December 25, 2016


Political Stories – Top stories

California’s new laws in 2017: Drivers can’t hold phones, barber shops can serve wine — On New Year’s Day, Californians will wake up to hundreds of new laws, governing everything from the size of our paychecks to the rights of beauty salons to serve booze as they cultivate our coiffure. But some of the higher-profile laws among the 898 bills that Gov. Jerry Brown signed this year will symbolize what’s sure to be a recurring theme in the new year: just how different the Golden State is from most of the rest of incoming President Donald Trump’s America. San Jose Mercury News article

After 24 years working together, Feinstein and Boxer say goodbye to their ‘Thelms and Louise’ friendship – In 1992, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer pitched themselves to California voters as the dynamic duo, as “Thelma and Louise,” as “Cagney and Lacey. ”They were trying to convince voters to do something no state had ever done: Elect two women to represent them in the U.S. Senate. LA Times article

Presidential Politics

Trump announces he will close controversial charitable foundation — President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday announced he was dissolving his controversial foundation, which claimed to raise money for charitable causes but has been accused of improperly using funds. LA Times article

News Stories – Top Stories

Quay Valley, new town in the heart of California, gets a push from developer – Quay Valley, a proposed master-planned community in Kings County along Interstate 5 north of the Kern County line, is moving closer to the environmental review stage and possibly closer to reality. Fresno Bee article

California state firefighters gain 11 to 18 percent raises in proposed  contract – State firefighters got an early Christmas present with the news that their union reached a tentative agreement with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as Cal Fire, for a four-year contract offering raises in a range of 11 to 18 percent. Sacramento Bee article

Jobs and the Economy

In American towns, private profits from private works – Towns have turned to private equity firms to manage their waterworks, which bring upgrades, but can carry hefty price tags. New York Times article

What’s next for Hanford Costco center? – Now that Costco is up and running, workers are well into the process of putting up a building that will house the next businesses to open in the much-anticipated shopping center at Highways 198 and 43. The structure will hold Starbucks, Verizon, Subway and a sushi restaurant. Hanford Sentinel article

Downtown arena, housing market rebound, VW scandal top local business stories of 2016 – The opening of a palatial, technology-laden arena that many would have been considered a grandiose pipe dream just a few years ago. The resurgence of a housing market from the depths of a meltdown during the recession. The continued, prominent role of a state agency in one of the biggest automotive scandals in a generation. These were among the top business stories in the Sacramento area in 2016. Sacramento Bee article


Mike Dunbar: Taking the water could cost the state – Lots of angry words were billowing about during the momentous state water board hearings in Stockton, Merced and Modesto. There were vows to fight, to resist and not to accept the second-class-citizen status the state’s proposed rules would impose. One threatened to “unleash the dogs of war.” Through most of it, board members sat stoically, letting it roll off their backs. They expected anger. But there was one word that probably made board members nervous. “Taking.” Dunbar column in Modesto Bee

Storm brings record rainfall to LA, while snow temporarily closes the Grapevine – A powerful storm brought record rainfall to parts of Southern California and closed Interstate 5 in the Grapevine for hours because of snow. LA Times article

Criminal Justice/Prisons

Tim Ward: Meet the newest member of the Tulare County DA’s staff – Tulare County’s district attorney writes, “We have one staff member who joined us just last week from New Mexico. This member likes the outdoors, too. He is dedicated to children and helping them through the difficult court process. He has only been here a few days and I can safely say he is the most popular member of the Office of the District Attorney. He is not a prosecutor and he is not an investigator. His name is Fortune and he is a Golden Retriever/Labrador Retriever mix, which is now referred to by the AKC as a “Great American Breed” and indeed he is a great American. His primary responsibility is to offer comfort to children when they are interviewed by our personnel and he may even attend court proceedings with the child.” Visalia Times-Delta article

Boy, 8, celebrates birthday with 11 Fresno police officers on Christmas Eve — An 8-year-old boy celebrated his birthday with a dozen Fresno police officers on Christmas Eve at his home – and siblings and relatives were treated to gifts, too. Fresno Bee article

Operation Blue Santa brings holiday joy to families in need — Thanks to the Turlock Police Department’s Operation Blue Santa program, those kids, their families and dozens of other families got everything they asked for and more this year. Officers with the department dress up as Santa Claus to deliver presents to the families, but instead of a red velvet suit, this Santa dons blue to represent law enforcement and even wears the Turlock Police Department patch on his shoulders. Modesto Bee article


COS program offers path for aspiring lawyers — A program at College of the Sequoias in Visalia is giving local aspiring lawyers some extra help to get them into law school. The California Community Colleges and the State Bar of California launched the Pathway to Law School program in 2014, teaming up with 24 community colleges to help students prepare for law school. Hanford Sentinel article

Health/Human Services

UC Davis professor wants FDA to create firm guidelines for stem-cell treatments, put clinics on notice — Adding year-end urgency to the national debate over stem cells, a prominent UC Davis researcher is asking federal officials to send warning letters to hundreds of stem cell clinics nationwide that he contends are selling patients risky, unproven therapies. Sacramento Bee article

Pitman senior receives best Christmas present  – a heartbeat — Jake Zylstra never will enjoy a more meaningful Christmas. He’s already received the best possible gift – a still-beating heart. Surgeons placed a pulse-assisting defibrillator in the chest of Zylstra, a Pitman High senior, on Thursday. Returning to class for the spring semester is possible, and so is graduation with his class next spring.  Modesto Bee article

Land Use/Housing

Sacramento County is poised to expand urban farming.  Here’s a look at what could come – Chanowk Yisrael already has the pop-up tent for the farm stand he’ll operate on Roosevelt Avenue as soon as Sacramento County gives him the go-ahead. Just blocks away in the city of Sacramento, his neighbors are already allowed to sell produce on their properties under a 2015 ordinance. A similar urban agriculture ordinance is working its way through Sacramento County’s bureaucratic process and will be considered by county supervisors early next year. Sacramento Bee article

Hotel California residents remain without heat, but Fresno leaders call motel housing ‘necessary evil’ — As Fresnans celebrate Christmas, residents at the rundown Hotel California are wondering when their living conditions will improve as city leaders grapple with how to address all motels that operate as apartments. Fresno Bee article

Other areas

Michael Fitzgerald: Christmas, as only Stockton can do it — Christmas in Stockton is glowing lights, good Samaritans, turkey and cranberry, tamales and flan, heavy traffic at the malls and churches ringing to the rafters. Also zealots who go completely overboard. Take Rogelio Gallegos. He has buried his Myrtle Street house with giant illuminated inflatable figures. Gallegos has bedecked his trees and fences with a Disneyland of synchronized lights and robotic reindeer and – well, there’s no end to it. Fitzgerald column in Stockton Record

In memoriam: They made a difference — The Californian remembers the people we lost this year who helped shape the city’s identity and inspire us. Reflections on country music great Merle Haggard and activist Helen Chavez begin our special commemoration. Bakersfield Californian article

 Valley Editorial Roundup

Fresno Bee – This has been a dark and divisive holiday season. But we are more than the sum of our sparks.

Sacramento Bee –- This has been a dark and divisive holiday season. But we are more than the sum of our sparks.