is also Fresno State’s institutional focus on the value of volunteering.” Waterhouse op-ed in Fresno Bee

School bus company to pay about $90,000 in sex discrimination and retaliation case — A company that provides buses and other services for several school districts in southern Fresno County will pay $89,691 in a sex discrimination and retaliation case. Fresno Bee article

Sierra Nevada Brewing founder donates $2 million toward full-time brewer at UC Davis — UC Davis is toasting Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. founder Ken Grossman after he and his wife, Katie Gonser, presented the university with $2 million for the campus’ brewing science program. Sacramento Bee article

Delaine Easton: State should not be a Scrooge when it comes to educating our young people – The former Superintendent of Public Instruction writes, “We must act now for the future. It is my hope that the leadership of both political parties will come together on behalf of California and its children – and dream of a future where all children have a future full of possibilities, as I did.” Easton op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Teacher traveled statewide to capture the spark in California classrooms — David B. Cohen, a veteran English teacher at Palo Alto High and columnist for Education Week, spent a year crisscrossing California observing some of the state’s best teachers. EdSource article

NCAA alleges 10 violations at Pacific — The NCAA has issued a notice of allegations to University of the Pacific, citing 10 potential violations that occurred in the athletics department during the 2011-12 academic year and the summer of 2014. Stockton Record article


Refining company reportedly backs away from California oil train lawsuit — Valero Refining Co. appears to have backed away from its threat to sue Benicia over that city’s refusal to allow the company to bring oil to its bayside refinery via trains. Two 50-car oil trains a day would have traveled through Northern California, including Sacramento, Davis, West Sacramento, Roseville and Dixon. Sacramento Bee article

Erskine Fire caused by power line, officials say – The most devastating fire in Kern County history was caused by a private power line that wore down over time as it rubbed against a tree, Kern County Fire officials said Thursday. Bakersfield Californian articleAP article

Michael Fitzgerald: Oaks: An ode to ancient neighbors — Today: life under oaks. Several valley oaks (Quercus lobata) tower over my front yard. One is merely big. Two are immense, so big they may have been around before the Gold Rush. Fitzgerald in Stockton Record

Health/Human Services 

In cancer trials, a lopsided shot at hope for minorities – As immunotherapy research takes off, the patients getting the treatment have been overwhelmingly white. Researchers know this and say they are trying to correct it. New York Times article

Victor Carrion: Figuring out how to better help mentally ill before they land in jail – The chairman of the California Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission writes, “People struggling with mental illness do not belong in jail, and we must work to prevent so many of our most vulnerable Californians from this inhumane fate. Fortunately, momentum is building on multiple fronts. Our commission is immersed in a yearlong project examining how well California is serving adults with mental health needs and how we can better help them before they land in jail.” Carrion op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Stem cell agency: No giveaways in $150 million plan — The president of the California stem cell agency, Randy Mills, yesterday said that the firms that responded to an ambitious proposal to create a $150 million public/private partnership were seeking to make a “better deal” than the agency had offered. Capitol Weekly article


Kern County renews high-speed rail battle — Kings County is again at odds with the California High Speed Rail Authority, joining a lawsuit filed Dec. 12 in Superior Court of California in Sacramento that would block the Authority from using Prop 1A monies to help build the Central Valley line. That includes about 30 miles through Kings County. Hanford Sentinel article

Uber moves self-driving cars from California to Arizona — A fleet of self-driving Uber cars left for Arizona on Thursday after they were banned from California roads over safety concerns. AP article

New year, new driving laws — Many will be ringing in New Year’s with confetti and a countdown, but law enforcement will be doing things a little differently. Starting Jan. 1, officers will be looking for motorists breaking new or amended driving laws. Visalia Times-Delta article

Other areas 

Why the ‘Ghost Ship’ was invisible in Oakland, until 36 died — A criminal investigation led by the Alameda County district attorney is now underway into the liability of the owner of the property, the master tenant who essentially ran the warehouse, and others. But dozens of interviews and a review of documents show that the fire was a disaster waiting to happen, a deadly mix of a flawed safety inspection system and a shortage of affordable housing that led tenants to live in a building that was never intended to be a residence. New York Times article

The fastest growing county in California is … Yolo? — During another year of historically slow growth across the state, it doesn’t take much to stand out. Earlier this week, the state Department of Finance reported that Yolo County’s population grew faster than in any other county in California. Yolo added about 4,000 people, for a growth rate of about 2 percent, between July 2015 and July 2016. Sacramento Bee article

Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – Be a community angel and give the best gift of all – blood.

Sacramento Bee –- Faster gun permits in Sacramento County aren’t worth the risk.