December 24, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

Trump presidency presents a challenge for congressmen overseeing U.S. intelligence — The two contrasting Californians who lead House of Representatives oversight of U.S. intelligence operations will be tested as never before once Donald Trump becomes president. The committee’s chairman, Republican Rep. Devin Nunes of Tulare, advises the Trump transition team. The top-ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank, assails the president-elect. Already, the two disagree over how Congress should handle allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. electionMcClatchy Newspapers article

Scandals, surprise squeakers and the ‘Trump effect’: What worked and what flopped in California’s five most expensive House races — California’s most expensive House races included some perennially contested seats as well as sleepy districts that were suddenly thrust into competition based on hopes that having Donald Trump at the top of the GOP ticket would imperil incumbent House Republicans down the ballot. Here’s a look at the most pricey contests. Jeff Denham-Michael Eggman race cited. LA Times article

Gov. Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown pardons 112 ahead of Christmas holiday — In a holiday tradition, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday announced granting 112 pardons and one commutation, mostly for years-old offenses involving marijuana and other drugs and lower-level crimes such as robberies and assaults. Sacramento Bee articleLA Times article

Valley politics

Former San Joaquin County DA candidate dies — Gary Hickey, a veteran prosecutor and defense attorney whose own brushes with the law made headlines during his unsuccessful run for San Joaquin County district attorney in 2014, has died. Stockton Record article


Border Patrol figures show huge drop in Mexicans caught illegally crossing into California — Enough people were caught trying to illegally cross the border from Mexico to California in 1996 to outnumber the population of the city of Sacramento. But last year, the number of California border apprehensions wouldn’t even fill the small town of Lincoln. Sacramento Bee article

Africans, Asians, Haitians: The sharp rise in non-Latin American migrants trying to cross into the U.S. from Mexico — In a surge Mexican officials are calling unprecedented, some 15,000 migrants from outside Latin America passed through Baja California this year — nearly five times the number seen in 2015. LA Times article

Migrants from around the globe are forging a grueling path to the U.S. – through the heart of the rainforest — With migrant ships sinking in the Mediterranean and violent attacks in Europe, a rapidly growing number of migrants from Haiti, Cuba, Asia, Africa and the Middle East are making journeys of unimaginable difficulty up through South and Central America — dreaming of setting foot one day in the United States. LA Times article

Other areas

John Myers: California secession fever is nothing new. There’s a rich history of wanting to splice up the state or split it off — Since 1849, more than 200 efforts have imagined a political do-over to the idea of California as a single, sprawling American state. Every attempt has failed. Myers in LA Times

Necessary evidence or privacy intrusion? This bill is trying to expand DNA evidence collection in California — California lawmakers say they are trying to address an unintended consequence of making theft and drug crimes misdemeanors: a drop in the collection of DNA evidence they say is hurting cold-case investigations. LA Times article

Under the radar: Engrossing and enrolling –There is an important part of the legislative process that occurs out of public sight and is generally not known or understood by many who follow the action in the Capitol. Capitol Weekly article

Presidential Politics

Cathleen Decker: After Clinton’s defeat, what’s the path for future women presidential candidates? – The first woman president was supposed to make history by accumulating such deep experience that few could deny her ability to serve as commander in chief. Hillary Clinton did that, and lost. Now women politicians and those working to elect them — Democrats and Republicans alike — are sifting through her defeat to understand what her loss means for future women candidates and to find a future path. Decker in LA Times

Donald Trump wants a record crowd for his inauguration, but he may be disappointed – Planners who are gearing up for the big day predict that Trump will fall way short of his goal: They’re estimating a crowd of roughly 800,000, fewer than half the 1.8 million people who attended President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009. McClatchy Newspapers article

Barbara Boxer letter to the LA Times: ‘Our democracy depends’ on holding new leaders accountable — Sen. Barbara Boxer, in a farewell letter to the editor, warned of threats faced by the media under incoming President Donald Trump, and urged the media to hold him accountable. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

The hunt for dollars to build the $64-billion bullet train — The California High-Speed Rail Authority quietly approached federal officials in July to discuss an ambitious solution to its most pressing problem, one that has hung over the project for more than five years. The state does not know where to find all of the $64 billion it will cost to get the first passengers rocketing between San Francisco and Los Angeles on a bullet train. LA Times article

Bitwise might add old raisin warehouse to downtown Fresno’s tech revolution — A vacant, 91-year-old warehouse in downtown Fresno may breathe new life as another location of fast-growing technology hub Bitwise Industries. Bitwise Land Company LLC, which involves developer Will Dyck and Bitwise Industries co-CEO Jake Soberal, purchased the building at Ventura and R streets near Highway 41 in late October for a reported $938,000. Fresno Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

Local developers buy East Hills Mall — Local developers Craig and Grant Carver of C & C Properties, Inc. and Chris Hayden and Mark Shuman of MarkChris Investments announced that they have closed escrow Friday on the East Hills Mall, a 414,000-square-foot regional shopping center in northeast Bakersfield. Bakersfield Californian article

Chargers agree to lease in Costa Mesa in case they relocate to LA — The San Diego Chargers have agreed to lease a building and an adjacent parcel of land in Costa Mesa in case they decide to join the Rams and become the second NFL team in Los Angeles, according to documents obtained by The Times. LA Times articleSan Diego Union-Tribune article

Bid-rigging indictment alleges California government contracting scheme – With pricey cases of wine and a source on the inside, a pair of San Francisco software vendors allegedly managed a four-year bid-rigging scheme that steered millions of dollars worth of contracts with California state government to their company. Sacramento Bee article

Nine years later, state wins key verdict over tribal payday lenders – A decade after California financial regulators first went after a pair of online payday lenders with ties to Native American tribes, the California Supreme Court on Thursday handed the state a victory, ruling that case against the lenders can proceed. LA Times article

Attorney general files new charges against executives — California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Friday that her office has filed new criminal charges against Carl Ferrer, chief executive officer of the online advertising website, as well as Michael Lacey and James Larkin, controlling shareholders of Backpage. Sacramento Bee article


Do holiday storms offer glimmer of hope for end of drought? — A cold winter storm swept into the region on Friday and early Saturday, bringing low snow levels and slippery roads on one of the busiest holiday travel periods of the year. While the storm made for dangerous road travel and plenty of airport delays, the wet, snowy weather, following a succession of storms to start the rainy season, was more welcome news as California concludes its fifth consecutive year of drought. Sacramento Bee article

John Fleck: To solve the West’s water problems, California needs to solve the Salton Sea – The director of the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program writes, “Once dreamed of as a Riviera, the Salton Sea has become a decaying, smelly mess largely written off by the state of California. But in the West’s deeply interconnected water system, a decision to accept the Salton Sea’s decline risks not only the resilience of California’s water supplies, but those of 36 million residents of the United States and Mexico.” Fleck op-ed in Sacramento Bee

Some Californians can drink what astronauts drink: Recycled wastewater – The astronauts drink it, so why can’t Californians? We’re not talking about Tang, but purified recycled wastewater. Everything you flush or that goes down that sink or shower drain can be recycled. Technology exists that also allows you to drink it. Sound nasty? Most people think so too. Capital Public Radio report


Stop calling almond, soy and rice milk ‘milk,’ 25 members of Congress say — Got milk? Twenty-five members of Congress say if it’s from soybeans, almond or rice, it should not be labeled as milk. AP article


Criminal Justice/Prisons


Sacramento Bee: Proposition 47: A failure to learn history’s lesson – In their laudable effort to reverse mass incarceration, California policymakers have been too slow to provide felons with necessary care and treatment upon their release. Sacramento Bee editorial


Visalia Times-Delta: California comes up short on Prop 47 promise – Proposition 47 perfectly illustrates the promise and danger of direct democracy in California. Visalia Times-Delta article


Feds had a win streak in LA jails scandal. Then they took on the former boss – The prosecutors worked their way up the chain of command. But when it went after its last and largest target — former Sheriff Lee Baca — the government’s run of wins came to an abrupt end this week. LA Times article


Judge slams DA’s Office mistakes in Carson case as ‘totally unacceptable’ – “How does this happen?” Judge Barbara Zuniga asked that question of Stanislaus County Chief Deputy District Attorney Marlisa Ferreira three times within a minute Thursday morning during the preliminary hearing for Modesto attorney Frank Carson and two co-defendants charged with murder. Modesto Bee article


Exclusive: Guards got tip about suspicious sounds before jail breakout – Before four cellmates cut through solid steel bars and broke out of Santa Clara County’s main jail last month, an inmate in a neighboring cell told at least three guards he heard suspicious sounds, according to sources familiar with the investigation. San Jose Mercury News article


Hanford officer saves a life — When Jonathan Rivera got back from a Southern California family vacation in September, it was back to business as a Hanford Police Department patrol officer. He said nothing to colleagues about saving a girl’s life next to a Best Western swimming pool in Orange. Hanford Sentinel article


Fresno County assistant sheriff says he locked his car, but thief stole guns, armor, ammunition — It was raining when Fresno County Assistant Sheriff Tom Gattie got home from work, so he parked his car in the driveway of his Clovis home, grabbed his briefcase, locked the vehicle and headed inside. Left in the car were a specialty weapon, as well as a shotgun, a handgun, body armor and ammunition. Someone then broke into his vehicle and stole the weapons and other gear. Fresno Bee article




Yosemite Community College District makes it official, comes to terms with new interim chancellor Harmon – As expected, longtime administrator Jane Harmon will take over as interim chancellor for the Yosemite Community College District. She will replace the retiring Joan Smith until a permanent successor is found. Modesto Bee article


New chancellor for West Hills Community College District; new president for Coalinga campus – Stu Van Horn, of West Hills College Coalinga in California, will now serve as chancellor for the West Hills Community College District. Brenda Thames, of Modesto Junior College, will serve as president at the Coalinga campus. Fresno Bee article


UC Merced: Campus community steps up to make a difference this season — From canned food to toys, UC Merced campus members enthusiastically contributed to a host of philanthropic activities this holiday season, all of which benefit the greater Merced community. UC Merced article in Merced Sun-Star


Exclusive: How Zuckerberg and Chan’s new private school mixes health care and education – Toothaches or asthma can cloud the minds of children who are eager to learn, but a new private school started by Dr. Priscilla Chan and her husband, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, might be just what the doctor ordered. San Jose Mercury News article




Edison and SDG&E request delay in talks over San Onofre nuclear plant’s closure – Two utilities want California regulators to delay talks about reopening a case involving the San Onofre nuclear plant until disputes are resolved with the manufacturer of the faulty equipment that led the facility to close. LA Times article


Here’s how Southern California’s air was clearer in 2016 – Southern Californians may be breathing a bit easier. Particle pollution in the region’s ocean-to-mountains air basin exceeded the federal health standard during just 16 days in 2016 – which is less than half the number of violations recorded in each of the previous three years, according to data from the California Air Resources Board. San Bernardino Sun article


A black bear boom has a Tulare County town wondering how residents would get along with grizzlies – It was toward the end of the summer last year that the bears came. Families of them. Droves of them. More of them than most residents of the small Tulare County town of Three Rivers ever had the pleasure of watching frolic in the Kaweah River or the frustration of seeing topple trash cans and break into chicken coops. LA Times article


Health/Human Services 


California hopes $3 billion experiment will improve health of neediest – Riverside County plans to connect former inmates with health clinics and social services. Orange County hopes to get homeless residents into housing — and help them stay there. Placer County is opening a respite center where homeless patients can go after they leave the hospital. Those are just some of the pilot projects in a $3 billion experimental effort officials hope will improve the health of California’s most vulnerable populations. KQED report


Norovirus outbreak under investigation at Clovis nursing home — A norovirus outbreak has been identified at Willow Creek Healthcare Center in Clovis. The Fresno County Department of Public Health on Thursday confirmed the outbreak of the highly contagious virus at the nursing home. Fresno Bee article


Greg Gallion: This nurse understands need for blood all too well – The president and CEO of Houchin Community Blood Bank writes, “Cindy Fisher was entering her senior year of nursing school at Cal State Bakersfield when her world turned upside down. ‘It was one of the best times of my life. I had a new home and hopes of starting a family,’ Fisher recently recalled. “Everything changed when I noticed a dull pain in my knee.’” Gallion op-ed in Bakersfield Californian


More virulent Shigella strain results in 50 hospitalizations in Stanislaus Counth this year – Stanislaus County health officials have shed more light on a surge in Shigella infections this year. In an update, officials said 50 people have been hospitalized for the gastrointestinal illness in the past 12 months. The residents were predominately infected with the Shigella sonnei species that was associated with outbreaks in other California counties in 2014 and 2015. Modesto Bee article


Seven cases of measles reported in LA County — Los Angeles County public health officials said this week that they’re investigating seven cases of measles, a contagious disease that in rare cases can lead to brain damage or death. LA Times article


Land Use/Housing


Kings County’s Quay Valley moves closer to reality — Final plans for Quay Valley, an ambitious 21st century town complete with environmentally sustainable homes, businesses and schools, have been submitted to Kings County planning officials. The Business Journal article


One solution to Southern California’s housing crisis: building in tight space, small lots — Experts say the regional housing shortage also needs to be addressed by building more infill developments in outlying communities, where many families might prefer a town home or small house to an urban high-rise. LA Times article




Uber’s head of self-driving cars helped develop law DMV says the company flouted — A fight with the Department of Motor Vehicles over whether it falls under California rules for testing self-driving cars has forced Uber’s pilot program off the state’s roads. It was Uber’s head of autonomous vehicles who made the initial push for that regulation in 2012, when he held a similar role at Google. Sacramento Bee article


Other areas


‘Clunky’ no more: Fresno launches new ‘grown-up’ city website – If you haven’t visited the city of Fresno’s official website lately, you might do a bit of a double-take next time you see it. Fresno Bee article


Fresno judge Kathleen Meehan named to Fifth District Court of Appeals — Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Meehan as associate justice of the Fifth District Court of Appeal on Friday. Meehan takes the place of Justice Dennis Cornell, who is retiring. The position requires confirmation by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Fresno Bee article


Tokay graduate appointed as judge – Stockton native Gus Correa Barrera II said Friday that he was honored to learn he had been appointed to a judgeship in the San Joaquin County Superior Court. Stockton Record article


Santa Clara County bosses let workers take toys meant for needy kids – Electric toy cars and scooters intended as Christmas presents for poor children were handed out instead to dozens of Santa Clara County employees — and the county executive’s office says they don’t need to return them. San Jose Mercury News article


Family of 20-year-old brings first suit in California fire — The parents of a 20-year-old college student who died in the arms of her boyfriend in Oakland’s deadly warehouse fire filed the first lawsuit Friday in the disaster, blaming the building’s owner, chief tenant and others. AP article


Valley Editorial Roundup


Fresno Bee – Thumbs up, thumbs down; Tell me the truth, is Santa Claus real?


Sacramento Bee –- In their laudable effort to reverse mass incarceration, California policymakers have been too slow to provide felons with necessary care and treatment upon their release; Giving is a bright, shiny gift in itself.